Shop Locally, Boost the Economy

Over the past few years we’ve heard people talking about the importance of shopping local. These programs have been springing up across the country, urging consumers to join the ”Buy Local” movement.

So, what difference does it make when communities shop at local businesses?

Well, the truth is when consumers buy from local stores instead of big box stores, more of their money stays in the community.

“Those purchases are twice as efficient in terms of keeping the local economy alive,” says The New Economics Foundation researcher David Boyle, in this article in Time magazine.

This movement plays a big role by boosting the economy and generating more jobs in the community.

Although sometimes the costs may be slightly higher at locally owned businesses, there are many benefits, such as lower transportation costs, more eco-friendly communities and the opportunity to form growing relationships with local business owners.

Buying local also alerts the community about the gaps in the market, creating a stronger sense of entrepreneurship and pushing for new businesses to prosper in markets that hadn’t previously existed locally.

When spend your money in RVA it keeps our neighborhoods unique with prospering local businesses versus streets lined with big box retail chains.

Here in Richmond, there are a few organizations that are dedicated to encouraging consumers to buy local goods and services. The Greater Richmond Retail Merchants Association is well known for their Think. Shop. Buy. Local movement, a large scale movement that works to promote the economic benefits of buying local goods by working across Richmond and the surrounding counties.

Originally created as a project at VCU, ShopRVA is a smaller nonprofit made up of local businesses, organizations, and individuals who are joined together to promote the culture and individuality of RVA. ShopRVA was created in 2009 and works to make RVA more green, economically and environmentally. Their goal is to make Richmond businesses into a strong foundation for a thriving local economy.

 ”ShopRVA is new and filled with so much potential, people should listen to what they have to offer,” said Micah West, a student who worked with ShopRVA at VCU’s 2012 Social Media Institute. “They support the great things we have in the Richmond area and they want to express the creativity and personality of Richmond.”

These organizations work to remind us what makes Richmond such a unique city and they highlight why RVA is a wonderful place to live, eat, work and shop. With local restaurants on nearly every block, small markets throughout the Fan, and unique stores and boutiques in neighborhoods like Carytown and Libbie & Grove it is easy to shop RVA.


Venture Richmond Forum Unveils New Developments in RVA

After years and years of work throughout the city, Downtown Richmond is finally getting the attention it deserves, thanks to a nearly $1 billion dollar makeover from the state.

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.

Another project in the works is by the Franklin Development Group, who is working to revitalize the Manchester District by building a 17-acre development at the Reynolds South Property.

“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!


Carytown Cupcakes Expands AND Crepes Come to Carytown

For all you dessert enthusiasts out there anticipating the next sweets shop to open up in Carytown, the time is almost here!  Among a bevy of bakeries, sweets and confectionery shops, Carytown will be adding to its list of sweets shops a bigger location for Carytown Cupcakes and a new dining spot for French cuisine: Carytown Creperie.

Carytown Cupakes, a Richmond tradition known for its decadent desserts, is opening its new location at 3111 West Cary Street, across from Can Can Brasserie.  A grand opening date for the new location is still up in the air, but owners Dawn & Albert Schick promise the new and improved cupcake boutique is coming soon with even better cupcake concoctions. (Meanwhile, the old location at 2820 West Cary Street is still open!)

After the big move, the former cupcake shop will be magically transformed into Carytown Creperie, a new crepe shop featuring the traditional French-inspired cuisine with a twist: fast, take-away crepes for on-the-go dining.

Read the rest of this entry »


Brown Greer Goes Waterfront on Rocketts Landing

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.

Rocketts Landing Memorial Day 2012 event

Check out these recent articles in the Times-Dispatch and Richmond BizSense, which give a more detailed look into Brown Greer’s latest urban development.

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.


“New” development north of Broad on Staples Mill

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.


View larger map


Small rental property owners breathe a sigh of relief

There is always a lot of new legislation passed every year that sounds like a good idea at the time and generally goes unnoticed, and every once in a while the consequences of that legislation become horrifyingly apparent afterwards.

This past year, the legislation that was causing so much heartburn for small property owners was a new IRS requirement that anyone with rental property file a 1099 for any repairs that add up to $600+ over the course of the year. (see my post about it here, from December 2010)

Good news — the provision was repealed before it could take effect!! (here is the actual legislation that was passed to repeal the IRS provision, in case you would like to read it)

Hats off to the Realtor community for standing against this for the good of the mom-and-pop investors, who are the ones would be most affected by those proposed requirements — and for Realtor Magazine’s blog for bringing the repeal to my attention. From their description of how everything unfolded, it seems as though everyone understood that this was good to do:

When the provision was included in the small business bill, REALTORS® were among the first and firmest opponents of it, helping to ensure that Congress understood the provision was an example of over-reach that was never intended to burden mom and pop property owners. Members of Congress and President Obama got the message and, in a rare example of agreement between not only Republicans, Democrats, and independents, but also between House and Senate chambers and between the legislative and executive branches, lawmakers agreed the provision needed to come out.

Nice to know that we don’t have this provision coming up to haunt us over the next few years, isn’t it?

 


Redevelopment plans for Carytown get nod from Museum District

The redevelopment of the old Verizon building at 10 N. Nansemond Street has been hotly debated and contested. (see: the official site for the Carytown Place; Don’t Big Box Carytown‘s website; & this post and the accompanying comment thread on Caramelized Opinions for a good summary & feel of the debate)

The Museum District Association had originally ruled to oppose the redevelopment based on the original plans, but Friday they sent out a press release announcing the reversal of that position.  The gist of the situation can be summed up from this one paragraph in the press release:

The Board voted 13-1 in November to oppose the original SUP and subsequently provided the applicant with detailed requests for further changes to make it more amenable to the neighborhood. The applicant responded by altering the SUP to remove vehicular ingress/egress on Nansemond Street as well as reduce the number of available uses of the property to 10 uses. The applicant also agreed to limit the usable floor space of any one tenant to no more than 25,000 square feet, ensuring there would be multiple tenants in the building and ruling out a single, larger “big box” tenant.

