The Seven Hills of Richmond– Church Hill

Article from The Richmond Times Dispatch 1946

The Seven Hills of Richmond seem to have always been a controversial topic in RVA. Today, many people consider the Seven Hills to be a myth.

The truth is, the official Seven Hills were declared in a 1937 ordinance by the City of Richmond but the ordinance was never passed.

Since then, the confusion has only grown larger. In 1947 The Richmond Times Dispatch published an article that attempted to clear the air about the Seven Hills. The article said that there were various lists of Richmond’s original hills and the hills that were found in 1937 were not accepted by the City Council.

Although the Seven Hills were never made official, those neighborhoods have shaped the city’s history and are a part of what make RVA unique.

Church Hill is Richmond’s first neighborhood and home to most of RVA’s original 32 blocks. The Church Hill area is filled with Richmond’s oldest history from the red brick sidewalks and gas street lamps to the classical architectural styles.

St.John's Church 1865

St.John’s Church 1865– Library of Congress

The center of the historic district is  St. John’s Church, built in 1741, it’s where Church Hill gets its name.

St. John's Church 2012 St. John’s is the only Colonial structure in the area that remains intact.

During the 18th century Church Hill was the stomping ground for America’s early revolutionaries, like Patrick Henry. Who’s most well known for his “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech at St. John’s Church in 1775.

Richmond Va, Church Hill c. 1850s

A photo of Richmond from Church Hill in the 1850s –Valentine Museum

Classical Church Hill homeHome in Church Hill across from St. John's Church Hill homes near Libby Hill Park

 

*1742– Church Hill population reaches 250.

The history of Church Hill radiates from the streets since most of the area’s real estate was built before the Civil War.

The classic architecture is what makes Church Hill one of Richmond’s most unique neighborhoods.

 

Architectural styles on display throughout the neighborhood include: Greek Revival, Italianate, Federal, and Queen Anne. By the 19th century Church Hill was booming and the population in Richmond had reached 5,730.

 

People began moving to the area for job opportunities in local tobacco factories like the Pohlig Box Factory located on 25th street just blocks away from St. John’s Church. Tobacco factories and industrial buildings provided Church Hillians with jobs and boosted the local population…

[Read more…]

Venture Richmond Forum Unveils New Developments in RVA

After years and years of work throughout the city, Downtown Richmond is finally getting the attention it deserves, thanks to a nearly $1 billion dollar makeover from the state.

This makeover was the highlight of discussion at Venture Richmond’s Annual Downtown Development Forum last Thursday, May 31st, as Richmond’s business leaders, developers and architects met to reveal their latest ideas for up and coming projects.

Proposed projects included the VCU School of Medicine building, the Virginia Biotechnology Park, a 150,000-square-foot addition for Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc, as well as several apartment buildings in the Manchester and business districts.

Over $120 million is going into creating more residential spaces across the downtown area, according to agbeat.com, who says the recent heightened demand for apartments is a result of the drop in the Multifamily Vacancy Index (MVI).

Fyi, the MVI measures the multifamily housing industry’s perception of vacancies which has recently dropped to a level of 31, an all time low.

“Multifamily construction continues to be a bright spot in the overall housing market,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe, in a report by agbeat.com.

Residential development across Richmond was a large part of the revitalization plans discussed at last Thursday’s forum.  For more information about how the State is funding these different projects, click here.

Another project in the works is by the Franklin Development Group, who is working to revitalize the Manchester District by building a 17-acre development at the Reynolds South Property.

“We’re a long way from closing,” said Franklin Development’s Manager, Thomas Wilkinson, who discussed the possibility of  over 300 apartments, office space and an upscale grocer at Thurday’s forum.

Although the project plans aren’t official yet, Wilkinson assures Richmond-ers  that the development will revitalize the Manchester district and appeal to the area’s increasipopulations on.  Checkouts Richmond BizSense’s coverage of the Reynolds Development for more info.

Millions of dollars from the City are being put into new construction on the VCU campuses, as well as some of Richmond’s most beloved landmarks, including the Main Street Station Clock Tower and 17th Street.

The idea behind Richmond’s makeover? To transform traditonal buildings and warehouses into modern, revitalized structures for public use.

Be sure to keep your eyes open, as these new developments pop up across the city!

Brown Greer Goes Waterfront on Rocketts Landing

Five years ago, Rocketts Landing – the rural neighborhood of Richmond bordering Downtown and Churchill along the James River – was desolate, barren and considered as just a watering hole by local fisherman. It was pretty much unheard of by the general public.

Two years ago, that all changed with The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing opening in 2010 and The Conch Republic soon after in 2011. The area was completely transformed into an attractive, scenic stretch of restaurants along the James and tourists, visitors, locals, couples, families and Richmond-ers flocked like seagulls.

Today, Rockett’s Landing is making an even bigger splash. One of the Richmond area’s biggest law firms, Brown Greer, is relocating its headquarters to the 38,000-square-foot Cedar Works Building along the riverfront on Dock Street.

Although the building still needs to be renovated, there are major factors in favor of moving to Rocketts, according to Principal Orran Brown: convenient parking, the location, and the long-term prospects of what Rocketts Landing could develop into.

Rocketts Landing Memorial Day 2012 event

Check out these recent articles in the Times-Dispatch and Richmond BizSense, which give a more detailed look into Brown Greer’s latest urban development.

In the mean time, be sure to visit Rocket’s Landing on Sunday, May 27th for Rocketts Red Glare.  The event will feature the Kings of Swingband and a fireworks display to benefit the Neighborhood Resource Center of Greater Fulton.

“New” development north of Broad on Staples Mill

About once a month I get a question about the large, vacant property that borders Staples Mill Road that is just north of West Broad Street, right over the Henrico Count line. My answer is always that it was an old, rundown neighborhood that was purchased and cleared with the intention of rebuilding, and that the developer is the same group that is doing the project at Monument Avenue and Willow Lawn Drive — Gumenick Properties. As to why it hasn’t been started, well just look around at new building all around the country. The developer was obviously waiting until the economy turns around.

But, I always have to give that answer with the caveat that the last official word I had heard about it was a few years ago. I couldn’t even be sure that the same plans were in place. Thankfully I can point to this article on Richmond.com that gives us the lowdown on the current situation — which is pretty much as described as above. It sounds as though things are just on hold, but the same big plans are still on the books. In fact, this project is expected to take 10 years even once they finally get underway.

You need to go read the article to see all of the reported details, but I thought I would share a couple of details of the plans here:

What: Staples Mill Centre, proposed to include 1,096 apartments, 571 condominiums, 391 townhouses, 32 single-family homes, 60,000 square feet of offices, and 100,000 square feet of stores.

