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BizSense Beat: Nov. 3, 2023

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BizSense Beat is a weekly collaboration between VPM News and Richmond BizSense that brings you the top business stories during NPR's Morning Edition on Fridays.

Here’s a recap of the top stories for the week of Nov. 3, 2023:

Non-profit LISC pledges $50M match to double Richmond housing investment
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Jonathan Spiers

Richmond’s efforts to increase housing availability in the city is getting a funding boost from a national nonprofit.

City leaders announced Tuesday that Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC) has committed to matching Richmond’s investment of $50 million over the next five years to support income-based housing projects in the city. The match means a total investment of $100 million over the five years between the city and LISC.

Denise Scott, president of the New York-based nonprofit that has a Virginia office in Richmond, said LISC was motivated to provide the funding match after learning of the city’s recent designation of $10 million each year in the city’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan for projects to support lower-income housing.

GRTC to introduce larger, articulated buses on the Pulse line
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Jack Jacobs

More than five years after launching the Pulse, GRTC has a project in the works to introduce new, larger buses to the rapid-transit line.

The transit agency is planning to add four 60-foot-long articulated buses to the fleet dedicated to the Pulse, which runs from Rocketts Landing in Richmond to Willow Lawn in Henrico County.

These new vehicles are larger than GRTC’s current buses, and will bring increased per-vehicle capacity to the Pulse. GRTC anticipates the new buses, which are built on-demand by Canada-based New Flyer, will be on local roads in 2025, according to GRTC spokesman Henry Bendon.

The articulated buses, so named for the accordion-like joint in the middle of the bus that helps the long vehicles make turns, are expected to cost $1.1 million each.

The project is fueled by demand for the rapid-transit line, which opened in June 2018.

‘Neighborhood watering hole’ Franklin Inn changes hands
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Mike Platania

The Franklin Inn has changed hands for the second time in less than 10 years.

The restaurant at 800 Cleveland St. in the Museum District was sold last week to Thomas Jenkins for an undisclosed amount.

Jenkins, a Hampton native who’s lived in Richmond for the last 35 years, said he’s leaving a career in the trucking and transportation industry, and that The Franklin Inn is the first restaurant he’s owned.

Jenkins bought the business and its equipment on Oct. 23 from Steven Gooch, who had owned the eatery since 2015.

Isley Brewing Company closes in Scott’s Addition, as owner is mum on its future
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Mike Platania

Scott’s Addition’s first brewery has tapped out of the neighborhood, though the company may not have served its last beer.

Isley Brewing Co. closed for business last weekend at its longtime home at 1715 Summit Ave. The closure came abruptly on Oct. 29, when it announced that day would be its “last day open in Scott’s Addition.”

Reached this week, owner Mike Isley said he couldn’t comment on the future of the brewery, citing a nondisclosure agreement. It’s unclear what that NDA is related to.

Whatever’s next for Isley, it’s likely to happen outside of Scott’s Addition as the brewery’s 4,500-square-foot space already has been leased. That’s according to the building’s owner, Charles Bice, who said Isley’s lease was up and a deal has already been inked with an unidentified tenant to take over the brewery space and a neighboring office building at 1707 Summit Ave.

Legend Brewing files to rezone its Manchester property, but says a move isn’t imminent
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Mike Platania

Despite having no plans to leave its Manchester home, the city’s oldest brewery is looking to reclassify its real estate as it keeps an eye to the future.

Legend Brewing Co. is seeking to rezone its property at 321 W. Seventh St., an effort its VP of operations Dave Gott said is preemptive and does not portend a future sale, move or shuttering of the brewery.

With potential neighborhood-wide rezonings coming to Manchester in the future, Gott said they want to get ahead of that and have some options and control over what could eventually be done on their site.

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