Fish Get Pulled from Court; Moneyed Richmonders Build a New Neighborhood; More Wireless Coming Here; At Martin, Pingpong Breaks Glass Ceiling 

Street Talk

Fish Get Pulled from CourtMoneyed Richmonders Build a New NeighborhoodMore Wireless Coming HerePingpong Breaks Glass Ceiling

Fish Get Pulled from Court

Public art has its place. It's just not in front of the federal courts building downtown.

Two decorated fish statues — part of the Go Fish! public-art project — vanished recently from the sidewalk in front of the courts building on East Main Street.

Insiders say some of the judges at the notoriously immutable court found the 5-foot fish sculptures inappropriate.

The fish-art project coordinator, Katie Adams Parrish, says she is not sure whether judges balked at the fish's design or if the fish were considered some sort of security risk. But, she adds, the organizers were "happy to comply" with the court's request to move them.

A spokesperson for the federal court says the fish were moved "basically for security reasons," and adds: "The fish have been a big hit among the court family."

Exhibit planners had spent months working with city officials to make sure each installation complied with city ordinances. "We did quite a bit to get all that cleared," Parrish says. "We just didn't consider that it was a city sidewalk in front of a federal building."

The two fish, which Parrish declines to identify in particular, have found new homes. One is on Brown's Island and the other is near Capitol Square.

Moving the fish, which with their bases can weigh hundreds of pounds, is not desirable, Parrish says. "It's frustrating for us and the public," she says, especially since maps detailing each fish's whereabouts already have been printed.

The two fish had gone up in May along with 29 others downtown in the first wave of installation. Since then, nearly 200 of the epoxy creatures have been planted everywhere from Shockoe Bottom to Regency Square. The last fish are expected to make their debut this week. Nearly 80 schools, businesses, individuals and nonprofits paid between $500 and $2,500 to sponsor each fish.

Organizers and city boosters hope the event will bolster tourism and trade and grow interest in public art. —
Brandon Walters.

Moneyed Richmonders Build a New Neighborhood

Some of the city's last undeveloped land, a secluded 18 acres along the James River, is turning into a tiny neighborhood of well-heeled Richmonders.

The area's first resident, Stuart C. Siegel, chairman and CEO of S&K Famous Brands Inc., moves into his new home this week.

The neighborhood, dubbed River- Locke, is a lush, wooded enclave at the end of Old Locke Lane, nestled between Lockgreen and Windsor Farms, near the Five Mile Locke and the Kanawha Canal, and across the river from Locke Island.

"To be along the river and in the city is very attractive to me," says Siegel. "And there's virtually no land left, so this was a very unique piece."

The 18 acres had been donated to the Science Museum of Virginia Foundation in 1996 as part of a larger gift from Inger Rice and her late husband, former Ambassador to Australia Walter Rice.

The Rices charged the Science Museum's foundation with selling the land and using the proceeds to endow another part of the Rices' gift, their home on Locke Island, where Inger currently lives.

When Siegel learned the property was available he called his friend Ferd Baruch, a now-retired regional managing director of Marsh, a risk-management consulting and insurance brokerage and employee-benefits company.

The two lived in Goochland County but had been looking to move closer to the city, Siegel says. When they walked the riverfront property, they loved it. So they purchased it for $1.74 million, divvied it into seven lots, and hired Innsbrook developer Sidney J. Gunst Jr. to develop RiverLocke.

"It's pretty utopic," Baruch says. "You really feel like you're in the country but you're really right in the middle of the city."

Siegel and Baruch chose two lots and sold the other five quickly through word of mouth. No agents.

Some of the buyers have no immediate plans to build, but W. Scott and Melissa W. Brannan have almost finished building their home on a one-acre lot.

Other owners, according to city property records, include Dr. Andrea L. Pozez, a plastic surgeon with MCV Physicians; John J. Muldowney, executive vice president of Scott & Stringfellow, and his wife, Nancy; and former Best Products CEO Andrew M. Lewis, now an assistant professor of mathematical sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University, and his wife, Virginia, an arts and civic leader.

Property owners agree to certain covenants to preserve the peaceful, wooded area. Construction, for example, must be approved by an architectural review board. "We just want to make sure that it fits in with what we're trying to create," Baruch says. —
Jason Roop

More Wireless Coming Here

Brace yourself for more wireless-phone ads. Two more wireless companies are headed here.

An engineer from VoiceStream Wireless Corp. is scouting around Richmond to build a network for the area's seventh wireless-phone network. Another, Cingular Wireless, is waiting in the wings.

A spokeswoman for VoiceStream, based in Bellevue, Wash., confirms that the company plans to launch service in the Richmond market by fall 2002. A representative for Cingular says the company recently secured a license to operate here and hopes to launch next year as well.

The new companies will add to a clamor of wireless competitors in the area. Already six operate here: Alltel, Nextel Communications, nTelos, Sprint PCS, SunCom and Verizon Wireless.

VoiceStream and Cingular are "late to the party," says F. Drake Johnstone, a telecommunications analyst for Richmond-based Davenport & Co. Still, he adds, the new guys will find business.

VoiceStream, which offers service in the Washington, D.C.-area, sells phones that work in Europe. Earlier this month, the company was acquired by German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom AG for $29.6 billion.

Cingular also has deep pockets and a strong presence in the Southeast. That will give them a leg up in establishing a compelling regional calling plan, Johnstone predicts. "I think Cingular would have a better shot in terms of their success here than VoiceStream." —

At Martin, Pingpong Breaks Glass Ceiling

History was made last week at the Martin Agency: A female employee stepped up to, of all things, a pingpong table. It was, sources say, quite an emotional day.

All the fuss was because, surprisingly, no woman had ever done that before.

The women had not been excluded from the sport exactly. The men simply had hogged the table for years, some paddling three or four games a day.

To top it off, the guys allegedly never even asked the women to play.

And at such a progressive-minded place!

"They'd be yelling, 'We need a fourth; we need a fourth!'" says a female executive, "and we'd cry out 'Pick me; pick me!'"

It seems the time was right for the boys'-club shuffle. Ever since that first woman infiltrated the game, others have followed. The spirit of liberation, it seems, has spawned a revolution of paddle-ready women.

It could lead some women to take pingpong lessons on the sly, says the female executive. "The sisters," she says, "are breaking ground!" —


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