Where: About 80 acres between Staples Mill Road, Libbie Avenue and Bethlehem Road, near Interstate 64.

[cetsEmbedGmap src=http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Staples+Mill+Rd+%26+Suburban+Ave,+Richmond,+VA&hl=en&ll=37.591213,-77.49316&spn=0.011885,0.026157&sll=37.588289,-77.492216&sspn=0.011953,0.026157&vpsrc=0&hnear=Staples+Mill+Rd+%26+Suburban+Ave,+Brookland,+Henrico,+Virginia+23230&t=m&z=16 width=350 height=425 marginwidth=0 marginheight=0 frameborder=0 scrolling=yes]

How much of an impact do VCU & UR have on Richmond?

Richmond isn’t a college town by any stretch of the imagination. During the breaks when all of the students go home, the campus gets quiet (mostly) — but the city is still buzzing with activity. In fact, a lot of the students live here full-time, even when class is out.

If you haven’t heard yet, VCU & UR’s basketball teams have both made it into the Sweet 16 and Richmond is getting a lot of national attention for this feat. (check out this article in the NY Times and this article on ESPN.com)

All of this attention and excitement is wonderful, and has been a long time coming with the athletic programs at both schools gaining more and more traction. BUT the schools’ contributions to our fair city are quite a bit more involved than just succeeding at athletic competitions. Both schools have made quite a large economic and cultural impact over the years, and they continue to do so.

Mark Holmberg from CBS6 did a very interesting piece on how much Virginia Commonwealth University has done to improve the city and gives us a snapshot of VCU’s footprint here in Richmond:

VCU and its hospital and health system now have nearly 19 thousand employees.  It has become the largest employer in the metro Richmond with an annual payroll of $1.2 billion, and look at all the construction jobs and other support businesses for the 32,ooo students and all those employees- which equal a fourth of Richmond’s population.

VCU now owns 142 acres of Richmond, and has 203 buildings.

As for University of Richmond, it doesn’t have the massive scale that VCU does, but it has a great deal of influence and presence in the city as well. From the facts and figures portion of UR’s website:

  • 350-acre suburban campus located six miles from downtown Richmond
  • 379 full-time faculty [couldn’t locate a total for the entire staff]
  • 4,405 total university enrollment

And let’s not forget some of the other fine schools here in town that are also educating and providing economic development (and jobs!) — Virginia Union University, Randolph Macon College, and two Virginia Community Colleges (J. Sargeant Reynolds &  John Tyler) serving this area.

How to make zoning easier to understand

Government regulations are typically so complicated that not only can the lay-person not understand what they mean, but they are written in such a way that even people that think they know what is meant are left arguing completely different interpretations.  Zoning regulations are no exception.

In fact, in NYC the zoning regulations are so convoluted that “In a recent case, a judge said the word “development,” which appears at least 2,500 times in the [zoning] resolution, did not mean what the city said.” (source: New York Times article — we’ll see more about that article in just a minute)

The Planning Commissioner for NYC, Amanda Burden, is attempting to make the zoning regulations a little more accessible to the general public by issuing a new city handbook with plain explanations and cartoon drawings that illustrate what particular zoning designations look like and what they mean.  Check out the coverage in the New York Times about what she has been doing to bridge that gap.

While this may not be the right approach for every locality, the idea is one that every local government should take to heart:  Start building tools that puts control of the government back into the hands of the people.  Sure, we elect officials to represent us and we should not be ruled by mob mentality (see: California), but the people also need to be able to understand what is being done — especially when we are expected to interpret these rules and abide by them.

I have seen far too many business and property owners try to follow the rules that have been laid out, only to find a health inspector or building inspector come in with a totally different understanding and cost the owner thousands of dollars in hard cost and lost business because the rules were not clear enough.

What do you think, Richmond? Have you had any issues with the local zoning regulations (city or county)? What would you suggest could be done to make the rules more clear?

Redevelopment plans for Carytown get nod from Museum District

The redevelopment of the old Verizon building at 10 N. Nansemond Street has been hotly debated and contested. (see: the official site for the Carytown Place; Don’t Big Box Carytown‘s website; & this post and the accompanying comment thread on Caramelized Opinions for a good summary & feel of the debate)

The Museum District Association had originally ruled to oppose the redevelopment based on the original plans, but Friday they sent out a press release announcing the reversal of that position.  The gist of the situation can be summed up from this one paragraph in the press release:

The Board voted 13-1 in November to oppose the original SUP and subsequently provided the applicant with detailed requests for further changes to make it more amenable to the neighborhood. The applicant responded by altering the SUP to remove vehicular ingress/egress on Nansemond Street as well as reduce the number of available uses of the property to 10 uses. The applicant also agreed to limit the usable floor space of any one tenant to no more than 25,000 square feet, ensuring there would be multiple tenants in the building and ruling out a single, larger “big box” tenant.

The whole press release can be read here on the MDA’s website (right now it’s at the top, but it will shift down the page as new releases are issued).

What do you think? Are you satisfied with the MDA’s ruling, or are the changes in the plan not enough for you? In that case, what changes would be enough to get your support for the development?

Exciting times for a local revitalization organization

The Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods (A.C.O.R.N.) has worked diligently for more than a decade to “promote the purchase and renovation of vacant and abandoned buildings in Richmond’s oldest neighborhoods.” This past Friday, ACORN announced some big news that will help them in that mission, and that’s exciting for all of Richmond. I’ll let their press release speak for itself:

The Alliance
to Conserve
Old Richmond Neighborhoods

Press Release
January 21, 2011

The Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhood Joins Better Housing Coalition

The Alliance is pleased and excited to announce a new step in its evolution and a greater opportunity to improve lives in Richmond. As of January 31, 2011 The Alliance will be moving to become part of the Better Housing Coalition (BHC) family as its Center for Neighborhood Revitalization. The Center will expand BHC services for the Richmond community and continue to provide educational programs and urban revitalization tools for communities and residents.

The Alliance brings to BHC both experience and programs that benefit prospective homeowners in their desire to renovate and preserve older and historic properties; and this opportunity allows The Alliance to increase its capacity of programs and services, thereby continuing its mission of conserving and rebuilding Richmond’s neighborhoods.

The Alliance executive director, David Herring, will become the vice president of BHC’s Center for Neighborhood Revitalization.

The Alliance property director, Lane Pearson, will support BHC’s Center programs as revitalization strategy manager.

“Moving Richmond’s affordable housing climate forward often requires preserving its past,” said T.K. Somanath, president of BHC. “With the skills and knowledge The Alliance staff brings to the table, we can bolster our work to revitalize Richmond’s urban core featuring well designed, walkable developments that mix residential and commercial uses, integrating the places we live, work and shop.”

