“Instead of finding a big ticket location, Sperity listened to my needs and found what I was looking for. I was never waiting on them for anything. They handled both parts of the transaction, which was incredible,” Doug said. “I was able to sit back and let them run with it.”
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.
“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!
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.
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.
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.
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Today was the big day for the Shops at White Oak Village! The
eagerly anticipated shopping center was formally introduced to the
community this morning, and while the line of speakers patting each
other on the back for a job well done was the agenda for the event (and
well deserved!), the important news is that this is not your typical
Every developer says that their shopping center
is unique, but this time it was proven. Not only was the environment
taken highly into consideration in the construction and build-out, but
the way the traffic is controlled and the landscaping is done lends to
a very pedestrian-friendly environment.
Then again, this is the
same developer that did Short Pump Town Center and that was a new style
for the area, too. I have to say that it is refreshing to see that
there are developers doing such high quality work and not just churning
out the same strip mall over and over again.
Lately I have seen a flood of inquiries for information on the newest addition of shops in the East End of Richmond — The Shops at White Oak Village. From all of the internet traffic, it is easy to believe that this shopping center will be a huge hit.
With the GRAND OPENING occurring this Monday, October 13, it is an appropriate time to revisit the project and see how everything stands for the public unveiling. All of the shops that were revealed in the previous post (3/27/08) have been confirmed, plus quite a few more. Take a look at this page of the official website for the directory of shops.
Several comments from the previous post called for a fitness center, a Chipotle, and a movie theater. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem as though any of those are on board yet — except that there is a Qdoba scheduled to open right away!
There is a grand opening event on Monday that I will be attending, so I will be sure to report back with my impression of the overall project and see if I can bend the ear of an insider to find out about any other hot pieces of info to share!
Be sure to check back next week for the update, or just subscribe using your feed reader or by typing your email address in the "subscribe" box under my picture along the left hand side of this window (be sure to confirm your address when the service sends you their email). If there is anything else you would like for me to find out, leave a comment and I'll see what I can do!
Since there have been so many inquiries to my blog regarding The Shops at White Oak Village (see previous entries on the subject from 5/15/07 and 6/15/06), I thought it was time for an update. Considering the time between each posting on the shopping center development, maybe I should consider labeling this as an annual update…
Now there is an official website for the project, and there are confirmed tenants listed:
- Circuit City (I suppose it will be one of the new "The City" stores)
- Hyatt Place
- Red Lobster
- Sam's Club
Here's a factoid that I knew but had forgotten — the developer for The Shops at White Oak Village is the same developer that put together Short Pump Town Center and River Lofts at Tobacco Row, Forest City Enterprises. Of course, given the confirmed tenant mix so far, White Oak will be a very different shopping center than Short Pump is. That doesn't mean it won't be a good mix, just that it will be different — hopefully different in the way that reflects the needs and wants of the surrounding demographics.
It looks as though the project is still on target for a grand opening in Fall 2008, but we'll keep an eye out for any updates to that — and maybe another update before a full year passes…
[EDIT (10/13/08): Click here for the latest update on the Shops at White Oak Village.]
[EDIT (10/31/08): Click here for pictures and a post about the grand opening today!]
I’m not a residential real estate agent (although I can refer you to several good ones, if you need), so I don’t usually address home purchasing issues on this blog. I do, however, follow many good blogs that focus on residential real estate and every once in a while come across a gem that begs to be shared. Going forward, I’ll be sure to share those postings here when the topic is applicable to the Richmond market.
Here is the first of these postings: "Buying new construction without a Realtor? Read this first!" by Jim Duncan on REALCentralVA.com.
Jim makes a good point that:
One size certainly does not fit all. Certainly, not all new
construction contracts are this odious and one-sided, but buyers (and
Realtors) need to be aware that this type of contract is out there, is
being used and is being signed by Buyers without even a hint of Buyer
Be sure to read Jim’s post. It’s scary that this kind of language is in a contract. Another lesson to take from this is always read before you sign anything and make sure you understand the language that is being used.
