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BizSense Beat: February 9, 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 February 9, 2024:

VUU lands $40M investment, plans up to 200 homes at Brook and Overbrook
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Jonathan Spiers

Less than a month after unveiling a $500 million plan for development of its campus in Richmond’s Northside, Virginia Union University announced the first step it is taking toward implementing that plan over the next 10 years.

During its Founders’ Day festivities on Friday, VUU announced that Steinbridge Group, a Philadelphia-based investment firm, will invest upwards of $40 million in a joint venture with the university to develop up to 200 apartments and potentially some for-sale homes on university-owned land at Brook and Overbrook roads at the campus’s northeast corner.

The development could include some commercial space and would total at least 130 residential units with market-rate and lower-income rents or price points. The housing would be available to the general public, including students and alumni, and would create a new revenue stream for the university, with profits from rents shared between VUU and Steinbridge through the joint venture.

Meals tax law changes get mixed response from legislators
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Jonathan Spiers

Proposed changes to state law to address city tax collection issues like the ones that have been plaguing Richmond restaurant owners received a mixed reaction from Virginia legislators Tuesday.

Two-thirds of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee balked at Senate Bill 294, an amended version of which would allow Richmond and other cities to apply meals tax payments to the tax returns they accompany, rather than to delinquent accounts first as existing law requires.

The bill also would allow city finance directors to waive penalties and interest if it’s determined to be in the locality’s best interest. In Richmond, the accumulation of such fees without notice to the taxpayer has resulted in multiple restaurants receiving tax bills for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars owed.

But senators on the committee questioned whether other cities would have to change their tax collection practices for an issue that apparently has only been a problem in Richmond.

Planning Commission endorses boutique hotel in the fan, new bridge on Arthur Ashe Blvd.
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Mike Platania

It was a busy night for the city’s Planning Commission on Tuesday, as it gave the thumbs-up to everything from a boutique hotel in the Fan, to a new Manchester apartment building, to a bridge replacement project near The Diamond.

The commission voted to recommend approval of special-use permits for a four-story boutique hotel from the owners of Shyndigz that would rise next to the bakery’s new shop at 1904-1912 W. Cary St., as well as a 60-unit mixed-use building at 1401-1407 Hull St. in Manchester

It also heard a pair of rezoning cases for developments in their early stages. Commonwealth Catholic Charities’ request to rezone a 2-acre site at 809 Oliver Hill Way was approved, as was one from local developer WVS Cos. for a 3-acre riverfront site at 4400 E. Main and 4500 Old Main streets. Both CCC and WVS are seeking the TOD-1 Transit-Oriented Nodal District, which allows for up to 12 stories and a mix of uses.

Also on the agenda was a vote to authorize the city to accept $4 million from CSX Transportation to help replace the bridge along North Arthur Ashe Boulevard that crosses the train tracks near The Diamond.

Developer sues Hanover supervisors over apartment project denial
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Jonathan Spiers

Hanover supervisors’ rejection of what would have been the county’s first 55-and-up rental community has drawn legal action from the project’s developer.

Larry Shaia and project collaborator Jesse Lennon filed a lawsuit challenging the board’s 4-3 decision in November denying their proposed Summerlyn project, a $27 million development that would have added 97 age-restricted units beside Shaia’s Cambridge Square Apartments at 7147 Mechanicsville Turnpike.

The complaint for declaratory judgment argues that supervisors who voted against the apartments erred in calculating the project’s allowable density based on net acreage. Such a calculation would restrict the number of units to 81 due to protected wetlands on the property.

Henrico eyeing new $4M bike and pedestrian path on Libbie Ave.
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Jack Jacobs

Henrico officials have a plan in the works to add new pedestrian and bike access alongside the Libbie Mill-Midtown development.

Design work is underway on a proposed $4.1 million project to add a 10-foot-wide shared-use path that would connect to a new two-way bike lane on the section of Libbie Avenue between Broad Street and Bethlehem Road.

The shared-use path would be constructed on Libbie between its intersection with Broad and North Crestwood Avenue. It would replace the existing sidewalk that’s there currently. The bike lane would be established on Libbie between North Crestwood and Bethlehem.

The new path and lane would be situated on the east side of Libbie Avenue where they would run alongside the mixed-use Libbie Mill, developed by Gumenick Properties.

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