John McCann, chairman of BHC’s Board of Directors, said, “We also look forward to tapping the talents of Board members from The Alliance, who have provided unwavering support for The Alliance’s mission and outreach.”

The two organizations are delighted to be integrating programs of The Alliance into Better Housing Coalition in order to continue to strengthen Richmond communities now and for the future.

ALLIANCE TO CONSERVE OLD RICHMOND NEIGHBORHOODS
104 SHOCKOE SLIP, LOWER LEVEL ~  RICHMOND, VA 23219 

DAVID HERRING

DIRECTOR

LANE PEARSON
PROPERTY DIRECTOR

Richmond’s next frontier?

Style Weekly has an interesting article this week about a part of Richmond that has been largely ignored, Northside’s Brookland Park Boulevard.  There is a lot of great information in the article, so be sure to go here and read the whole thing, but I felt like this part in particular was a great summary of the past and present of this area:

Brookland Park Boulevard was a bustling commercial corridor in the 1950s and ’60s, with popular bakeries, restaurants, a theater and a nightclub. And today, despite the many vacant buildings, several businesses still do a thriving trade.

On Saturdays, the area’s many beauty and barber shops are packed. Soul food restaurant Sam’s Kitchen is doing well, Epps says, as is his brother’s newly opened restaurant, River City Seafood. The cheerful yellow Michaela’s Bakery, which opened in 2005, sells six-layer cakes and strawberry shortcakes wholesale. Owner Michael Hatcher wishes the city would think of some way to bring more customers in — something historic, he says, or a tourist attraction. Another longtime business owner, florist Sylvia Richardson, says loiterers are the biggest deterrent to business. She says she doesn’t feel comfortable even walking to the convenience store across the street.

The one thing on which the merchants agree is that Brookland Park Boulevard has potential. Car traffic is plentiful, because the boulevard connects the city’s North Side and East End, and the area is served by two bus lines. The street has some architectural gems, such as an old theater and an ornate bank building. Richmond Community High School, a school for the gifted, moved onto the boulevard in 2009. Young people are buying up houses in nearby neighborhoods.

Brookland Park Boulevard reminds me a lot of other Richmond gems like East Grace Street near the Carpenter Center and Manchester’s Hull Street.  A rich history, a questionable present, and a lot of enthusiasm and support to make the area a thriving community.

For another great write-up on the area, take a look at this very thorough post on This Decrepit Victorian from March 2010:  The Brookland Park Historic District.

What’s next for Brookland Park, I wonder?

Does downtown Richmond have a parking problem?

Given the info in this post at The Urbanophile, I sure hope we do!
desolation
The author is specifically talking about Buffalo, New York, but this is an issue that most cities of any substantial size have to wrestle with all of the time.  I can’t count all of the times I’ve heard people complain about parking in downtown Richmond — and I know that I have at certain times/events.

Here’s an excerpt that I felt summed up the key point of the post to me:

Downtown can never compete with suburban office parks on the basis of convenient and affordable parking. To compete successfully on that basis would mean the destruction of all of downtown’s remaining (and emerging) value.

By definition, downtown can never out-compete the suburbs on suburban, automobile-based terms. By necessity, parking takes up a tremendous amount of land, creating lots of dead, open space, which the suburbs have plenty of. In fact, that’s the suburbs’ main asset: lots of open space. A city’s main amenity is not open land, but density, walkability, a diverse mix of uses, and the quality of the streets and other public spaces. These are the areas in which the suburbs cannot out-compete downtown.

That doesn’t mean that we should ignore parking entirely.  Complaints about parking are a symptom, not the actual problem.

Parking will always be an issue if everyone is coming from out of town to visit the downtown.  More importantly, we should focus on bringing more businesses and residents downtown — increasing the walkability and decreasing reliance on cars will make parking less of a problem.

But more to the point of the post, downtown isn’t supposed to be a wonderland of surface parking lots.  It’s supposed to be a dense area with lots of people and businesses, and events that bring more people from all over.  If the downtown is a vibrant place, then people will deal with the parking issues (they will still complain, but they will still come).  If you want lots of open parking, go to the suburbs — that’s what they’re good at.

There a good discussion in their comment section, so be sure to check that out while you’re reading through the original post.

Photo credit greeneyedhedgehog

More info about The Devil’s Triangle!

This is an article that you don’t want to miss about The Devil’s Triangle by Alix Bryan

I said my bit in a post yesterday, after seeing Alix’s videos — but there is SO much more that can be said, and she has a quite a few of the stories I have heard over the years about the rough days here in the Triangle. Be sure to read all about it!

Insight into The Devil’s Triangle

There is a little-discussed part of Richmond’s Upper Fan/Museum District that was once a pretty rough area — “The Devil’s Triangle”, or as it is sometimes called, “The Bermuda Triangle”.  Now it is an economic corridor with independent shops and restaurants that serve the residents of the Museum District, the Fan District, and anyone else that wants to wander through.

I lived in the area for several years back in the mid to late nineties, and I missed most of the rougher times but heard plenty about Felix’s, Cafe 21, and the Ritz — now Caliente, Cafe Diem, and Arianna’s.

We moved our offices over to 604 North Sheppard Street several years ago to be in the heart of the revitalization going on, and to show our commitment to the area.  Our founder and CEO, Bedros Bandazian owns all of the commercial along this part of Sheppard Street except for the 7-Eleven, as well as some nearby commercial buildings — so there was already a strong commitment within the company to revitalizing the area.  Our move made a further commitment, and  of course we all patronize the surrounding businesses faithfully.

The transformation has taken another step with the most recent additions of:

  • Sylvia’s Stitch & Suds (renovated coin laundrymat, now a seamstress and laundry),
  • Arianna’s Grill (Italian restaurant from the extended family who also own Mary Angela’s and several others around town — built out from almost from scratch shell)
  • The parking lot in the rear of the buildings at Park & Sheppard (repaved, landscaped, lighted, and available for any customers of the shops along Sheppard)

The Devil Doesn’t Live Here Anymore from Alix Bryan on Vimeo.
[vimeo vimeo.com/10851674]

The Devil’s Triangle is located in the Museum District, which is nestled within the Upper Fan, of Richmond, VA.

This area received its name from three rough local bars, which formed a triangle. The bars have changed ownership, and the area has undergone a major transformation.

However, the nickname has stuck, and has a quirky appeal to locals–locals who never went when it was actually the Devil’s Triangle.

It wasn’t unlikely for police to find wanted suspects in the bars, or for gun and fistfights to happen almost nightly.

