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Downtown Norfolk Council

DONOR SPOTLIGHT: Downtown Norfolk Council

Your name: Rachel McCall
Your position:Vice President
Company name: Downtown Norfolk Council
Phone Number:(757) 623-1757
Business address: 208 E. Main Street, 2nd Floor, Norfolk, VA 23510
Industry: Non-profit

Describe what the company you work for does and what your position entails:

Founded in 1979, the Downtown Norfolk Council is an award-winning urban place management organization (UPMO) comprised of more than 350 businesses and individual members dedicated to promoting and enhancing business, cultural, retail and residential initiatives in Downtown Norfolk. The DNC also manages the Downtown Improvement District, a 50-block district ordained by Norfolk City Council in February 1999.

As Vice President for the organization, I lead DNC’s operational and strategic initiatives. Over the years, this has included advancing new businesses and public art for the NEON District, supporting Downtown’s Vibrant Spaces business catalyst program, and advocating for a pedestrian and bike-friendly urban environment.

What is your personal connection to the Elizabeth River Trail?

I am a founding board member of the Elizabeth River Trail Foundation. Since 2017, I have volunteered my time and resources to the Board of Directors and served as the chair of the Events Committee. I’m so proud my role plays a part in keeping the ERT active, fun, and inclusive all year long. We host almost 150 events annually, with hundreds of volunteers, riders, walkers, and fans of the trail participating. And personally, I live close to the trail and take every chance I can get to walk outside on my favorite sections in West Ghent and Chelsea.

Why did you/your company decide to provide sponsorship to the trail?

DNC’s CEO, Mary Miller, and I supported our Board of Directors committing sponsorship to the trail because of the organization’s long history of advocating for biking and walking in Downtown. The Elizabeth River’s waterfront is deeply tied to Downtown – as not only an amenity for visitors, residents, and the Downtown workforce but also a reflection of our city’s history. Connectivity to the trail becomes so important as the major way to access the water from Freemason, Town Point Park, Harbor Park, and Granby Street.

Given your business expertise and the nature of what you do, what benefits do you feel the trail has for the business community?

I see our business community out on the trail regularly walking on lunch breaks, enjoying festivals and events after hours on the green spaces, and commuting to work by bike or foot. But beyond enjoyment of the trail, the economic value is really what is changing Norfolk. Trail-oriented development is driving recruitment of new business, keeping employees here, and raising the value of properties alongside the trail – not just in Downtown, but all along the ERT.

What’s your favorite trail moment?

After almost six years of volunteering for the trail, it’s hard to pick, but I’m really fond of those early days when a tiny group of us were organizing brewery tours by bike with no idea of how many people were going to show up or how it was going to go. It was an adventure every time!

Favorite Trailgrazing spot? (i.e. best local food spot steps from the trail)

Although I have many, one that is steps from Downtown and still on the ERT is Four Eleven York. The rear patio is lovely in warm weather, and I love being able to walk or bike from home to a beautiful dining experience.

Best view of the Elizabeth River from the trail?

One of my favorite views of the trail is actually from the board room where the foundation meets Downtown. It’s, technically, across the street from the ERT, but watching the ships sail by, the sun reflecting off the water, and tiny walkers and cyclists from 21 floors up is pretty magical (and a little distracting!).

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