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BizSense Beat: Jan. 26, 2024

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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 Jan. 26, 2024:

VCU, Wilder School trade jabs over ‘skewed’ poll of failed downtown development deal
Reported by Richmond BizSense’s Jonathan Spiers

The saga surrounding VCU Health’s costly exit from an ill-fated downtown development project continued this week, with Virginia Commonwealth University scrutinizing the results of a public opinion poll conducted by one of its own schools.

The university on Monday released a statement taking issue with the findings and methodology of the latest Commonwealth Poll, conducted by VCU’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, that included questions about the health system’s handling of the so-called Clay Street project — an aborted redevelopment of Richmond’s old Public Safety Building site.

The statewide poll — one of several that the Wilder School conducts annually on a variety of topics — found that 92% of respondents familiar with the issue agreed that VCU Health’s Board of Directors “should be responsible for explaining more details about the deal to Virginia taxpayers,” according to a release accompanying the poll’s findings.

Elephant Insurance downsizes to smaller Henrico HQ
Reported by Richmond BizSense’s Jonathan Spiers

Continuing a shift to remote and hybrid work that it started pre-pandemic, Henrico-based Elephant Insurance has reduced its local office footprint and found new stomping grounds in the county.

The auto insurer is moving its headquarters from the Allianz-anchored Deep Run I building near Innsbrook to Park Central, an office park along East Parham Road just east of the planned GreenCity development

The company is leasing 16,000 square feet in the Park Central V building at 8801 Park Central Dr. It moved in over a month ago and is holding a grand opening this week.

The new space is considerably smaller than the 76,000 square feet it subleased from Allianz on the third and fourth floors of Deep Run I, part of the former Circuit City headquarters campus off Mayland Drive. It had been in that space for about a decade.

‘You can almost feel the energy’: Riverfront Amphitheater project breaks ground
Reported by Richmond BizSense’s Jonathan Spiers

With a new name and site work already underway, the highly anticipated amphitheater at Richmond’s downtown riverfront is now officially under construction.

Developers of the now-named Riverfront Amphitheater gathered with a crowd of city leaders and supporters Wednesday morning for a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off construction of the $30 million venue on the Tredegar hillside.

Speakers included Coran Capshaw, the Dave Matthews Band manager and music industry executive whose Charlottesville-based Red Light Ventures is developing the 7,500-capacity amphitheater.

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