Origin of a nickname from Alix Bryan on Vimeo.[vimeo vimeo.com/14935680]

Rich Holden, former owner of Felix, talks about how a two block area came to be known as The Devil’s Triangle. Located in Richmond, VA, this area was home to drug trafficking, prostitution, bar brawls and gunfights. The triangle consisted of three bars, The Felix, The Ritz, and Cafe 21.

Although Holden called it “The Bermuda Triangle,” that moniker is also commonly synonymous with “The Devil’s Triangle.”

[editor’s note: Richard Holden is now the Principal Broker and President here at Bandazian & Holden, Inc.]

I’m eagerly awaiting Alix’s article to go along with the videos, and if she’ll allow me I’ll share it with you in a later post — or at least I’ll link over to it! I greatly appreciate her allowing me to use the videos here, and encourage you to go to her Vimeo site to take a look at her other work!

If you haven’t visited the Devil’s Triangle in a while, you should!  Visit the Black Hand for some coffee that was roasted right there on site. Come sit on Caliente’s patio and enjoy the spring breeze while you have dinner. Come listen to some amazing music down at Cafe Diem. Or explore one of the other shops or restaurants.

[edit (4/13/10, 2:27pm): After a couple of off-blog responses, I’m curious to ask — If you are familiar with the Devil’s Triangle, please share some memories of your time there with us in the comment section below!]

New use for the Ukrop’s building at VCU

The Ukrop’s location on West Grace Street closed almost a year ago, and since then has sat vacant in the midst of the bustling VCU community.

Plans are finally underway for making use of the space since the acquisition by VCU just a few months ago.  Not a grand retail redevelopment, but it’s certainly a logical progression for VCU to acquire and use the space for additional classrooms and storage.

See the full story at Richmond BizSense here (which, by the way, does an EXCELLENT job with the business news for Richmond and the surrounding areas — if you aren’t subscribed then you are missing out!).

New life for closed Ukrop’s VCU location

Per breaking news on the RTD website today, the former Ukrop's location on Grace Street adjacent to the Virginia Commonwealth University campus will now be part of that same campus.  VCU's real estate foundation purchased the property for future development.

"The foundation bought the property last month
for $9 million from BET Investments Inc., a Pennsylvania-based
development company."


Watch for more information in upcoming press.  I'm sure there will be articles soon.

For more on the closing of the Ukrop's at VCU, see here, here, and here.

(Thanks to burt from UP Richmond for the heads up on the article!)

The final countdown for Sixth Street Marketplace

As reported by Style Weekly in "Street Talk" this week, the final deadline has been set for closing the remaining vendors at Sixth Street Marketplace.  The original deadline was August 9, 2007, but that has been extended three times due to lengthy relocation agreement negotiations and the search for two city agencies currently housed in the Blues Armory.

The deadline,  as it stands now, is May 12.  Deals have been struck with approval from all sides regarding the relocation packages (forgiving 50% of back rent owed and $25k for relocation expenses).  There are seven remaining food vendors that were part of the negotiations.

It's good to see that things are moving forward, and the city can finally put the space to good use.  Now if only I could remember what the new use was supposed to be……  Does anyone else remember?

Henrico is giving away money!

Henrico County is giving away money for new businesses, and for redevelopment projects!

…and so is Richmond City, and Chesterfield County, and Hanover County

Per Henrico County's website regarding the Enterprise Zone program in Virginia:

What is an Enterprise
Zone?

The governing body of any county, city
or town may make written application to the Virginia Department
of Housing and Community Development to have an area or areas
declared to be an Enterprise Zone. The purpose of the Virginia
Enterprise Zone Program is to stimulate business and industrial
growth in such areas, which would result in neighborhood,
commercial and economic revitalization. Upon the recommendation
of the Director of the Virginia Department of Housing and
Community Development the Governor may designate the proposed
areas as Enterprise Zones. Upon designation of an area as
an Enterprise Zone state and local incentives become available
to qualified business firms that participate in the Program.

The trick is learning the details of the different programs that are
available.  Given that we are talking about free money (grants) and
cheap money (loans), and that these are government programs, there is
quite a bit of red tape and a complex set of regulations regarding how
to qualify for the programs.

I'm no expert on the intricate regulations involved, which is why I am attending the Henrico County Enterprise Zone Spring Workshop at Belmont Recreation Center on May 7th.  It is FREE to attend, but you have to register beforehand (and space may be limited).

If you're interested in the program, you may have to pull some strings since the registration deadline was April 3rd (SORRY — it's been very busy here, despite all the dark clouds cast by the media).  You could still call 804-501-7615 or email to arz@co.henrico.va.us and see if they have any open spots.

Otherwise, if I can find a good way to summarize what will be an enormous amount of useful information, I will post a follow up on here after the workshop!

Latest Plans for the Boulevard

A short but very interesting article in this morning’s RTD discusses the redevelopment plans for the area around the Diamond on Boulevard.  The focus of the article was more on the deadline yesterday for developers to submit their bids on the project, but I found the details of the City’s plans for the area to be more interesting than the names of the developers

(Although, it is interesting that Douglas Development Corp. has bid on the project.  That’s the firm owned by Douglas Jemal.  They are firmly entrenched in DC and Maryland, and have been buying up properties downtown over the past couple of years.)

Per the advertised qualifications for the bids, the City has outlined their vision of the redevelopment:

  • a new 8,000-seat baseball stadium closer to I-95 — When I first read that,  I couldn’t imagine it being very much closer than the Diamond is now, but it could be moved back towards the I-95 South entrance ramp.
  • redevelopment of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control headquarters, perhaps to include the relocation of the Richmond Coliseum to this site
  • demolish the Diamond, using the 27-acre site for a mixed-use development
  • demolish the city maintenance complex, resulting in another 27-acre site for redevelopment
  • build a parking deck beside the Arthur Ashe Center

It will be interesting to see it all move forward, and to see the renderings that the chosen developer presents.  If anyone has further insight on the project, I would love to hear more!

Movieland: The new frontier

A couple of weeks ground was broken on the new cineplex on Boulevard.  There has been a lot of buzz about it, and judging by the hits on some of my prior posts on the development (from 03/14/07, 11/30/06 & 05/18/06), I would say that there is quite a bit of interest from the general public.

The report from River City Rapids has me very excited to see the finished product from Bow Tie Partners.  This is a company that gets it!  Look over Jon’s post, Movies On The Boulevard: Even Better Than You Think, to see all the details that I haven’t seen anywhere except for on River City Rapids.

