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Councilwoman Gray hosting online Second District town hall, introducing two resolutions to help small businesses

Councilwoman Kim Gray (2nd District) issued a statement today calling for the City of Richmond to support small businesses, especially the hard-hit restaurant industry, during the COVID-19 crisis, through two draft resolutions.

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Councilwoman Kim Gray (2nd District) issued a statement today calling for the City of Richmond to support small businesses, especially the hard-hit restaurant industry, during the COVID-19 crisis, through two draft resolutions.

Gray’s first proposed paper asks the City administration for revised revenue estimates for FY 19-20 and FY 20-21, including any assumptions and methodologies used in the revised forecast, by April 3.

A second proposed paper calls for the Administration to find ways to administratively, legally or legislatively accomplish the following:

  1. Rescind the Richmond City meals tax for the months of February, March and April (March, April and May payments);
  2. Refund 50% of the 2020 Richmond Business, Professional and Occupational license taxes paid by restaurants prospectively to the City in January 2020 or later (given that estimates of future restaurant sales for the remainder of the year were based on normal operations, which is no longer a realistic assumption); and
  3. Re-forecast restaurant-related revenues for FY 19-20 and FY 20-21 to allow for timely amendments to the current and proposed annual budgets in order to offset any fiscal impacts.

Both proposed papers also call for the Administration to submit new budget recommendations based on the impact of the effects of COVID-19 to date.

“While the Governor is aggressively addressing the major health and education issues confronting our Commonwealth, City Council needs to prepare for the long-term battle and help pave the way for ultimate economic recovery,” Gray said in a news release. “First and foremost, we need to create a substantial contingency fund to address the many challenges that lie ahead. That will require a revised revenue forecast for the current fiscal year and the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2020. Creating such a contingency will also require hard choices and due diligence on each and every expenditure by the City.

Equally important will be meaningful and immediate tax relief for our small businesses and especially our restaurants. Richmond restaurants face perhaps the highest tax burden of any industry in the City, and its workers have been the most immediately affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Finally, the City needs to build long-term COVID-19 prevention into every decision. The dismantling of the Camp Cathy encampment is a case in point: With no long-term plan for the housing of these individuals, they, as well as the community at large, are vulnerable to further transmission of the virus.”

City Council should not be forced to make what will likely be very tough budget decisions on the fly with outdated information,” Gray said. “We need the city government to come together to meet the needs of its citizens, and that may very well require additional tax relief to the most threatened families, individuals and businesses in the City.”

Gray will host a Facebook Live session tonight, Monday, March 30, at 7 p.m. to discuss the proposals and hear from Richmond residents. View her page here.

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Veteran baker to open brick and mortar bakery operation in Lakeside

Up All Night Bakery, a new brick and mortar for 20-year baking veteran Jonathan Highfield, will take over the former Pulp RVA space at 5411 Lakeside Avenue.

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From Richmond BizSense:

Jonathan Highfield has kneaded dough for about 20 years, both in the employment of and instruction of others. This year, he’s baking a venture entirely of his own creation.

He recently signed a lease on 5411 Lakeside Ave., where he plans to open a production facility for his Up All Night Bakery by March.

Up All Night was launched as a part-time gig in late 2019, making croissants, breads, cookies and other baked goods that are sold at farmers markets and to a few wholesale customers around town.

Highfield currently bakes in the kitchen of the Early Bird Biscuit Co.’s Bellevue Avenue location during the business’s off-hours. He said he decided to move Up All Night elsewhere because he had outgrown the Early Bird space.

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Family of local freight and transportation company makes $2 million donation to children’s hospital construction project

The Children’s Hospital Foundation’s matching campaign effectively will double the gift to $4 million.

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A local freight and transportation provider has made a major gift towards the construction of the forthcoming Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU expansion. In addition to the company’s gift of $150,000, Estes family members committed $1.85 million to support the Wonder Tower, the new home for Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU’s inpatient, emergency, and trauma services.

The two donations from Estes Express Lines and the Estes family were matched by the Children’s Hospital Foundation, maximizing the total investment in the Wonder Tower to $4 million. As part of the capital campaign to raise $100 million, the foundation is matching the first $25 million in gifts from the community.

“The support of Estes Express Lines and the Estes family is extremely meaningful. We’re grateful they’ve added their voice and support to our mission to build a world-class pediatric hospital in Richmond,” said Lauren Moore, president and chief executive officer of Children’s Hospital Foundation. “They’re truly a values-focused company and family, and their gifts reflect the importance they place on protecting children and their childhoods.”

“We are a family-owned business that’s had the honor of working with thousands of Richmond-area families for nearly 90 years,” said Rob Estes, president and CEO of Estes Express Lines. “Children deserve the best possible medical care when they need it, and we’re proud to support Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, as a company, and as a family.”

As part of the donation, some areas of the Wonder Tower will be named in honor of Estes, including the hospital’s loading dock, a nod to their work as a freight carrier business. The gift includes additional recognition of the family’s generosity throughout the building.

Once complete in spring 2023, the Wonder Tower will bring world-class pediatric facilities to Central Virginia. Located in downtown Richmond, the 16-story tower will be home to CHoR’s Level 1 pediatric trauma center, emergency room, inpatient units, new operating rooms, increased imaging capacity, and family amenities — all in an environment created just for kids and their loved ones.

“The children’s tower is being built for and by our community thanks to generous friends like the Estes,” said Elias Neujahr, CEO of CHoR. “It will be a beacon of hope for kids and families across the Commonwealth while helping us attract and retain top talent so our children have access to be the best care, close to home.”

In 2021, Estes Express Lines will celebrate its 90th anniversary as CHoR finishes its centennial year. “Let’s all come together to support the Wonder Tower, a special place where all families and children can receive exceptional pediatric care, right here in Richmond,” said Estes.

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New Publix supermarket opens its doors in Carytown

The new grocery store at Carytown Exchange is the fourth within a two-block radius and joins Kroger, The Fresh Market, and Ellwood Thompson’s.

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From WTVR:

After years of anticipation, Publix supermarket will open its doors in Carytown Wednesday morning.

The 48,000 square feet grocery store, located at 3535 Ellwood Avenue, will celebrate its grand opening at 7 a.m.

The supermarket will anchor the new Carytown Exchange shopping center which will also feature free parking in a new two-story parking deck.

In December 2018, Publix signed a lease to anchor the Carytown Exchange shopping center, replacing the former Martin’s in the Richmond Shopping Center.

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