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General Assembly special session concludes with Senators vowing to represent Virginia voters

The General Assembly reconvened post-election, after the July special session was cut short without hearing any legislation. Monday’s session ended faster than in July – with both House and Senate adjourning after minutes. From the sparsely populated Senate floor, both a Republican and Democratic senator spoke briefly about their opposing goals for gun legislation in the upcoming 2020 session.

Capital News Service



By McKenzie Lambert

Nineteen of the state’s 140 General Assembly members were present Monday when the legislature reconvened at the state Capitol following the July 9 special session on gun violence that recessed in 90 minutes.

Both the House of Delegates and the state Senate held meetings in their respective chambers. Both pro forma sessions — sessions in which no business is conducted — were adjourned in less than 10 minutes.

The House started its meeting with a prayer and pledge of allegiance led by Majority Leader Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, who then called on outgoing House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, to recess the special session.

The resolution outlining the session was offered July 9 following the Virginia Beach mass shooting in May, and originally intended to only introduce legislation related to gun violence, public safety, mental and behavioral health, and matters of the General Assembly. Fourteen delegates were in attendance, and the motion was approved.

In the Senate chamber, five senators attended, including Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, who took the floor to speak.

“On July 9, with parliamentary shenanigans, this session was gaveled shut before I even could speak,” Ebbin said. “Ostensibly, we were there to give full and careful consideration to bills filed, or I should say they were referred to the Crime Commission for ostensibly extensive and careful consideration as though we didn’t know already that keeping guns out of the wrong hands could save lives.”

Ebbin then referenced the recent three-page Crime Commission report: “The absence of recommendations should not be interpreted as meaning that no changes to Virginia’s laws are necessary, but rather that any changes are policy decisions, which can only be made by the General Assembly.”

“I’m only here today to promise that come January the people of this commonwealth will see action,” he concluded.
Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, expressed a different viewpoint, saying that her district, along with others around the state, spoke loud and clear.

“The laws and the restrictions that the other side of the aisle want to put forth are going to do nothing more than hurt law-abiding citizens,” Chase said. “And for that, we will continue to vocally express our grave concerns that those will be pushed forward and we will do everything in our ability to challenge those thoughts and ideas.”

On Nov. 9, Gilbert tweeted that the special session would proceed as pro forma, and that “going forward with a session that has no chance of producing legislation that will become law would be a waste of taxpayer resources.”

“The incoming majority will have the opportunity to propose and make their case in January for policies that reduce gun violence while hopefully protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Republicans stand ready to propose our own ideas for reducing gun violence just as we have done this special session,” Gilbert stated in the tweet.

Several bills were filed Monday including HB2, introduced by Del. Ken Plum, D-Reston, which calls for universal background checks when purchasing firearms.

The General Assembly will reconvene on Jan. 8.

Imani Thaniel contributed to this report.



The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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Community Reporting Pop’s On Grace Closing in July

Fans of Pop’s only have a few month’s to hit the spot on Grace.




From and Karri Piefer

The pandemic, of course, and the devastating financial impact it had on restaurants, is among the reasons the restaurant will close.

“[There are] lots of layered reasons, some stemming from pandemic, but ultimately things can’t be the way they were,” he said. “And the vision has changed.”

But before everyone runs out and tries to crowd the restaurant all at once, remember, there are at least two months of Pop’s opportunities left.



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3rd Street Diner Sold

The exact plans for the space are unknown at this time but it supposedly will be a new restaurant.




The iconic corner cafe’s sale was announced yesterday.

Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer is pleased to announce the sale of the former 3rd Street Diner property located at 218 East Main Street in the City of Richmond, Virginia.

Ya Hua Zheng & Jianwei Tang purchased the 3,928 square foot retail building from 3rd Street LLC for $550,000 and will operate as a new restaurant.

Reilly Marchant of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer handled the sale negotiations on behalf of the seller.

I’ll confess to having never set foot inside the diner but I’ll be bummed to see the neon go away if they go down that path.



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New national study: Downtown Richmond leads City’s growth over two decades

“Downtown Richmond continues to drive economic value, creativity, and innovation for the entire region.”