Comments on The Crupi Report

I just finished reading The Crupi Report, and there is quite a bit that I agree with…and some that I don’t.  Instead of taking this post to get into the individual points that I am for or against, I wanted to share my most immediate gut criticisms of the report:

  1. What was up with the misspellings?  I noticed a handful sprinkled throughout the report (and I wasn’t looking for them) — "lose" was mispelled a couple of times, i.e.
  2. What is the "medium of house prices"?  I assume Dr. Crupi meant "median", but I can’t be sure.  Maybe he meant average?  Who knows…
  3. There was a quote from "A black leader" that said "I drank from the back of the bus, but it doesn’t define my life."  I get the meaning and appreciate it.  But, am I missing some piece of historical reference here or is that a mixed reference — i.e., sitting at the back of the bus and having to drink at a different water fountain?  Given the other mistakes in the report, I don’t know whether that is a misquote or the actual words he/she used.  Either way, it’s  wouldn’t have used it in the report as-is.

My point is not to be nit-picky, but come on, these are pretty simple mistakes to catch and correct.  Why undermine your credibility by letting them slip through?  I certainly don’t think that my writing is perfect, but I’m not getting paid to produce reports that are going to be read by an entire region.

Getting past the simple mistakes, I enjoyed the overall theme of urging cooperation and overarching vision as necessary for the strategic growth of the entire region.

One of my favorite quotes from the report was:  "It is ironic that while people in the counties recognize that the city can influence it with negative pollitical and economic images, they under-appreciate the benefits of what would happen if those same images were positive."

I am anticipating a great future for the Richmond-metro area, and I think that this report was a great way to generate interest and involvement by the general populace.

New Downtown Master Plan released today

The new Downtown Master Plan was presented today.  See the following link for a quick RTD article about it: Richmond leaders see vision of downtown – News – inRich.com.

Here are links to the different parts of the plan:

It looks like a night of reading reports, between this new release and catching up on The Crupi Report.  I hope to have some insightful feedback for you within the next couple of days.

[edit, 5/17/10: I realize that the links for the Master Plan no longer work, but I don’t seem to be able to find where they’ve put it. If you find it, please add a link in the comments below! — NVH]

How to influence the future of Richmond

There aren’t many times in a region’s development where the leaders sincerely ask for guidance and input from the general populace.  Granted, this has been an initiative organized by a group of local business leaders and headed up by the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, but it is getting a lot of attention from the general population and recognition by the local governments.

If you are watching for the report delivered last Monday to be mentioned in the local news or blogs, it has been referred to as "The Crupi Report".  Dr. James Crupi was brought in "to re-examine the
greater Richmond area and make recommendations that would enhance its
future development and competitive position." — (see the article about the report on Richmond.com, or another article here from RTD)

I still need to sit down and read the report for the details, and I am hoping that the majority of people in the region do the same thing.  For your own You can find the report over at the GRCC‘s website by clicking here.  Over the next several months, those same business leaders who commissioned the report are looking for reactions from all of us.

An open forum on the subject is scheduled for Tuesday night at 7pm at the Richmond Times Dispatch’s Public Square, which will be held at their Hanover production facility.  (Click here for the announcement of the Public Square)  The address is
        8460 Times-Dispatch Blvd. Mechanicsville, VA 23116.  See you there!

Chesterfield Town Center gets facelift

The former movie-theater at Chesterfield Town Center is finally being redone, with the move of Barnes & Noble from across the street, the opening of a new Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, and a brand new Coldwater Creek retail store.  In addition, the mall’s owners will be updating the front of the mall that faces Huguenot Road.

(see "Renovation for Chesterfield mall" from the RTD for the source story)

Johnny Giavos’s next project

I don’t know how this slipped past me, but Johnny Giavos is apparently not content with the hectic pace of running 4 restaurants (3 Monkeys, Kitchen 64, Kuba Kuba, and Sidewalk Cafe).  It seems he is a glutton for the punishment of opening new restaurants, too.

Here is a snippet from the end of a Style Weekly article from 9/28/07 about the National Theater:

Next door to the National, well-known restaurateur Johnny Giavos … is opening a new restaurant. The
two-story restaurant will be located adjacent to and underneath the
National with an elevator providing early access to shows for ticket
holders.

The National is on the corner of East Broad Street and 7th Street (and has its own Myspace page), and it is being renovated into a 1,500 person live music venue with a similar feel as The Norva in Norfolk, VA.

If the reception to the latest Giavos creation, Kitchen 64, is any indication then this new restaurant should be a surefire hit.  I’m excited to hear more details about the concept and progress!

Improving Shockoe Bottom – One Building at a Time

Front1_2 Shockoe Bottom has been going through quite a few improvements and has been experiencing a resurgence in business activity over the past couple of years.  There are several buildings in the area that have been in sore need of a make-over.  One such building is at the corner of North 18th Street and Walnut Alley.

I am happy to report as the property manager for the building that a tenant has been found for 6 North 18th Street, and renovation work has already begun.  Be on the watch for the transformation of the exterior, and the yet-to-be-disclosed-to-the-public business to open in early Spring 2008.

Update on Shockoe Bottom

News from Shockoe Bottom:

  • Papa Ningo is moving next door to its current location at 1703 East Franklin Street, into a bigger space that will include a dance floor.
  • Deuces Wild will be opening as a dueling piano bar at the former Moondance space on 17th Street.
  • BPM (Beats Per Minute) will be opening in the old Tonic Thai space at
    14 North 18th Street. It will be a club that features DJs that not only
    spin music, but do the same with videos. It’s something that’s big in
    NYC, Las Vegas, etc.*
  • The space at the corner
    of 18th and Main is being fully renovated and will be opening under the
    name "Goodfellas".

Keep your eye on Shockoe Bottom.  There are a lot of good things going on down there that will help increase the visibility and the viability of the area.

*Tonic Thai was sold by yours truly.  (I can’t let the opportunity for a little self-promotion pass by entirely.)

Toad’s Place is open

Per the RTD this morning, Toad’s Place opened last night with the Squirrel Nut Zippers, as planned.

A couple of hitches that are in the works of being resolved:
1) ABC license will not be available for another 10-15 days (so no alcohol)
2) restaurant will open in about 30-45 days
3) 2nd and 3rd floors will open once the restrooms are completed

Total capacity right now (w/o the 2nd and 3rd floors) is "just over 1,000".

Even with the small issues, I am glad to hear it is finally open.

UPDATE(2): New Downtown Hilton Hotel

From "UPDATE: New Downtown Hilton Hotel", posted here on 11/18/06:

And as a side note:  This hotel will be a full-service upscale Hilton,
but developers are not revealing which sub-brand name they will be
using.

Style Weekly reported this past Wednesday that HRI Properties has downgraded this site to a more limited-service Hilton brand, "Hilton Garden Inn".  You may be familiar with this brand already, but the spokesperson points out that this location will have more "bells and whistles".  (Actually, the Hilton in Innsbrook is a Hilton Garden Inn.)

