Shop Locally, Boost the Economy

Over the past few years we’ve heard people talking about the importance of shopping local. These programs have been springing up across the country, urging consumers to join the “Buy Local” movement.

So, what difference does it make when communities shop at local businesses?

Well, the truth is when consumers buy from local stores instead of big box stores, more of their money stays in the community.

“Those purchases are twice as efficient in terms of keeping the local economy alive,” says The New Economics Foundation researcher David Boyle, in this article in Time magazine.

This movement plays a big role by boosting the economy and generating more jobs in the community.

Although sometimes the costs may be slightly higher at locally owned businesses, there are many benefits, such as lower transportation costs, more eco-friendly communities and the opportunity to form growing relationships with local business owners.

Buying local also alerts the community about the gaps in the market, creating a stronger sense of entrepreneurship and pushing for new businesses to prosper in markets that hadn’t previously existed locally.

When spend your money in RVA it keeps our neighborhoods unique with prospering local businesses versus streets lined with big box retail chains.

Here in Richmond, there are a few organizations that are dedicated to encouraging consumers to buy local goods and services. The Greater Richmond Retail Merchants Association is well known for their Think. Shop. Buy. Local movement, a large scale movement that works to promote the economic benefits of buying local goods by working across Richmond and the surrounding counties.

Originally created as a project at VCU, ShopRVA is a smaller nonprofit made up of local businesses, organizations, and individuals who are joined together to promote the culture and individuality of RVA. ShopRVA was created in 2009 and works to make RVA more green, economically and environmentally. Their goal is to make Richmond businesses into a strong foundation for a thriving local economy.

 “ShopRVA is new and filled with so much potential, people should listen to what they have to offer,” said Micah West, a student who worked with ShopRVA at VCU’s 2012 Social Media Institute. “They support the great things we have in the Richmond area and they want to express the creativity and personality of Richmond.”

These organizations work to remind us what makes Richmond such a unique city and they highlight why RVA is a wonderful place to live, eat, work and shop. With local restaurants on nearly every block, small markets throughout the Fan, and unique stores and boutiques in neighborhoods like Carytown and Libbie & Grove it is easy to shop RVA.

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!

Carytown Cupcakes Expands AND Crepes Come to Carytown

For all you dessert enthusiasts out there anticipating the next sweets shop to open up in Carytown, the time is almost here!  Among a bevy of bakeries, sweets and confectionery shops, Carytown will be adding to its list of sweets shops a bigger location for Carytown Cupcakes and a new dining spot for French cuisine: Carytown Creperie.

Carytown Cupakes, a Richmond tradition known for its decadent desserts, is opening its new location at 3111 West Cary Street, across from Can Can Brasserie.  A grand opening date for the new location is still up in the air, but owners Dawn & Albert Schick promise the new and improved cupcake boutique is coming soon with even better cupcake concoctions. (Meanwhile, the old location at 2820 West Cary Street is still open!)

After the big move, the former cupcake shop will be magically transformed into Carytown Creperie, a new crepe shop featuring the traditional French-inspired cuisine with a twist: fast, take-away crepes for on-the-go dining.

[Read more...]

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]