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Richmond: Economy/Business/Real Estate


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49 minutes ago, I miss RVA said:

I understand, my friend. And on the one hand, I agree - or at least I WANT to agree. But I've seen what RVA has done over the last 50 years. I've seen what she could have become 50, 40, 30, 20 years ago ... and I'm over-the-moon happy that she's on her way now! I really am. But what you described - to me anyway - just seems like settling. I can't accept that (me personally, not being critical of you and how you see our beloved city) - I just can't accept that RVA has wasted five decades of tremendous potential and allowed herself to get blown past by cities that were NOTHING compared to her back in the 1970s.  Even though I was only a kid at the time, I firmly recall all the talk back then about how RVA was poised and ready to take the mantle from Atlanta and claim HER rightful place among the greatest cities in, not only the South, but in the country. And it NEVER HAPPENED. I remember the excitement. We're going to be the next Atlanta - but because we're already a "big city" with an old "big city" core (the architecture, the neighborhoods) we're going to blow Atlanta out of the water. AND IT NEVER HAPPENED.

Just imagine Richmond as a legit big city. Maybe 800K... 900K in the city... 4 or 5 million in the metro. Imagine going to a gleaming football stadium wherever (counties, cities, who cares??) and seeing an NFL game between the Richmond Whatevers and the Washington Washingtons... Wow... Or going to a gleaming arena to see the Richmond Whatevers taking on the Montreal Canadiens for the Stanley Cup! Or to see the Richmond Whatevers taking on LeBron and the Lakers for the NBA championship... (or back in the day, seeing the Chicago Bulls and MJ come to town)...   Imagine being able to board a jet at RIC and fly ANYWHERE in the world - without paying a king's ransom - or without having to change planes in real hubs like - oh, wait... CHARLOTTE ... or ATLANTA ... why? Because RIC IS AN ACTUAL HUB!! Wow...  Imagine gorgeous 70, 80-story tall (or taller) skyscrapers on the downtown skyline - a skyline so iconic that people AROUND THE WORLD instinctively KNOW - "oh yeah, that's Richmond."  Imagine someone in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Berlin, Moscow, London, Johannesburg, Melbourne, Sydney.... saying "Oh yeah, I have business in Richmond next week... " And that happening on a regular basis ... over the last, say, 30 or so years...

The versions of the same city that we each see are as different as night and day - and yet they are the same city. How I only wish that RVA had become that powerhouse city she was poised to become five decades ago. And how I lament that she never even got off the ground toward that end - much less got there.

Your enthusiasm is thru the roof, no denying this and cheers for that.  I like what you're saying and have said them before myself, but I've changed.  The wish list items described are what you now have in Chicago or like the other cities mentioned.  I think that if anyone wants that type of city, then that's where they move, get that immediate gratification, but, I do feel people come here because it's not these things and that's the reason I'm here.  I wasn't always this way, but I am now and ok being on the slow train, relaxed and taking it all in, slowly growing and becoming a better place to live and at the same time, getting to the office in 15 minutes, being the only car on the expressway on a Sunday morning, etc.  I don't think Richmond had some grand plan to remain small and is glad they missed opportunities, but, I think many that live here are glad it's not those places.  Richmond is a great place and will continue to get better, call something paradise and kiss it goodbye.

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41 minutes ago, Brent114 said:

I’m sorry but there is zero appeal to Charlotte or Raleigh and quite frankly I’m offended that Richmond  gets mentioned in the same sentences with those places. 
 

There’s nothing south of Richmond worthy of aspiration. Richmond should look to cities like Boston, Seattle, Providence, Baltimore and Milwaukee.  Only on paper has Raleigh passed Richmond.  The reality on the ground is that it is still very small and provincial.  I’ve felt nothing but underwhelmed visiting Charlotte and Raleigh.   Those cities are nothing like Richmond and have completely different assets and challenges. 

I ‘m also tired of hearing about how inept the city government here is.  It smacks of racism (insofar as ever since the city has been run by black people, white people have been rooting for it to fail).  Old habits die hard. We grew up hearing about how Richmond cannot manage itself all the while ignoring the fact that through the years the city has grown,  cleaned up,  beautified, retained its corporate base, rose to prominence in food and art circles, reduced its poverty rates etc.  Annexation was used to suppress the black vote and when the Feds  shut that nonsense down, white people  (well, boring white people) turned their backs on Richmond and started telling anyone who would listen that the city was a dump and we bought into it.   Even today we peruse page after page of construction/business threads then talk about how the city is somehow dropping the ball.  Self loath much? 