The whole press release can be read here on the MDA’s website (right now it’s at the top, but it will shift down the page as new releases are issued).

What do you think? Are you satisfied with the MDA’s ruling, or are the changes in the plan not enough for you? In that case, what changes would be enough to get your support for the development?


Retail Real Estate Market: 2010 vs. 2011

Retail real estate has gone through a lot over the past year and will continue to evolve over the upcoming year.  I can say from anecdotal experience in our office and from what I’ve heard from other colleagues in the business that the last half of 2010 was very busy, with the level of activity only set to increase going forward.

Retail Traffic is a great resource for information on the retail real estate market and I always enjoy seeing a new issue come out.  If you don’t want to miss anything, I would suggest you watch it closely too.  Of course, if I see anything particularly interesting, I will be sure to pass it along here.  For example…..

Their “Retail Real Estate’s 2010 in Review” is a comprehensive review of the biggest stories in retail real estate over the course of the past year.

And even more important, “What Will 2011 Bring?” (which links to a few other very informative pieces)


Important! New IRS requirements for all landlords

PaperworkAnyone receiving rental payments from either residential or commercial properties will need to review the newly-enacted small business legislation called HR5297 with their accountant and how it expands 1099 reporting requirements.

Currently, only real estate professionals that engage in property management services have to use 1099 forms to report any service provider that they pay more than $600 in a given tax year.

The changes will be enacted over the next two years as follows (details from the NAR Issue Brief released recently — can be found online here or hosted on my site here):

2011 Rule: ALL persons who receive rental payments must provide Form 1099. This affects ALL owners (both individuals and businesses) of rental properties, both residential and commercial. Thus, “mom and pop” investors and those who invest in real estate for their personal portfolios are subject to the new reporting requirement. Only aggregate annual payments of $600 or more for services (but not goods) must be reported.
2012 Rule: All businesses, including real estate businesses, self-employed individuals and independent contractors will be required to make a 1099 report of any aggregate annual payment of $600 or more to any person from whom they acquired goods and services.

Please keep in mind that I am not an accountant, so before you act on any of this information (or panic. or dismiss.) please consult with your accounting/tax professional.  But when I saw this come across my desk, I thought it was important that you are aware of these new rules!

(*Warning! Sales pitch!*) And, by the way, here at Bandazian & Holden, we have dealt with these reporting requirements from when they were first enacted for real estate professionals in the property management field, and we are accustomed to handling the necessary paperwork for our clients.  If you don’t feel like dealing with it on your own, let me know and come on board with us. (*End of warning. Enjoy your day!*)


Business is getting better, Richmond

Business is booming!  Relatively speaking, at least, the economy is buzzing along.  Things certainly aren’t where they used to be, but they are getting better.  Running a small business is tough, no doubt about it — but it’s always tough.

One of the first questions I hear is “how is business” — and the answer lately has been that business is great!  The business I’m in (commercial real estate and business brokering) is busier than it has been in the past couple of years.  I can’t speak for the entire industry, but our small piece has been rolling along quite briskly.  The period between the 4th of July and Labor Day weekend is usually dead for us, except for the residential leasing, but this year defied past trends and was the busiest we’ve had in a long time.

As I’ve said in the past, I’m a small business.  I’m not Coca-Cola or Dow Chemical.  I don’t need the whole economy to be in a bubble to be doing well.  I just need to do well with and by my clients and customers to be rewarded.  Conversely, I don’t need the whole economy to be in recession for my business to be spiraling downward, either.

It’s not just our business at Bandazian & Holden that has been on the upswing lately.  I’ve been hearing from more and more friends that their businesses are doing the same thing, and that brings me great hope for everyone.

Don’t take my word for it, though.  The news outlets are tapping into the data and things are starting to spring back (or at least stop going down) all over:

From Nation’s Restaurant News: Atlanta’s restaurants seeing better days

Operators in the city pointed to an increase in private parties and convention business, which they expect to continue as the holiday season nears. And while diners remain value-conscious, some restaurateurs reported that increased drink and appetizer orders are giving check averages a boost.
From the Wall Street Journal:  Consumers Show Signs of Stirring
U.S. retail sales rose for a third consecutive month in September, posting a stronger-than-expected increase that should fend off fears of a double-dip recession but doesn’t signal a strong recovery.
And from right here in Richmond, in Richmond BizSense: Retail Slowdown Slowing Down?
For the second quarter, area sales totaled $2.59 billion compared to $2.64 billion in the second quarter of 2009.  The decrease of 1.89 percent is the smallest quarter to quarter change since BizSense began analyzing taxable sales data at the end of 2008—a sign that the slowdown may be flattening out.

Restaurants and bars are also doing a little bit better, growing sales by more than 6 percent in the second quarter. That is a big change from the 1 percent to 2 percent decrease reported for previous quarters.

What has changed?  I don’t know. Maybe people are tired of being scared and sitting on the sidelines, waiting for more bad news.  What I do know is that we got ourselves into this mess, and it’s up to us to dig our way out — everyone working on their small piece of the hole.  There is plenty of money to be made in good times and bad times, trick is that the people have to earn their money in the “bad times”.  Let’s keep making this work!

What do you think?  Have you seen business improving in your corner of the world?