Richmond’s downtown is home to more than half the city’s jobs, it has absorbed nearly half of the city’s population growth over the last two decades, and it represents 35% of the city’s total assessed property value, all on less than 5% of the city’s total land area. A study by the International Downtown Association, and recently reported by Venture Richmond, offered this and other insights.

“Downtown has a remarkable concentration of the city’s real estate and cultural assets and has been a growth driver for the City’s transformation. It has also had a significant impact on the image of the entire Region,” said Lucy Meade, Venture Richmond’s director of economic development and community relations.

As part of Venture Richmond’s Annual Community Update, David Downey, President and CEO of the International Downtown Association, provided insights into how downtown Richmond is well-equipped to rebound from the financial challenges stemming from the pandemic while sharing a new study examining the value of Richmond’s downtown.

Various generations – from Generation Z to older populations – continue to have a high demand for the downtown experience, according to Downey. He noted that Richmond’s strong housing market, walkability, quality open spaces, and diversity scores, particularly in downtown, are positive indicators for the future.

“Downtown Richmond continues to drive economic value, creativity, and innovation for the entire region,” Downey said.

With the COVID-19 vaccine distribution continuing, Downey emphasized the need for companies to create productive and efficient plans for returning to the office to address the potential loss of innovation, creativity, and collaboration when working virtually.

During the event, Downey also shared takeaways from The Value of Downtowns and Center Cities, a report that quantifies the value of U.S. downtowns across more than 150 metrics under five core value principles with a focus on how downtowns contribute to the city and region around them. From 2017-2020, the IDA analyzed a total of 37 downtowns and center cities across the country.

The pre-COVID study finds that not only does Richmond’s downtown account for a significant proportion of the region’s jobs, but the city’s core experienced the region’s biggest percentage spike in residential population growth since 2000.

The significant and insightful results from the study included the following highlights. The full report can be found


Richmond’s downtown accounted for more than half (53%) of the city’s jobs (77,465 out of 147,251) compared to the average of 40% for other “established Downtowns” in the study. Richmond leads the list of “established downtowns” with 63% of the City’s knowledge industry jobs, which is relatively higher than Seattle (58%), Minneapolis (58%), and Miami (52%); compared to the average of 41% for other “established Downtowns.”

The private sector employs 66% of jobs Downtown (50,910 jobs) and knowledge industry jobs account for 35,100 jobs.

Workers in the city center are better educated, comparably. Two in five (39%) of downtown workers have at least a college degree vs. one in three (33%) workers citywide and 31% in the region.

Residential Population

Downtown is young and educated. Today, 40% of our residents are between 18-24, and 30% of residents are between 25-34. The Downtown residential population is well educated with 57% having a bachelor’s degree or higher—up from 40% in 2010 and 40% are enrolled in college.

Most impressive was the increase in residential units, soaring 71% since 2010. However, only 14% of downtown residents own their own homes, but the racial balance of homeowners in downtown is close to even: 51% white vs. 49% non-white.

Economy and Quality of Life

Downtown is an entertainment and tourism destination with 70% of the citywide hotel rooms located Downtown – 16 properties with 2,581 rooms.

According to the report, Richmond’s downtown has one-fourth of the city’s retail businesses (478) and one-third of its restaurants and bars (252). Total annual downtown retail sales of $526 million represent 23% of the city’s retail sales. Non-Downtown residents account for 55% of that economic activity. The city center’s restaurants, bars, and breweries generate a combined $221 million in annual sales, 89% of which come from non-residents.

Downtown received a strong Walk Score of 94% and a Bike Score of 80% compared to other established Downtowns and an average Walk Score of 85% and Bike Score of 70%.

The report found that downtown Richmond’s sustainable transportation numbers left room for improvement with 65% of Downtown residents commuting alone compared to 35% commuting to work using a sustainable form of transportation (i.e. do not drive to work alone).

“As our downtown businesses continue to meet the challenges imposed by the pandemic, this IDA report is a timely reminder of the value that downtown Richmond brings to both the city and the region,” said Lisa Sims, CEO of Venture Richmond.  “Our downtown will always play a significant role in our economic, civic, and cultural lives. As more people receive the vaccine, we are confident in the economic rebound of downtown.”

To view the full IDA report online, visit Venture Richmond’s website here:



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