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3 hours ago, Brent114 said:

I’m sorry but there is zero appeal to Charlotte or Raleigh and quite frankly I’m offended that Richmond  gets mentioned in the same sentences with those places. 
 

There’s nothing south of Richmond worthy of aspiration. Richmond should look to cities like Boston, Seattle, Providence, Baltimore and Milwaukee.  Only on paper has Raleigh passed Richmond.  The reality on the ground is that it is still very small and provincial.  I’ve felt nothing but underwhelmed visiting Charlotte and Raleigh.   Those cities are nothing like Richmond and have completely different assets and challenges. 

I ‘m also tired of hearing about how inept the city government here is.  It smacks of racism (insofar as ever since the city has been run by black people, white people have been rooting for it to fail).  Old habits die hard. We grew up hearing about how Richmond cannot manage itself all the while ignoring the fact that through the years the city has grown,  cleaned up,  beautified, retained its corporate base, rose to prominence in food and art circles, reduced its poverty rates etc.  Annexation was used to suppress the black vote and when the Feds  shut that nonsense down, white people  (well, boring white people) turned their backs on Richmond and started telling anyone who would listen that the city was a dump and we bought into it.   Even today we peruse page after page of construction/business threads then talk about how the city is somehow dropping the ball.  Self loath much? 

That's exactly what I'm saying!

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22 hours ago, DalWill said:

1. As a 29 yr. old, I get exactly where you are coming from with your statement about the 5 decades that past.  Factor in suburban flight, the landlocked policies (courtesy of the independent city law), a note to Reagan (and 80's Richmond) era politics,  as well as the few recessions we witnessed; this is the concoction we have. Richmond was actually set up to be a major metropolitan destination (and still). Politics and cultural entitlement ruined it out of fear of economic diversity.

2.  Richmond should be "friendly-competitive" because of the settings of what we offer as a southern densed city. With master plans and ideas on the horizon, standing ALONGSIDE the names "Atlanta" and "Charlotte" is what I strive for. No bashing from my end because they are doing something right :good:. We should enhance what we have while excelling for more.

3. Side note, do you think (if designed and structured properly) a 20-25 fl. skyscraper could work itself into a TOD if it isnt facing a sidewalk, but scaled to the back behind 13-15 fl. buildings? Because it seems that's the only way that we'll get some height now..

DalWill - GREAT post. Clearly you DO get exactly where I'm coming from. (Side note: I've got you by 30 years (I'm turning 59 in a couple of months). Indeed - you hit the nail on the head of the major issues that have held Richmond back again and again and again and again over the past five decades.

Point 1:  Richmond was indeed set up in the early '70s to be a major city - and there was SO much talk in those days of how we would explode like Atlanta, only we'd do it better because we were an old-stock city built like the big urban centers in the northeast. With the exception of mainly the newly annexed area (from the 1970 annexation and in part from the 1942 annexation) almost the entire city was set up on a dense grid. We could handle rowhouses as well as Baltimore or Philly -- there was plenty of prime real estate downtown for huge skyscrapers that were CERTAIN to be built because RVA was a magnet for Fortune 500 companies (she was holding her own even vs Atlanta back then) - lots of great things were forecast to happen that -- for the very reasons you outlined - never did. One of the biggest nails in the coffin occurred in the mid-to-late '70s when the region TURNED DOWN Piedmont Airlines - who looked to put their hub HERE and went to Charlotte after we turned them away. Good ol' Virginia "fiscal conservatism" - and the regional powers that be didn't think we needed to pony up what was required to bring a hub airline to RIC. No ..."organic"growth would be just fine for Richmond. We "didn't need" a hub - it would "cost too much". Charlotte jumped on that goal-line fumble and the rest was history.

Point 2: Agreed all the way around. The Richmond300 Plan is, by far, the BEST RVA master plan I've seen over the decades, and I've reviewed most of them that have been around since the 1970s. (Yes, I was that nerdy kid in the Richmond Public Library back in the '70s looking up in the oddball resource stacks for this kind of stuff that wasn't readily published in books but could be found in the public library if you knew where to look - and yes, my parents drove me downtown and let me loose in there for HOURS at a time so I could do my research)... I agree with you 100% - I would like us to get to a point of being able to stand ALONGSIDE "Atlanta" and "Charlotte" - but at almost 59, I simply hope I actually live long enough to see it, because it ain't gonna happen overnight.