A short but very interesting article in this morning’s RTD discusses the redevelopment plans for the area around the Diamond on Boulevard. The focus of the article was more on the deadline yesterday for developers to submit their bids on the project, but I found the details of the City’s plans for the area to be more interesting than the names of the developers
(Although, it is interesting that Douglas Development Corp. has bid on the project. That’s the firm owned by Douglas Jemal. They are firmly entrenched in DC and Maryland, and have been buying up properties downtown over the past couple of years.)
Per the advertised qualifications for the bids, the City has outlined their vision of the redevelopment:
- a new 8,000-seat baseball stadium closer to I-95 — When I first read that, I couldn’t imagine it being very much closer than the Diamond is now, but it could be moved back towards the I-95 South entrance ramp.
- redevelopment of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control headquarters, perhaps to include the relocation of the Richmond Coliseum to this site
- demolish the Diamond, using the 27-acre site for a mixed-use development
- demolish the city maintenance complex, resulting in another 27-acre site for redevelopment
- build a parking deck beside the Arthur Ashe Center
It will be interesting to see it all move forward, and to see the renderings that the chosen developer presents. If anyone has further insight on the project, I would love to hear more!
The City of Danville, Virginia, has endured more than its fair share of economic woes. There was a series of plant closings between 2003 and 2006 that resulted in loss of a few thousand jobs.
In the meantime, international companies have been targeting Virginia for their North American expansion plans. IKEA is one of those companies. IKEA-supplier and -subsidiary, Swedwood North America, is IKEA’s first manufacturing plant in the United States. The announcement of their planned plant in Danville came in October 2006, and already 125 of the expected 740 employees are in place.
Now, another IKEA-supplier is planning to locate a new plant just a few blocks away in Danville. Governor Tim Kaine announced Thursday that Polish company Com.40 will be bringing 813 jobs to the area. (see the entire press release here) The RTD reports that production on the plant is scheduled to begin at the end of this year.
I just finished reading The Crupi Report, and there is quite a bit that I agree with…and some that I don’t. Instead of taking this post to get into the individual points that I am for or against, I wanted to share my most immediate gut criticisms of the report:
- What was up with the misspellings? I noticed a handful sprinkled throughout the report (and I wasn’t looking for them) — "lose" was mispelled a couple of times, i.e.
- What is the "medium of house prices"? I assume Dr. Crupi meant "median", but I can’t be sure. Maybe he meant average? Who knows…
- There was a quote from "A black leader" that said "I drank from the back of the bus, but it doesn’t define my life." I get the meaning and appreciate it. But, am I missing some piece of historical reference here or is that a mixed reference — i.e., sitting at the back of the bus and having to drink at a different water fountain? Given the other mistakes in the report, I don’t know whether that is a misquote or the actual words he/she used. Either way, it’s wouldn’t have used it in the report as-is.
My point is not to be nit-picky, but come on, these are pretty simple mistakes to catch and correct. Why undermine your credibility by letting them slip through? I certainly don’t think that my writing is perfect, but I’m not getting paid to produce reports that are going to be read by an entire region.
Getting past the simple mistakes, I enjoyed the overall theme of urging cooperation and overarching vision as necessary for the strategic growth of the entire region.
One of my favorite quotes from the report was: "It is ironic that while people in the counties recognize that the city can influence it with negative pollitical and economic images, they under-appreciate the benefits of what would happen if those same images were positive."
I am anticipating a great future for the Richmond-metro area, and I think that this report was a great way to generate interest and involvement by the general populace.
The new Downtown Master Plan was presented today. See the following link for a quick RTD article about it: Richmond leaders see vision of downtown – News – inRich.com.
Here are links to the different parts of the plan:
- Table of Contents
- Chapter One – Research & Analysis
- Chapter Two – Designing in Public
- Chapter Three – Foundations of the Plan
- Chapter Four – Getting There
- Chapter Five – Transportation Analysis
- Chapter Six – Housing & Market Analysis
- Chapter Seven – Implementation
It looks like a night of reading reports, between this new release and catching up on The Crupi Report. I hope to have some insightful feedback for you within the next couple of days.
