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Mayor Stoney announces $1.5 billion Navy Hill redevelopment plan, including new arena, transit center

The plan will see the transformation of the Navy Hill neighborhood and include an arena, hotel, retail and office, and more. Though committing to a public approval process, Mayor Stoney responded to one reporter’s question about a petition signed by 15,000 city voters to add a ballot referendum on the project saying, “The project’s moving forward either way. I don’t have time to worry about political stunts.”

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Mayor Levar Stoney today announced that the city administration has completed negotiations with The NH District Corporation (NHDC) on a plan to redevelop the area surrounding the Richmond Coliseum, a $1.5 billion plan that would transform the Navy Hill neighborhood and include a new arena, hotel, transit center, and other amenities.

Stoney said at a press conference that the project would revitalize downtown Richmond and dramatically increase the city’s capacity to fund education, housing, transit, streets and neighborhoods for generations to come. The plan, subject to the approval of Richmond City Council, will be submitted in the form of ordinances and supporting legal documents introduced at a special meeting of the council to be held on Monday, August 5.

“The ordinances we will deliver to the city council on Monday propose a responsible and inclusive opportunity to grow our economy by creating a thriving city center and community,” he said. “The agreement we have negotiated ensures that the Navy Hill development project will create thousands of jobs, hundreds of affordable housing units, job-training opportunities, new revenue, and world-class amenities for ALL Richmonders.”

The project is, according to the mayor’s office, projected to generate $500 million in annual wages in the region, in addition to an estimated $1 billion in surplus revenue to the city over 30 years for priorities such as education, housing, streets, and the arts.

Highlights of the negotiated proposal, as provided by the mayor’s office in a press release:

  • 12,500 jobs in construction and 9,300 permanent jobs
  • 480 affordable housing units with more in the future
  • $300 million in minority business participation
  • New GRTC bus transit center
  • Renovated historic Blues Armory
  • New arena to replace the Richmond Coliseum
  • New 525+ room Hyatt Regency hotel

“This project is not only the largest economic development project in the city’s history but also the largest economic empowerment project in our city’s history,” the mayor said. “The overarching goal for this proposal is to significantly improve the quality of life for all Richmond residents.”

Under the proposed agreement, the Department of Social Services will stay in its current location until a future home can be found downtown. If another home cannot be found for DSS, the city will be under no obligation to move from its existing facility at Marshall Plaza.

Thursday’s announcement follows 17 months of negotiations between the city and Richmond-based community leaders of the nonprofit NH Foundation on behalf of NHDC, working with the developer, Capital City Partners (CCP). The mayor claims the agreement accomplishes the city’s goals without utilizing debt capacity, and without taking any existing tax money away from our schools or services. It does so without raising taxes, and without any subsidies or handouts for the developers of this project.

“During this time, we worked hard to memorialize in legal documents unprecedented protections for the city to ensure this project will be a safe and responsible investment for Richmond without leaving the City or taxpayers on the hook,” said Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn, the lead negotiator of the city’s team. “As the mayor has said, we’ve dotted the “i’s” and crossed the “t’s,” and the language in the ordinances will make sure that what we have agreed will happen, does happen.”

Leaders of NHDC and CCP will host a series of public outreach and engagement sessions with city residents in the coming weeks in addition to participating in the legislative process with city council and the Navy Hill Development Advisory Commission it formed to evaluate the proposal over the next 90 days.

“NH District Corporation’s goal is to help create a diverse downtown neighborhood that welcomes everyone,” said Dr. Monroe Harris, NH Foundation Board member. “Lots of people have worked hard to shape this plan, and we are excited to share the full detail of the project next week.

Still, many remain skeptical of the mayor’s plan, citing instances in which information on the project has been obscured or not made available to the public. Over 15,000 Richmond residents also signed a petition started by local lawyer and activist Paul Goldman, which would trigger a question on November’s election ballots asking whether the city should move forward with the project as planned. When a local reporter asked about the petition at Thursday’s press conference, Stoney was unfazed. “The project’s moving forward either way. I don’t have time to worry about political stunts,” he said.

More detailed information on the project can be found here.

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Venture Richmond teams up with city for “Picnic in a Parklet” program to assist businesses during reopening phases

“We acknowledge the difficulty Richmond businesses face when trying to safely reopen and want to do what we can to make that easier on them,” said Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Riverfront and Downtown Placemaking for Venture Richmond. “Parklets have the potential to offer an attractive, comfortable space for customers to physically-distance adjacent to the business, which may be needed for a smoother reopening. We look forward to working with any business in the city that submits a request.”