Some news that I hadn’t seen before was regarding a full service restaurant, The Great American Grill, and an additional 25,000SF of retail space, all of which will be at the bottom of the hotel building.

The Great American Grill is already being used in Hilton hotels across the country, here is a review of one in Hampton Roads: Rise & Dine blog (Hampton Roads, VA).  You can easily find other sites by Googling "great american grill, hilton", but the other pages I found didn’t have anything specific regarding the quality of the restaurant.  Consistently, the description was "American cuisine, under $10", and they all seem to be in Hilton Garden Inn hotels.

More Developments for Boulevard

So it looks like Boulevard is on the rise.  There are enough projects going on that even if one or two fall through, the momentum is still there.  It’s exciting to see the area that is the introduction to Richmond for many people coming into the area off of I-64/I-95 finally being developed the way it should.

There are a couple of options on the block for the city-owned property adjacent to the Diamond.  I have posted before about the proposal for the new baseball stadium there.  From an article in the March 2007 issue of Richmond Magazine, there is another proposal that entails VCU using the same land as a tennis complex.  The "plans include a field house, six to eight indoor tennis courts, 12 to 14 outdoor courts and a center-court stadium, as well as a possible student-housing component".

The Boulevard Square cineplex and retail development mentioned in previous posts is still on track, from what I understand.

There is a new restaurant that is being built out along that corridor, as well.  I had heard rumors of this, but Style Weekly confirmed it with more details last week:

[Cole Bucholtz] and the owners of River City Tattoo, Jessika and Rob Weaver, are opening Strong Hill Dining Company
in a building that once held Motor Europa. The three are renovating it
from the ground up, bringing in all new kitchen equipment, a bar,
booths and tables. Plus, they’re planning to install a rooftop patio
and a small private dining room for parties.

I have even heard rumors of other moves that could be very interesting, but can’t be verified at the moment.

Even smaller pieces have fallen into place over the past couple of years, with the retail shops getting face-lifts and gaining new tenants, filling in the holes.

Any suggestions as to what could keep this momentum hot?  I’m all ears.

UPDATE: “Chippenham Place” (Cloverleaf Mall)

Last week, the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors approved Crosland’s initial plans for the redevelopment of Cloverleaf Mall.  The plans include at least 500 residential units and 200,000 SF of commercial space.

From an older report, the outparcels that have been consistently active will remain, and Kroger has signed on to build out their largest store yet in the Richmond-metro area.

This certainly sounds like it is moving along nicely, and it will help the area turn around after years of decline.

For a more thorough report of the announcement, read "Cloverleaf’s Newest ‘Place’" on Richmond.com.  Here is a clip from that article that I found gives us some insight on the timeframe we are looking at for the redevelopment:

“It’s not
unrealistic for a project of this size to be absorbed over a period of
four years perhaps even until build out,” [
James Downs, vice president for Crosland’s retail division] said. “The commercial
component, however, we see moving forward immediately.”

(For previous posts about this topic, see Something’s Moving at Cloverleaf Mall on 12-28-06)

Something’s Moving at Cloverleaf Mall

This bit of news slipped by me when it hit the RTD a couple of weeks ago, but thanks to the Chamber of Commerce pointing it out I’m all up to date! 

After a long period of silence about the status of Cloverleaf Mall, there is movement.  In January, Chesterfield County officials expect to have a signed purchase agreement from Crosland Inc., who will be redeveloping the site.  The buyers have been involved since May 2006, and have several versions of a proposal that calls for redeveloping the aged mall into a mixed-use development.

Several plans have been proposed since Chesterfield purchased the property in 2004, all of which include a "pedestrian-friendly community that blends residential and business components".  The county has said that it will be subsidizing the redevelopment, in order to make it work.

UPDATE: Performing Arts Center

There are a couple of major updates since my last update on here (Performing Arts Center Update):

1. About a month ago, the new name of the project was announced as "Richmond CenterStage"

2. Yesterday the Foundation announced that the fundraising goal of $20 million in private funds by 12/31/06 has been met and exceeded.  I heard the news this morning on NPR and on NBC, but I am sure that there will be (if there hasn’t been already) plenty of news in the papers and the Richmond blog community about this news. — The proposed timeline is to break ground in Spring 2007 and be open in early Fall 2009.

Where is the Baseball Stadium Going?

Well, if the newest plans reported in the RTD this Sunday are adopted, then it won’t be going far.

Richmond City owns 60 acres of property around the Diamond, 30 acres of which currently houses the "Parker Field Maintenance Complex" — the city’s public works and maintenance operations center.  Relocation plans for these outdated facilities have already been announced — well, maybe "plans" is too strong of a word.  I think that "intentions announced by city officials" is a better way to put it.

There are a few options that open up with the moving of the Maintenance Complex, including:

  1. build a new stadium in place of the complex
  2. turn it over to developers for "an urban district of homes, shops, and offices alongside a sports and entertainment complex"

If the City opts for #2, then it can either refurbish the existing stadium or continue to argue about other possible sites.

While I see the benefits of both, I agree with Wilder that we are running out of time to find a solution to the ballpark issue.  If we don’t move on this now, and use this opportunity to move forward, then we might as well just scrap the idea of a new ballpark altogether.  This is the perfect opportunity to have a new stadium and not ruffle any feathers about historic preservation.

(Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sunday 12/10/06, "Plans pitched for stadium on Boulevard") 

UPDATE: Cineplex Slated for Boulevard

This is a call-back to a posting several months ago (5/18/06, to be exact): New Cineplex Slated for the Boulevard?  — see the post to get up-to-speed

This has been long in the works, obviously, and is still in the early stages.  As Style Weekly pointed out in this week’s edition ("Merger Won’t Slow Boulevard Complex"), the architectural plans are still being drawn up.

But there is no rush for Bow Tie Partners (the developers), as Richmond Steel isn’t planned to relocate for another 8 months.

Some interesting facts from the article:

  • the new cineplex will be called Movieland
  • the redevelopment project is being called Boulevard Square
  • there will be 13,000+ sq ft of retail and restaurants in the development
  • the area where Bowtie originally planned for a cineplex is called Jefferson Square (between Main, Cary, 3rd & 4th Streets)

Things Are Heating Up at VCU

For the details, see "Fire at VCU’s new business school" at The Richmond Democrat.

I am just glad that this one did not spread like the one a couple of years ago at the new dorms (that were also under construction, by the way).  I hope this isn’t going to be an ongoing trademark of any projects built under the VCU banner.

I like all of the development that VCU is doing, and the business that it is bringing to the area — but please don’t burn down the city in the process!

