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OPINION: Richmond’s food and beverage establishments put us on the map; now’s our time to have their backs

On a good day, restaurants and breweries operate on razor-thin margins and depend on a constant stream of foot traffic into their establishments to keep the lights on. Their staff are largely reliant on tips and often have little in the way of a safety net or benefits. Now, most of these businesses have gone dark. Maybe for a week. Maybe for months. We don’t know yet. What we do know is that this is going to be absolutely devastating for the service industry. What can we do to help?

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The past 11 years have been a historic run for the economy. The booming market has created prosperity and given birth to many opportunities. It’s transformed our city’s skyline as new buildings pop up all over town. And it’s enabled entrepreneurs to take risks and create a robust dining and drinking scene locally that has quite literally put Richmond on the map. Over the past decade, RVA went from being known for being the capital of the Confederacy, if it was known outside of our region at all, to racking up accolades from some of the nation’s – and world’s – most renowned publications as a place to visit, see, and be seen.

Inventive chefs have pushed boundaries, tried new concepts that a decade ago would have been unheard of, and introduced diners to new cuisines and tastes. Brewers took a chance on empty warehouses in neighborhoods like Scott’s Addition and collectively built Richmond into one of the nation’s most robust beer scenes, period. It’s no exaggeration to say that Richmond as we know it has been completely transformed by our food and beverage purveyors. We owe a lot to each of them. And today – and in the coming months – they’re going to need us unlike ever before.

On a good day, restaurants and breweries operate on razor-thin margins and depend on a constant stream of foot traffic into their establishments to keep the lights on. Their staff are largely reliant on tips and often have little in the way of a safety net or benefits. Now, most of these businesses have gone dark. Maybe for a week. Maybe for months. We don’t know yet. What we do know is that this is going to be absolutely devastating for the service industry. Jobs will be (and already have been) lost and folks will lose their livelihoods. One of your favorite spots (if not many) won’t reopen after this passes. Mark my words – Richmond’s dining scene will be reshaped and the entire landscape as we know it will shift. The impact and recovery time of the industry locally – and nationally – will be likened to a tornado having wiped out buildings in a hit-or-miss pattern.

The closure of these neighborhood standbys is an incredibly painful, unprecedented, but necessary reality as the United States collectively aims to slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the most vulnerable populations are protected from the potentially deadly effects of this disease. It’s easy for my generation to brush this off. And some of my friends have, in a very cavalier and obtuse manner. After all, we’re least likely to be affected by the spread of the Coronavirus. But, (and this may be hard for some of us Millenials to hear), it’s not about us. This is about protecting older loved ones in our lives who could contract this and not fare nearly as well as us. It’s about flattening the curve of new cases and preventing our healthcare system from being completely overwhelmed, like in Italy. I was out and about myself as recently as last weekend, but my stance on the seriousness of all of this – and our collective responsibility to one another – has changed entirely.

So, what’s one to do? How do we balance this need to practice social distancing with the need to support our friends and family in the service industry who will be so deeply hurt by this shutdown?

  • Establish contact: First and foremost, keep in contact with your loved ones in the service industry. Be quick to listen and slow to speak. This is a time of great anxiety and fear for a lot of people. Lend an ear. (This goes for our loved ones on the front lines in the healthcare industry right now, too).
  • Connect resources: Connect friends and family with resources like the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program, providing grants of up to $2,500 on an as-needed basis. Furthermore, if you’re financially in a position to do so, donate to the fund. Locally, the Holli Fund (named in honor of late local food writer Hollister Lindley) is also providing emergency financial assistance.
  • Make a purchase: Think of the restaurants and other local businesses you normally frequent and buy a gift card to enjoy their food, beverages, services, or products at a later date. Consider this a “micro-loan” to your favorite place that may make the difference between them making it through and never reopening. For a list of Richmond-area businesses from whom you can purchase an online gift card, go here.
  • Take it to go: A lot of Richmond-area establishments are offering curbside to-go service as well as delivery. Find an updated list of those you can order from today on RVAHub, here.

Stay healthy, be kind, and love one another. We’ll all get through this together – even if we’re separated while we do it.

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Henrico endorses proposed $2.3 billion GreenCity ‘ecodistrict’ development at Parham, I-95, I-295

The $2.3 billion ‘ecodistrict’ is planned around former Best Products headquarters; the project would generate nearly 2.3 million square feet of office and retail space, 2,400 housing units, 2 hotels, a 17,000-seat arena at no financial risk to taxpayers.

RVAHub Staff

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Henrico County officials are endorsing a developer’s vision for GreenCity, a $2.3 billion private, mixed-use “ecodistrict” development that would promote economic development and environmental sustainability as well as include a 17,000-seat arena for major concerts, sporting events, and other entertainment.

Officials with Henrico and GreenCity LLC announced plans for the development today at the county-owned former headquarters of Best Products, which is northeast of East Parham Road’s interchange with Interstate 95 and where the 250-acre community would extend north to Interstate 295.