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Venture Richmond has announced a new initiative, “Picnic in a Parklet,” a program designed to assist Richmond restaurants and other businesses with Phase 2 and 3 of Forward Virginia. Through this new partnership with the City of Richmond, business owners can receive design and permitting assistance for their requests for more outdoor space, particularly parklets.

Parklets are outdoor patio spaces constructed in the on-street parking lane of the street in front of a business that can function as an area for customers to gather and/or take to-go orders and eat outside in a physically-distanced environment. Parklets are, by definition, public space; but, restaurants can offer lightly packaged to-go orders for people who simply want to dine in the parklet in front of the restaurant.

“Transforming our use of public space innovatively and sustainably requires partnerships just like this one,” said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. “By linking the business and design communities, this program will expand the city’s growing network of creatively designed public spaces.”

Business-owners who are interested in temporarily converting an on-street parking space adjacent to their storefront into a parklet will be connected with Venture Richmond to better assess their needs. If a parklet will be helpful and appropriate, Venture Richmond will work with the American Institute of Architects Richmond Chapter (AIA Richmond) to connect businesses with a certified architect for pro-bono parklet design services. Venture Richmond will assist the applicant through the steps needed to obtain a permit from the City of Richmond.

“We acknowledge the difficulty Richmond businesses face when trying to safely reopen and want to do what we can to make that easier on them,” said Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Riverfront and Downtown Placemaking for Venture Richmond. “Parklets have the potential to offer an attractive, comfortable space for customers to physically-distance adjacent to the business, which may be needed for a smoother reopening. We look forward to working with any business in the city that submits a request.”

Unless otherwise specified or revoked, parklet permits are valid for three years. All requests within Richmond City limits will be considered.

Requests for parklets can be submitted through the RVA Strong website. General information about parklets can be found here, and more information about the City of Richmond’s Parklet Program can be found here.

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Former staff from Julep’s, Pasture, Comfort launch Richmond’s first “ghost kitchen”

Their business, Dunharrow Concepts, launched its first restaurant concept on Thursday, June 25th with a limited menu. Garden Party is a strictly vegetarian and vegan concept featuring indulgent snacks, sandwiches, and salads. 

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Jon Martin, formerly of Julep’s and Pasture, and Liz Clifford, formerly of Comfort, have opened Richmond’s first ghost kitchen.

A ghost kitchen is a delivery-only restaurant that allows the parent business to operate multiple concepts from one commercial kitchen.

Their business, Dunharrow Concepts, launched its first restaurant concept on Thursday, June 25th with a limited menu. Garden Party is a strictly vegetarian and vegan concept featuring indulgent snacks, sandwiches, and salads.

With no brick and mortar, Clifford and Martin can keep the focus on the food.

“We’ve spent our entire professional careers feeding people,” Clifford said. “The ghost kitchen concept allows us to keep overhead low. We don’t have to worry about the expenses that come with running a traditional restaurant including designing, maintaining, and staffing a physical space.”

Dunharrow Concepts operates out of Hatch Kitchen RVA, a food and beverage incubator and commercial kitchen located at Clopton Siteworks in Manchester. They have partnered with UberEats with plans to add other delivery services in the coming weeks.

The husband-wife duo, who moved from DC two years ago, is passionate about ensuring those with food restrictions don’t have to miss out on experiencing a good meal.

“Cooking for vegans with a nut allergy makes you push boundaries,” says Clifford. “With all ordering online, items can be easily customized to accommodate most dietary restrictions and food preferences.”

Menu items range from a BBQ Tofu Bahn Mi, crispy green beans, a Tex Mex Salad to homemade fudgy brownies.

Next month, Clifford and Martin plan to launch two additional concepts, Fat Kid Sandwiches which will feature overstuffed subs and clubs, and Victory Garden which focuses on made-to-order salads.

For more information on Dunharrow Concepts and Garden Party, visit gardenpartyrva.com or follow @gardenpartyrva on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Carytown Panera closes permanently, joins Stony Point location’s announced closure last week

The Carytown Panera has shuttered permanently, according to Richmond BizSense. The announcement follows another last week indicating the Stony Point location will be shut down for good, too.

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The Carytown Panera has shuttered permanently, according to Richmond BizSense. The announcement follows another last week indicating the Stony Point location will be shut down for good, too.

From Richmond BizSense:

Another local outpost of Panera Bread has hit the chopping block, this time in Carytown.

The restaurant chain’s location at 10 N. Nansemond St. in the Carytown Place shopping center is permanently closed. The closure follows that of the Panera outpost in Stony Point Fashion Park.

It’s unclear when or why the Carytown Panera permanently closed. The restaurant didn’t alert Maryland Financial Investors, which manages the center, about the closing, property manager Scott Cherry said.

“We found out about it the same way the community did,” Cherry said.

Continue reading here.

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