[edit, 5/17/10: I realize that the links for the Master Plan no longer work, but I don’t seem to be able to find where they’ve put it. If you find it, please add a link in the comments below! — NVH]
There aren’t many times in a region’s development where the leaders sincerely ask for guidance and input from the general populace. Granted, this has been an initiative organized by a group of local business leaders and headed up by the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, but it is getting a lot of attention from the general population and recognition by the local governments.
If you are watching for the report delivered last Monday to be mentioned in the local news or blogs, it has been referred to as "The Crupi Report". Dr. James Crupi was brought in "to re-examine the
greater Richmond area and make recommendations that would enhance its
future development and competitive position." — (see the article about the report on Richmond.com, or another article here from RTD)
I still need to sit down and read the report for the details, and I am hoping that the majority of people in the region do the same thing. For your own You can find the report over at the GRCC‘s website by clicking here. Over the next several months, those same business leaders who commissioned the report are looking for reactions from all of us.
An open forum on the subject is scheduled for Tuesday night at 7pm at the Richmond Times Dispatch’s Public Square, which will be held at their Hanover production facility. (Click here for the announcement of the Public Square) The address is
8460 Times-Dispatch Blvd. Mechanicsville, VA 23116. See you there!
In some of the biggest news that Prince George County, Virginia, has seen in quite some time, Governor Tim Kaine announced on Tuesday that Rolls-Royce PLC has chosen to locate their new plant 25 miles south of Richmond City. The facility will test and assemble engines for mid-size business jets, and will have the capacity "to produce components for the F136, an advanced fighter engine for the Department of Defense’s Joint Strike Fighter." (from "Turbine-Maker Rolls-Royce to open plant in Virginia" in The Beaufort Gazette)
Rolls-Royce PLC will employ 170 people when the plant opens in 2009, and may employ up to 500 with potential expansions. The company has purchased 1,000 acres in the county, but the actual size of the facilities have yet to be determined.
Virginia won out over 7 other states that were under consideration for the plant site, and the state schools were cited emphatically as a driving factor behind the decision. That’s a great endorsement not only for the economic environment in Virginia, but obviously a win for the schools as well.
A point of contention among some (see comments at the bottom of this RTD article) is the monetary incentive that the state of Virginia has promised to Rolls-Royce PLC to get their commitment to our area. The cash value of all of the related incentives is $56.8M. Of course, with a price-tag like that there is going to be some second-guessing on how appropriately it was handled.
One of the comments on the article suggested that the money would be better spent for incubating local businesses, rather than courting a large corporation. Given my slant towards small, independent businesses, I was inclined to agree — at first.
At first glance, an investment of that magnitude could make a huge impact on many local businesses by itself, and here we are throwing it away on a large corporation that already has more money than they know how to handle. On the other hand, the local presence of a world-class company will bring not only recognition to Virginia, but also business opportunities (large AND small) and increased educational opportunities (through interaction with the state schools).
Now, I have to agree that this should not become a habit, but sometimes it makes sense to pony up the incentives to bring an international company here.
In this case, I think it makes perfect sense. Good job, Virginia!
It would seem that the majority (or a vocal minority?) would say NO!!! Of course, I’m more of a city boy, so I like the development, as long as it is done well and doesn’t turn the landscape into NoVA.
The RTD ran an article yesterday about how Hanover has reached 100,000 residents. The irony, as most people have pointed out, is that the area is so popular because of the slower pace, the good school system, the larger building lots, and sparser population. Of course, more people in the area detract from these benefits that are so popular.
I have always had a negative impression of Hanover’s ability to work with businesses. Maybe my impression is founded on their working with small businesspeople, not the big box retailers that seem to be taking over Mechanicsville so easily.
Even more interesting than the article itself was the reaction in the online comments section. The commenters remind us that Hanover is not just the 360/Mechanicsville corridor, but also Doswell, Ashland, and many other sections that each have a distinctive identity from one another.
So mark me down on the side of development, but with the caveat of recognizing that the planners seem to be doing a fairly decent job of controlled growth, which is important.
There’s a recent growth spurt in the cinema sector here in Richmond lately, or at least in the plans for new cinemas. In today’s RTD, “Lease signed for cineplex” lays out the plans for Regal Cinemas to open a 16-screen digital theater complex at Westchester Commons, at the intersection of 288 and Midlothian Turnpike.
