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BizSense Beat: March 22, 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 March 22, 2024:

200 acres in Chesterfield set for new mixed-use development
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Jack Jacobs

Decades after buying a sizable assemblage at a prime Chesterfield crossroads, local developer Ed Nunnally is moving forward on the mixed-use development he has long envisioned for the land.

Nunnally’s EWN Investments and Henrico-based private equity and development firm Markel | Eagle are in the early stages of planning a large project that would rise on 200 acres at the intersection of Hull Street and Otterdale roads in western Chesterfield.

The project, dubbed Nunnally Village, would take a page from Markel | Eagle’s GreenGate center in Short Pump, and is expected to feature multiple grocery stores and other retailers, restaurants with an emphasis on locally owned brands, office space, and residences.

Local agents brace for effects of national Realtor group’s lawsuit settlement
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Jonathan Spiers

The apparent resolution of a yearslong legal battle that’s rocked the U.S. residential real estate industry is expected to have impacts on agents in metro Richmond, though to what extent remains to be seen, local observers say.

The National Association of Realtors announced Friday it had reached a $418 million settlement of claims brought by a group of home sellers in Missouri who argued that commissions for member agents had been artificially inflated.

The settlement, which is subject to court approval, includes an agreement by NAR to change its rules on how brokers are compensated. The change is expected to affect the traditional 6 percent commission that is typically paid by the home seller and shared between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent.

Employees unionize at Shelf Life Books in Carytown
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Jack Jacobs

After an ownership change and rebrand in recent years, a long-running local bookstore is embarking on yet another new chapter – as a unionized workplace.

The five employees at Carytown’s Shelf Life Books, formerly known as Chop Suey Books, have formed a union. They hope to kick off contract negotiations with the store’s owners in the coming days, according to Shelf Life employee Athena Palmer.

The store’s workers hope that by unionizing, they’ll strengthen the business and secure their employment amid wider trends in the bookseller industry, Palmer said.

VCU planning new dorm with up to 1,250 beds on West Grace
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Jack Jacobs

VCU is looking to continue to transform West Grace Street.

The university is currently in the early stages of planning a new dormitory of 1,000-1,250 beds that would rise at 700 W. Grace St., according to university spokesman Mike Porter.

The VCU Board of Visitors is expected this week to approve the addition of the project to the university’s six-year capital plan. If the project, identified as the West Grace Street Housing Project, is made part of VCU’s facilities plan, the university will then issue a request for proposals for the development. After the RFP solicitation, a finalized project scope and cost will be considered by the board, which would vote to authorize the project’s construction.

Fan restaurant’s frozen pizza spinoff heats up
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Mike Platania

What started as a spinoff for a Fan pizzeria is now set to be delivered far beyond the Richmond city limits.

Udderless Pizza, run by The Hop Craft Pizza & Beer owner Evan Byrne, recently signed a deal with specialty food distributor P10 Foods to distribute its locally made, frozen vegan pizzas throughout the Southeast.

Byrne spun up Udderless last year after a supply chain hiccup forced him to develop his own cashew-based vegan cheese to use on The Hop’s pizzas. Byrne liked his version of vegan cheese so much that he and The Hop operations manager Andrew McQuillen began par-baking vegan pies and selling them under the Udderless brand to local markets like Good Foods Grocery, Stella’s Grocery and Ellwood Thompson’s.

They’re now preparing to ship pizzas from Florida to Mississippi to Tennessee through the deal with P10 Foods.

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