Point 3: Do I think it would be possible to 'sneak' height into a TOD-1 zone? Yes - but I think it depends on WHICH TOD-1 parcels come into question. We both know the NIMBYs will be on to any/every trick in the book it would take to try to finagle the flaming hoops of the SUP process. It's a great idea and could work - but I think it would take deep pocket investors with some real umph to get the city to play ball. If Dominion or CoStar wanted to build a 30, 35, 40-story tower in a TOD-1-zoned area via the SUP process, I think they'd get what they wanted. The City would bend over backwards to keep those heavy hitters happy and get the tax revenue a big tower like that could bring. (I believe the old adage is: "Money talks, BS walks.") But the average residential real estate developer who has great plans for a 30-story residential tower and wants to sneak it into one of the TOD-1 zones near a nest of NIMBYs? I think we'd have a fight on our hands - probably a battle royale, unfortunately. I don't see it ending well for height.

Edited by I miss RVA
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3 hours ago, marinog711 said:

All this talk about how we want Richmond to grow…. But ask yourself, what are u doing about it? I moved here two years and I have produced two children.  I also persuaded my kids mother and her mother to move here.  That’s a +5!!!! Let’s do this organically… Men can produce into their 70s.  Let’s get out there and have some fun!  
 

edit:  think about it.. the more babies we are having the need increases for  30+ Story hospital… win win!

 

AMEN, brother!!! Preach!!! :lol::thumbsup:

As for men's production - if biblical stories are to be taken literally, (a whole different discussion for a different forum) Abraham was 99 when Isaac was conceived & born...

Edited by I miss RVA
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1 hour ago, 123fakestreet said:

Regarding the change in zoning requiring less parking spaces - makes we wonder if some existing parking lots are chopped up sold and developed. Most notable Lowe's on Broad. That's some prime real estate and they are no longer required to have all those spaces, half of which are never used...

We can always hope. Hard to say though if a retailer such as Lowes would ever part with their precious parking spaces, even through, as you said, most of them go unused for most of the year. That's one of the big downsides right now (at least in how these things get structured in RVA) to having these large-footprint "island" box store retailers - ("island" as in a large box store as an island surrounded by a sea of surface parking) - even if, say, 75% of their parking spaces go unused for 10-plus months out of the year, they always white-knuckle hold onto those spaces for that month-and-a-half holiday shopping season because GOD-FORBID a potential shopper not be able to park and come in for that much-needed Christmas hardware purchase. (After all, nothing rings in the holidays like bulk nails, nuts, screws, bolts, etc. :good::yahoo:)

I 100% agree with you - it would be SO nice to see some of that parking that fronts Broad Street chopped up and sold off for developers to come in a put up something of decent size there. Somehow, though, unless someone offers Lowes a kings ransom, I honestly don't see them parting with the property - and even an obscenely lucrative offer might not be enough to get them to come off the land not just because of parking but because of store visibility from Broad Street. Here in Chicago, there are plenty such retailers - but their stores (in the more densely developed parts of the central city) generally are much closer to the street. In the case of Target, most stores (at least on the city's North Side), are built to abut the street directly with an attached parking deck/garage. No surface lots. The farther in toward downtown, the more likely these retailers will have been built "into" a larger building, perhaps with other retail or residential or office space on the upper floors.

It would be fantastic to trade in the oceans of surface parking along that stretch of Broad Street for high density and hopefully tall development. I'm not holding my breath though.

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5 hours ago, I miss RVA said:

We can always hope. Hard to say though if a retailer such as Lowes would ever part with their precious parking spaces, even through, as you said, most of them go unused for most of the year. That's one of the big downsides right now (at least in how these things get structured in RVA) to having these large-footprint "island" box store retailers - ("island" as in a large box store as an island surrounded by a sea of surface parking) - even if, say, 75% of their parking spaces go unused for 10-plus months out of the year, they always white-knuckle hold onto those spaces for that month-and-a-half holiday shopping season because GOD-FORBID a potential shopper not be able to park and come in for that much-needed Christmas hardware purchase. (After all, nothing rings in the holidays like bulk nails, nuts, screws, bolts, etc. :good::yahoo:)