As I’m counting (and I may be missing a theater or two, please chime in if you know of one that I’ve missed!), that makes four either announced or opened within the past year.
The others that I know are:
- Regal’s 16-screen cineplex at Southpark Mall, which opened in July 2007
- “Movieland” at Boulevard Square (the old Richmond Steel facility)
- unknown branding or official naming, but the location is at the corner of Mechanicsville Turnpike and Creighton Road — across Creighton from the Kroger/American Family shopping center
And of course, each of these cineplexes have the accompanying retail and sometimes residential component coming along with them.
In the case of the Westchester Commons theater, it is part of a much larger development being developed by Zaremba Group, Watkins Center, which will contain more than a million SF of retail space, 1,600 residential units, and 2 million SF of office space (per Zaremba’s website). The entire development is scheduled to be open for business in spring of 2009. Here are the plans for Westchester Commons, as supplied by Zaremba Group.
More information has been released and has been reported by the RTD regarding the plans for The Shops at White Oak Village. With all of the comparisons to local area shopping malls, I thought this was going to be a "lifestyle center" like Stony Point Fashion Park or Short Pump Town Center.
The article in the RTD ("Sam’s, Penney plan new stores") from this past Friday, however, highlighted a number of the stores going into the shopping center planned to open in latter part of 2008 near the Laburnum Avenue exit off of I-64 (the one in the East End, not Northside). These are not your typical "mall" stores, but more like one of these big box strip centers (a la the strip centers that pop up around the big shopping malls).
Target, Lowe’s, Ukrop’s, Sam’s Club, and J.C. Peney have all been confirmed as new tenants. The site is 136 acres, and is planned to house a total of 913,606 square feet of retail, as well as a 150-room hotel. Other possible tenants (not confirmed) are Red Lobster, Circuit City, Panera Bread and Ruby Tuesday.
June 2007 is the expected start date for construction.
Two new high schools are slated for the ever-developing West End of Henrico. One of the newest high schools in that area, Deep Run, is expected to have 1,853 students as of next fall — and that’s already 3 students above the intended capacity.
The first new high school is planned for 2010, on the site south of Springfield Road, off of Staples Mill Road. The contract for that site was approved last month for $13.6M.
The second site is 205 acres on Kain Road, slightly northwest of Short Pump Town Center. The proposed purchase price (including site reviews and other costs) is $26.7M, and the intended usage would be not only a new high school for 2016 (or earlier), but also a public park and a fire station.
See "Henrico targets Short Pump site for future school" in this morning’s RTD (or yesterday’s shorter, online version "Henrico considers large land purchase") for more details. It’s a very interesting read, even just to keep informed on who the players are in Henrico’s development.
Well, if the newest plans reported in the RTD this Sunday are adopted, then it won’t be going far.
Richmond City owns 60 acres of property around the Diamond, 30 acres of which currently houses the "Parker Field Maintenance Complex" — the city’s public works and maintenance operations center. Relocation plans for these outdated facilities have already been announced — well, maybe "plans" is too strong of a word. I think that "intentions announced by city officials" is a better way to put it.
There are a few options that open up with the moving of the Maintenance Complex, including:
- build a new stadium in place of the complex
- turn it over to developers for "an urban district of homes, shops, and offices alongside a sports and entertainment complex"
If the City opts for #2, then it can either refurbish the existing stadium or continue to argue about other possible sites.
While I see the benefits of both, I agree with Wilder that we are running out of time to find a solution to the ballpark issue. If we don’t move on this now, and use this opportunity to move forward, then we might as well just scrap the idea of a new ballpark altogether. This is the perfect opportunity to have a new stadium and not ruffle any feathers about historic preservation.
(Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sunday 12/10/06, "Plans pitched for stadium on Boulevard")
Condos, condos, condos…. If you read this blog at all, then you know my viewpoint on the ongoing fad of converting everything to condos. (and if you don’t, then just keep reading)
I don’t have a lot to say about it right now, but I wanted to point you to an article on MSNBC.com from a couple of weeks ago: "Scramble for affordable apartments" — and especially to this quote from the article about residential condo development:
In smaller markets such as Portland, Ore., Richmond, Va., and Omaha, Neb., demand has outpaced development.