News on Condos (not such a surprise)

Condos, condos, condos….  If you read this blog at all, then you know my viewpoint on the ongoing fad of converting everything to condos.  (and if you don’t, then just keep reading)

I don’t have a lot to say about it right now, but I wanted to point you to an article on MSNBC.com from a couple of weeks ago: "Scramble for affordable apartments" — and especially to this quote from the article about residential condo development:

In smaller markets such as Portland, Ore., Richmond, Va., and Omaha, Neb., demand has outpaced development.

I’ve been saying it for a while, but it’s nice to have something in the news backing me up on it.

UPDATE: New Downtown Hilton Hotel

People have been asking me for an update to my post from 5/2/06 ("New Hilton Hotel redevelopment of Miller & Rhoads") which outlined the redevelopment of the old Miller & Rhoads department store downtown into a sparkling new Hilton hotel, along with lots of new condo units (just what we need) and new retail space.

Anyone driving by the site on Broad Street can see that not a whole lot of progress has been made.  One would think that the project has just been forgotten.

In fact, the construction has just been delayed a few months due to various factors:  the recent rise in construction costs, difficulties in financing, the softening in the housing market, and tax credit issues.  The developers expect to have everything in place and to begin construction in December.

And as a side note:  This hotel will be a full-service upscale Hilton, but developers are not revealing which sub-brand name they will be using.

(Source:  "Downtown Hilton Delayed to December" in 11/8/06 edition of Style Weekly)

High-Rises Planned Along James River

A Northern Virginia developer wants to build two 18-story buildings at the bend of the James River [beside Libby Hill Park].

Falls Church-based USP Rocketts LLC is planning the development, which
would have up to 260 condominium units as well as a health club and a
restaurant, on the vacant lots next to Great Shiplock Park on Dock Street in the East End, according to its request that the city rezone the property.

– from N.Va. firm plans towers locally reported by the RTD

A request for permission to exceed the height-cap will need to be approved by the city, and nearby residents are not thrilled by the idea.  Regardless of the developer’s intentions to pour money into the surrounding area (including Libby Park and Great Shiplock Park), the overriding concern is the blocking of "the river view that inspired William Byrd to name the city he founded after Richmond-upon-Thames, just outside London."

The proposed site is the 3000 block of Dock Street, the former site of the Tarmac Concrete plant.
 

El Rio Grande demolition

As reported by Haduken.com, the long-standing Mexican restaurant located on West Cary just west of VCU was demolished today (9/14/06).

Link: Say goodbye to the Rio Grande.

As I posted on a comment there:

I represented a client that was in negotiations to buy El Rio Grande
at the beginning of the year. The deal didn’t happen, but I did learn
that Eck Enterprises is rebuilding there, and the plan was to have at
least one more restaurant take it’s place.

They were hoping
to have El Rio Grande stay and intended to help them through the
construction, but I don’t know the outcome any more that what you can
see for yourselves.

Sad to see a landmark like that go away, but sometimes it is time to move on.  I have seen the plans from several months ago, and the planned buildings look great!  I am excited to see how this stage of redevelopment from Eck Enterprises will come together.

(See also: 2006 Golden Hammer Awards)

 

All cereal, all the time

In today’s RTD, a new type of restaurant for Richmond is highlighted in the article "Got milk? Oh, yeah, six kinds . . ."

The new eatery at 823 W. Broad St. was designed for folks who breakfast all day, or at least between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. To accompany its 37 cold cereal choices (plus oatmeal, come winter), Out of the Box offers six kinds of milk, eight kinds of fruit and three candy toppings.

Plus juices, coffees, teas, energy drinks, muffins and yogurt parfaits.

It’s a simple concept not unlike building your own burrito or salad. Belly up to the corrugated aluminum bar, name your poison and shuck out $1.99 to $3.99 for a 16- to 32-ounce snap-crackle-and-popalicious bowl of sugary goodness.

"Out of the Box Cereal Co." is a very interesting concept, apparently borrowed from a franchise that is popular in other metro areas.  I heard about this last year, when the news of the impending opening was floating around.

I have to say that I’m skeptical, but interested to see how it does.  (And interested to try it out!)

Apparently, there is a fad of restaurants opening with a single-item men, i.e., "I heard of a store with nothing but french fries with 20 different sauces!".  hmmm…

 

2006 Golden Hammer Awards

If you haven’t seen the Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning, pick it up.  There are quite a few good articles related to business and real estate today.

One in particular that I want you to note is the profile on Ed Eck.  This man and his company  have done (and continue to do) a great service for Richmond in redeveloping the area just west of VCU, specifically along the West Main St and West Cary Street corridors.  (If you are struggling to identify where I mean, think of the pastel colored buildings along West Main Street, Mulligan’s, the old El Rio Grande, Gold’s Gym, etc.)

Congratulations to Ed for winning the Andrew Asch Developer Award, from the pool of 2006 Golden Hammer Awards, from A.C.O.R.N. (Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods) for "contributions to historical conservation".

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners and nominees!

VCU Moves Forward

As reported in the RTD in "VCU projects get green light", everything is moving forward with the second phase of the Monroe Campus.  This is the big construction project that is 11 acres east of Belvidere Street, which will:

  • move the award-winning VCU Adcenter
  • construct new 440-bed residential complex
  • construct new 685-space parking deck
  • construct new medical science building
  • construct new research building

I know there are some that shudder at the thought of VCU "steam-rolling" into all of these areas that they have been working on over the past several years.  It’s exciting, though.  A lot of these areas are underdeveloped or abandoned, and VCU’s presence is revitalizing these areas that have been more or less left-for-dead.  Kudos to Trani and the VCU board!

Landlord vs. National Tenant

Link: Style Weekly : Richmond’s alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion.

One of Shockoe Bottom’s most heralded redevelopment projects smells like chicken-wing grease, charges a lawsuit filed two weeks ago.The landlord of Canal Crossing, at 101 S. 15th St., is suing a tenant — the operator of a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant — claiming the persistent smell of grease is seeping into posh neighboring offices and disturbing other tenants.

You can read all the play-by-play details for yourself in the above-referenced link.  I just wanted to point out why landlords do (or should) think ahead when allowing a particular business to set up shop in their buildings.  I love restaurants, and do a lot of business with restaurants, but even I have to admit that they have an impact on the other tenants in the building — especially a busy and successful restaurant such as Buffalo Wild Wings.

I certainly don’t know the particulars of the case, so I don’t entertain the idea that I know what is exactly going on here (so my comments should not reflect on how the case should be handled). 