I 100% agree with you - it would be SO nice to see some of that parking that fronts Broad Street chopped up and sold off for developers to come in a put up something of decent size there. Somehow, though, unless someone offers Lowes a kings ransom, I honestly don't see them parting with the property - and even an obscenely lucrative offer might not be enough to get them to come off the land not just because of parking but because of store visibility from Broad Street. Here in Chicago, there are plenty such retailers - but their stores (in the more densely developed parts of the central city) generally are much closer to the street. In the case of Target, most stores (at least on the city's North Side), are built to abut the street directly with an attached parking deck/garage. No surface lots. The farther in toward downtown, the more likely these retailers will have been built "into" a larger building, perhaps with other retail or residential or office space on the upper floors.

It would be fantastic to trade in the oceans of surface parking along that stretch of Broad Street for high density and hopefully tall development. I'm not holding my breath though.

yeah no way would they give up massive chunks or completely lose their direct fronting to Broad, but I could see the gas station on the west end of the property having a tower go in just like the former gas station on the east end, and such a project eating up a few rows of parking from the Lowe's lot along with it, particularly the part of the lot that is behind the gas station and not fronting broad.

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Thanks for the class on NC’s growth.  It is really impressive.
 

The take away should be that the residents of NC rally around the state.  Here in VA we hate on NOVA, which is just about the dumbest thing to do, and continue to claim that the city of Richmond is inept at growing its business and population even while it is doing just that.   Suburban Richmond roots for the city to fail and it’s so ingrained in the public that even Richmond enthusiasts here on urban planet repeat the same dispelled myths about failed government.  Once again, the root cause is the racism of generations ago.  We don’t even see it when we hear about things like 6th Street Marketplace.  Plenty of cities have failed redevelopment ideas.  Richmond’s track record is probably pretty average.  The city actually succeeds most of the time.  But to fail when POC are in charge is unforgivable for white suburbanites.  The racism has waned but the digs that started because of it are alive and well. 
 

I don’t know how it works in NC but in VA annexation was used to dilute the political power of black people.  It was a scourge that only went away because the DOJ made Virginia do away with it.  Annexation is dead as it should be.  

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Suburban Richmond roots for the city to fail and it’s so ingrained in the public that even Richmond enthusiasts here on urban planet repeat the same dispelled myths about failed government.  Once again, the root cause is the racism of generations ago.  

 

Sorry if I’m misinterpreting what you are saying here (I don’t want to blow this out of proportion), but I have to ask…are you saying that comments like the ones coming from I Miss RVA in this thread are racist?!

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8 minutes ago, eandslee said:

Sorry if I’m misinterpreting what you are saying here (I don’t want to blow this out of proportion), but I have to ask…are you saying that comments like the ones coming from I Miss RVA in this thread are racist?!

I'll be interested to know myself, tbh! I haven't responded to Brent's post just yet - I wanna see where this goes.

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Brent - it’s okay to be critical of one’s government when it isn’t doing something well or we desire something to be better. That’s kind of the whole point. It doesn’t mean someone is racist because they think the city permitting office has had deficiencies, or that for a while the city of Richmond was the only locality that had trouble timely submitting its financial reporting, which nearly compromised its strong  credit rating. I know the types of comments that I think you are referring to for the most part, and I grew up in the suburbs subjected to plenty of city hating, but trying to clarify within your broad generalization that some of us want to push the city to improve and aren’t trying to run people of color out of power. 
 

On annexation, it’s common in the entire country save Virginia. I have a hard time seeing that is is somehow progressive to put the disproportionate burden of a region’s challenges (poverty, crime, etc) on the urban core without sharing the region’s resources. Annexation was abused 50 years ago but do you honestly think it would be used in the same manner today with a city that is 80+% liberal? Frankly the thinking feels almost as bad as the people that roll out 6th Street Marketplace to criticize the city. 

Edited by wrldcoupe4
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14 hours ago, wrldcoupe4 said:

Brent - it’s okay to be critical of one’s government when it isn’t doing something well or we desire something to be better. That’s kind of the whole point. It doesn’t mean someone is racist because they think the city permitting office has had deficiencies, or that for a while the city of Richmond was the only locality that had trouble timely submitting its financial reporting, which nearly compromised its strong  credit rating. I know the types of comments that I think you are referring to for the most part, and I grew up in the suburbs subjected to plenty of city hating, but trying to clarify within your broad generalization that some of us want to push the city to improve and aren’t trying to run people of color out of power. 
 