I’ve been saying it for a while, but it’s nice to have something in the news backing me up on it.
A Northern Virginia developer wants to build two 18-story buildings at the bend of the James River [beside Libby Hill Park].
Falls Church-based USP Rocketts LLC is planning the development, which
would have up to 260 condominium units as well as a health club and a
restaurant, on the vacant lots next to Great Shiplock Park on Dock Street in the East End, according to its request that the city rezone the property.
A request for permission to exceed the height-cap will need to be approved by the city, and nearby residents are not thrilled by the idea. Regardless of the developer’s intentions to pour money into the surrounding area (including Libby Park and Great Shiplock Park), the overriding concern is the blocking of "the river view that inspired William Byrd to name the city he founded after Richmond-upon-Thames, just outside London."
The proposed site is the 3000 block of Dock Street, the former site of the Tarmac Concrete plant.
While students are the not always the best tenants, there are lots of good reasons to buy investment properties in college areas.
College enrollments expected to rise by almost 1.6 million students, or
15 percent, over the next 10 years, according to the U.S. Department of
Education, and the number of graduate and professional students is
growing even faster, at almost 25 percent.
With the increase in students, there will of course be a rise in professors, administrative staff, space needed by the colleges, and supporting industries (research, retail, restaurants, etc.). While the article at REALTOR� Magazine Online -Daily News- College Town Properties Are a Smart Buy focussed on small college-dominated towns, this is a very good sign for Richmond. With Randolph Macon, VCU, UR, VUU, and the community colleges here, the areas around each of these schools will feel the impact.
Now is the time to jump in and start investing for the future growth, especially since the market has slowed down just a bit.
[Source: Dow Jones Business News, Jennifer Openshaw (07/04/2006), cited in the article mentioned above]
There was an interesting article on WSJ.com the other day that should resonate with anyone following the news in Richmond regarding the debate over the Baseball Park initiative. This is an issue that cities across the U.S. are struggling over.
It would be interesting to see some kind of official reaction to this information from both/all sides of the local debate.
But while arenas with big-time tenants may bolster a city’s self-image and quality of life, evidence shows they have a minimal economic upside. Most operate at a loss.
In "The Economics of Sports Facilities and Their Communities," published in 2000 in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, authors Andrew Zimbalist of Smith College and John Siegfried of Vanderbilt University argue that "independent work on the economic impact of stadiums and arenas has uniformly found that there is no statistically significant positive correlation between sports facility construction and economic development."
The authors cite several studies, including one by sports economist Robert Baade that found "no significant difference in personal income growth from 1958 to 1987 between 36 metropolitan areas that hosted a team in one of the four premier professional sports leagues and 12 otherwise comparable areas that did not." The authors’ conclusion: Arenas put a drag on the local economy by hurting spending on other activities in the city and boosting municipal costs such as security.
Link: TimesDispatch.com | White Oak: Short Pump East?.
White Oak: Short Pump East?
Jun 15, 2006
LOCAL NEWS: Henrico County
The Henrico County Planning Commission is scheduled to decide tonight whether to recommend rezoning for a proposed shopping complex in eastern Henrico that would be nearly the size of Short Pump Town Center.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the county administration building, 4301 E. Parham Road. The public is invited to speak on the case before the vote.
Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises Inc., the developer of Short Pump Town Center, proposes to build the 950,000-square-foot White Oak Village complex on 136 acres along Laburnum Avenue just south of Interstate 64.
It is the site of the former Viasystems Technologies Corp. plant, which closed in 2001. Forest City plans to raze the plant.
By comparison, Short Pump Town Center is about 1.1 million square feet. The total square footage of White Oak Village would be slightly less than that of Virginia Center Commons but more than that of Regency Square mall.
Click here for great deals from Dell!
Once the Planning Commission either recommends approval or denial, the rezoning case then moves to the county Board of Supervisors for the decisive vote.
For full coverage, see tomorrow’s Times-Dispatch.