The key here is:  Before you accept a tenant, think about how that business will affect the rest of the tenants in your property.  In the same vein, think about how the tenant will affect your property itself.  Heavy usage means more wear and tear, which should be reflected in the upfront negotiations — and not brought up as a surprise later.

Condos reverting to apartments

As USA Today reported, the recent cooling of the real estate market nationwide is causing the the buyers of condos to dry up.  Coupling that with the trend of converting multi-family housing to condos (which I see is still a hot trend in the Richmond market), there is a glut of condos available.

This is having two directly observable results:

  1. Rents are rising as the supply of rental units shrinks due to conversions to condos, and the demand for rentals increases as mortgage rates rise.
  2. Some developers are noticing the first result, and converting their condo buildings back to rental units.

(see also Stronger Market for Apartment Investors  & New Hiton Hotel redevelopment of Miller & Rhoads )

College Areas Good for Investing

While students are the not always the best tenants, there are lots of good reasons to buy investment properties in college areas.


College enrollments expected to rise by almost 1.6 million students, or
15 percent, over the next 10 years, according to the U.S. Department of
Education, and the number of graduate and professional students is
growing even faster, at almost 25 percent.

With the increase in students, there will of course be a rise in professors, administrative staff, space needed by the colleges, and supporting industries (research, retail, restaurants, etc.).  While the article at REALTOR� Magazine Online -Daily News- College Town Properties Are a Smart Buy focussed on small college-dominated towns, this is a very good sign for Richmond.  With Randolph Macon, VCU, UR, VUU, and the community colleges here, the areas around each of these schools will feel the impact.

Now is the time to jump in and start investing for the future growth, especially since the market has slowed down just a bit.

[Source: Dow Jones Business News, Jennifer Openshaw (07/04/2006), cited in the article mentioned above]

City Budgets for Shockoe Bottom

I have heard a lot of dissent about the way that Shockoe Bottom has been ignored by the city.  Sure, sure, the business owners in the Bottom feel slighted from the lack of assistance in response to promises made after Gaston.  But I have heard a lot of people complain about the lack of focus on keeping the streets clean.

There is even a special property tax (only assessed to property owners in the Bottom) that is supposed to go to keeping the area nice.  Maybe the tax isn’t enough, I don’t know.  But something needs to be done to retain existing businesses and to attract new businesses.  (And, yes, I am aware that this "special" tax is assessed in other areas, but I don’t think that most people know about it.)

In any case, this news that Style reported on yesterday was a welcome announcement (now we just need to be sure that it is spent the way it is intended):

Link: Style Weekly : Richmond’s alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion.

City spokesman Linwood Norman says that in the budget passed June 27, $1.9 million is set aside for drainage improvements in Shockoe Bottom. And $3 million is earmarked for The Main Street Plaza, a kind of pedestrian connector between the 17th Street Farmer’s Market and an expanded Canal Walk. Norman describes the project as a “cathedral” walk marked by elaborate brickwork and lighting that compliments the $54 million Main Street Station across the street.

WSJ.com – Arenas of Dreams: But Will Teams Come?

There was an interesting article on WSJ.com the other day that should resonate with anyone following the news in Richmond regarding the debate over the Baseball Park initiative.  This is an issue that cities across the U.S. are struggling over.

It would be interesting to see some kind of official reaction to this information from both/all sides of the local debate.

Link: WSJ.com – Arenas of Dreams: But Will Teams Come?.

But while arenas with big-time tenants may bolster a city’s self-image and quality of life, evidence shows they have a minimal economic upside. Most operate at a loss.

In "The Economics of Sports Facilities and Their Communities," published in 2000 in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, authors Andrew Zimbalist of Smith College and John Siegfried of Vanderbilt University argue that "independent work on the economic impact of stadiums and arenas has uniformly found that there is no statistically significant positive correlation between sports facility construction and economic development."

The authors cite several studies, including one by sports economist Robert Baade that found "no significant difference in personal income growth from 1958 to 1987 between 36 metropolitan areas that hosted a team in one of the four premier professional sports leagues and 12 otherwise comparable areas that did not." The authors’ conclusion: Arenas put a drag on the local economy by hurting spending on other activities in the city and boosting municipal costs such as security.

Expansion of Henrico County Enterprise Zones

Henrico County is currently voting on the expansion of their Enterprise Zones.  These zones are areas especially designated for special programs that are designed to lure new business into the area.

In Henrico, companies that build or renovate in
Enterprise Zones are eligible to receive a variety of state and local
benefits, including – among others – free architectural drawings to
suggest exterior improvements; a seven-year tax exemption; grants
totaling up to $30,000 or 33 percent of total renovation costs
(whichever is less); employment and training assistance and various
other county advice.

Several areas within Henrico County already offer such benefits for relocating businesses and starting up new businesses.  The proposed expansions are as follows:

  • a western expansion of 131 acres along the eastern side of Staples Mill Road between Wistar Drive and Parham Road;
  • a central expansion of 563 acres along portions of Laburnum Avenue, Mechanicsville Turnpike and Nine Mile Road;
  • an
    eastern expansion of 697 acres stretching along Williamsburg Road
    (generally between Nine Mile Road and Charles City Road) and along
    Audubon Drive.

The expansions are being voted on this week!  Keep an eye out for the results.

Keep in mind that the City of Richmond
and other surrounding counties also have designated Enterprise Zones,
and so does the State of Virginia.

For the full story, see the 5/17/06 edition of the Henrico Citizen.

New Cineplex Slated for the Boulevard?

As reported in Style Weekly (5/17/06), there are plans for the redevelopment of Richmond Steel, just a short walk from the Diamond. 

Plans for an entertainment complex … that include a 12-theater multiplex and two restaurants are those of Bow Tie Partners, a real-estate development and entertainment company with principal offices in Manhattan and Aspen, Colo.

Bow Tie Partners specializes in redevelopment of historic and architecturally significant properties, while its affiliate, Bow Tie Cinemas, owns and operates a string of luxury movie houses.

As exciting as it sounds, we won’t know until the plans get a little further along.  As Style points out, "in May 2005 Bow Tie Partners bought a 2-acre block downtown….preliminary plans included retail and residential space and a movie cinema."

[Read more…]

New Hilton Hotel redevelopment of Miller & Rhoads

After 5 years of trying to get a good plan in place, the redevelopment of the Miller & Rhoads department store in downtown Richmond looks like it is finally within reach.  The artist’s rendition of the redevelopment was unveiled last Wednesday, with the help of Mayor Wilder and several other City representatives.

Once completed, the
project will include a 250-room Hilton Hotel with full amenities as
well as 150-unit condominium complex. The hotel will also bring 20,000
additional square feet of retail space to the area. The condominium
units are expected to start in the low $200,000s.

See the full article at Richmond.com.