On annexation, it’s common in the entire country save Virginia. I have a hard time seeing that is is somehow progressive to put the disproportionate burden of a region’s challenges (poverty, crime, etc) on the urban core without sharing the region’s resources. Annexation was abused 50 years ago but do you honestly think it would be used in the same manner today with a city that is 80+% liberal? Frankly the thinking feels almost as bad as the people that roll out 6th Street Marketplace to criticize the city. 

Criticizing specific issues is absolutely valid, but many of us are also guilty of bashing our local government in a blanket manner.  There is certainly a difference from pointing out the councilmembers who do not have the city's interests at heart versus discrediting the council as a whole.  I bet the county governments have plenty of issues themselves but their organization and prominence keeps them from the spotlight.  Richmond's has always been front-and-center.

The annexation thing is a mixed bag.  While there were certainly desires to drown out black voices, there was also a need to acquire fresh tax revenue.  With white-flight and the existing lack of financial equality among minorities, the city was left with a majority poorer population that need much more support.  Note that housing projects were not built out in the counties where the tax base exists as support, leading to a overreliance on State and Federal revenues.  Had we not had the independent city systems that we have, growth could have been more organic without ever resorting to the ridiculousness of our annexation and unbalanced county-conversions (looking at you Queen Anne County).

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12 minutes ago, Icetera said:

Criticizing specific issues is absolutely valid, but many of us are also guilty of bashing our local government in a blanket manner.  There is certainly a difference from pointing out the councilmembers who do not have the city's interests at heart versus discrediting the council as a whole.  I bet the county governments have plenty of issues themselves but their organization and prominence keeps them from the spotlight.  Richmond's has always been front-and-center.

The annexation thing is a mixed bag.  While there were certainly desires to drown out black voices, there was also a need to acquire fresh tax revenue.  With white-flight and the existing lack of financial equality among minorities, the city was left with a majority poorer population that need much more support.  Note that housing projects were not built out in the counties where the tax base exists as support, leading to a overreliance on State and Federal revenues.  Had we not had the independent city systems that we have, growth could have been more organic without ever resorting to the ridiculousness of our annexation and unbalanced county-conversions (looking at you Queen Anne County).

There's the whole crux of it right there. The independent city system (which did not exist in Virginia until 1871) has been the bane of Richmond and a huge driver in the "we vs they" mentality of the suburban counties eye of distain toward the poorer central city. Rather than relying on regional cooperation and a "rising tide lifting all boats" - regional economics became (and remains to a very real extent) a zero-sum game. Somehow, if the city "wins" (however you define it) the counties somehow lose and vice versa. Factor in inherent old-school racism (and I totally get where Brent is coming from and, as you pointed out, icetera, those old cultural ideologies never went away and have been part of the city/county, black/white divide that has held RVA as a city and a metro back now for generations) and the whole region was set up NOT to work cooperatively in the manner in which a Charlotte/Mecklenburg County can - or (for example) a Seattle/Kings County, WA can or the way a Chicago/Cook County, IL can. Look at the two most successful independent cities in the country - Baltimore and St. Louis. Both were at the time of the 1950 census cities with populations of 949K and 856K respectively, thanks to the large concentration of heavy industry and their places as railway/shipping/transportation hubs and ports of entry. Fast forward to today - the shift away from heavy industry to technology and information - suburbanization and large demographic shifts have seen both cities continue on a downward trend in terms of population - with Baltimore currently at 586K (2020 - with 2021 estimates at 575K) and St. Louis at just under 295K ... precipitous declines in central city populations, even while the metro areas themselves continued to grow at a steady pace. While large population declines have affected many of the northeastern and midwestern Rust Belt cities, it can be argued that the impact is felt greater in the independent cities, which much bear the brunt of the costs of the core city without shared resources that other cities enjoy in a traditional city/county relationship.

All of this is to say that the independent city system in place in Virginia since 1871 has been at the core of one of the biggest problematic issues regarding governance, growth, prosperity, etc., within the RVA metro - and has long set the stage for the LACK of regional cooperation in central Virginia -- the kind of cooperation that other fast-growing metro areas across the country have enjoyed and used to foster great success, prosperity and growth.

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