Business on Boulevard: ‘Changing the name is a step toward reconciliation’

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — After months of discussion, Richmond’s Boulevard will be be ‘Arthur Ashe Boulevard.’

City council approved the change Monday night to honor the Richmond native and tennis star, but that doesn’t mean signs will be switched out anytime soon.

City council plans on talking with other business owners on how the address change could affect them.

One business owner told 8News they are working to crunch the numbers on how the change will impact their bottom line. 

Vogue Flowers has operated out of their shop on North Boulevard for more than 20 years, just a few blocks away from the Arthur Ashe Junior Athletic Center.

Whether it’s the athletic center, tennis courts at Battery Park or the statue on Monument Avenue, there are no shortage of tributes dedicated to the local icon.

And with the go-ahead from city council, Boulevard will now honor his name.

“There is no one that can take away his contribution to the world and certainly to the Richmond community,” Ellen Papoulakos, co-owner of Vogue Flowers, said. “I think that changing the name is a step toward reconciliation for the larger racial issues that we have here in Richmond.”

Papoulakos acknowledged, though, that changing the name of the street her business has operated on for nearly two decades will present challenges. 

“Anything we have in print, we have brochures, stationery, business cards … That’s all going to have to change,” she explained. “At the same time, I don’t feel it’s a terrible burden. There’s only really one Boulevard. People are going to know where we are.” 

Meanwhile, city council is planning a celebration in June to roll out the new name.

“We have to continue to tell our stories,” city councilwoman Kim Gray said. “We have to continue to preserve our history, because if we forget our history, we repeat it.” 

Gray added that the local post office allows businesses two years to change their address. The cost to change street signage, meanwhile, is roughly $30,000. Gray said that money will come out of the city’s transportation budget. 

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