“We are thrilled to endorse this bold, visionary opportunity as it is in sync with everything that Henrico County stands for and has been working hard to achieve – inclusion, resiliency, mobility, innovation, and job growth,” County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said. “We’re talking about a new kind of community that is intricately planned, inclusive for all, and thoughtfully designed to be not only livable but also to set new standards for environmental sustainability. GreenCity will be a community that preserves, embraces, and showcases open space, and it will drive economic development and tourism in new and exciting ways while remaining respectful to county taxpayers. The arena will put this region back on the entertainment map. It also will provide tremendous benefits to our county while creating no financial risk to our taxpayers.”

Envisioned as an “ecodistrict,” GreenCity would be designed around principles that promote environmental sustainability, civic engagement, and inclusion. The development would integrate extensive parks, trails, and open spaces among about 2 million square feet of office space, 280,000 square feet of retail space, 2,400 housing units, two hotels, and a $250 million arena.

The arena is planned to be the greenest arena venue in North America and would accommodate up to 17,000 patrons in flexible seating configurations to accommodate touring concerts, family shows, and potentially new sports teams, including ECHL Hockey and G-League Basketball.

The former Best Products headquarters, including its iconic Art-Deco eagle statues, would be renovated and repurposed to Living Building Challenge standards, which features the world’s highest level of sustainability design and operations. “Living buildings” provide net-positive energy and water, and produce zero waste.

The developers anticipate a formal submission of plans and an application for rezoning to the UMU, or urban mixed-use, classification in early 2021.

In anticipation of those filings, the Board of Supervisors will consider at its Jan. 26 regular meeting a proposed transfer of the Best Products site to the county’s Economic Development Authority (EDA). The EDA anticipates entering into an agreement to convey the land to the developers pending approval of the rezoning. The developers would then finalize the purchase of the land at $6.2 million – the amount Henrico paid when it bought the property in 2011.

GreenCity would seek the creation of a community development authority, or CDA, to finance the construction of the arena through a sale of bonds. Under the financing model, certain taxes generated onsite by the GreenCity development would be used to make debt payments over a period of 30 years. Once the debt is retired, all taxes generated by the development – an annual amount estimated at more than $20 million – would go to the county’s general fund.

Henrico officials expect to conduct a detailed review of the financial projections as part of its due diligence of the proposal.

“In Henrico, we have extensive experience with CDAs and understand how they can help deliver large-scale development projects that are rich with amenities and potentially transformative for the community,” Vithoulkas said. “CDAs have been used successfully in the development of Short Pump Town Center, White Oak Village, and Reynolds Crossing. Each of these projects either met or exceeded its revenue targets and now makes significant tax contributions that help us fund schools, public safety, and other core services.”

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Richmond’s first medical cannabis processor is now open to patients

Green Leaf Medical of Virginia (gLeaf) is the second medical cannabis processor to open in the Commonwealth.

RVAHub Staff

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The Virginia Medical Cannabis Coalition announced late last week that Green Leaf Medical of Virginia, located in South Richmond, is officially open to patients seeking medical cannabis treatment. Green Leaf Medical of Virginia (gLeaf) is the second medical cannabis processor to open in the Commonwealth.

gLeaf provides a variety of high-quality medical cannabis treatments to registered patients. As of last Friday, registered patients were able to visit gLeaf and speak to a pharmacist to determine the best treatment options for their specific conditions. A mid-December Grand Opening is planned.

“We are excited to bring not only relief to patients but also a boost to the Richmond area economy through our local hires and commitment to growth,” said Joy Strand, executive vice president of Green Leaf Medical and vice president of VMCC. “Green Leaf Medical has been working to provide the highest quality of product available to our patients and have the knowledge and expertise to do it well.”

Though Green Leaf Medical is located in Richmond, any registered patient from across the state can visit the facility to receive treatment.

“Patients across the Commonwealth are finally receiving the care and treatment they need, and we are honored to share the news that Green Leaf Medical is open to serve patients,” said Katie Hellebush, executive director of VMCC. “With another processor open here in Virginia, accessibility to treatment is even easier. This is exciting news for medical cannabis patients across the state.”

Before visiting the facility, you must register as a patient with the Board of Pharmacy. In Virginia, any diagnosed condition can qualify for medical cannabis treatment, as long as a registered practitioner issues a written certification. Upon receiving written certification from a practitioner, an individual can register as a patient through the Board of Pharmacy. For more information on how to become a patient, check out the Patient Registration Guide.

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Mosaic Catering & Events pays $2.1 million for new event space on Cutshaw Avenue

A historic building on Cutshaw Avenue near Scott’s Addition went for top dollar in a recent sale to a buyer banking on a return to in-person events post-pandemic.

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A historic building on Cutshaw Avenue near Scott’s Addition went for top dollar in a recent sale to a buyer banking on a return to in-person events post-pandemic.

3001 Cutshaw LLC purchased the 9,492 square foot office/retail building from 3015 Cutshaw Ave LLC for $2,125,000 as an owner/occupant. The historic building, with excellent visibility and prominence along West Broad Street, is a prime location across from Scott’s Addition and will be converted to an event center by Mosaic.

Connie Jordan Nielsen of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer handled the sale negotiations on behalf of the purchaser; Alex T. Wotring and Nicki Jassy, also with Thalhimer, represented the seller.

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