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BizSense Beat: April 12, 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 April 12, 2024:

‘We have got to get shovels in the ground’: Council plays ball on stadium bond plan
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Jonathan Spiers

Administrators’ pitch to change the city’s approach to financing its massive Diamond District development appeared to land receptively with Richmond City Council on Monday.

Council members expressed support for the plan to have the city issue its own lower-interest revenue bonds to fund the project’s anchor ballpark for the Richmond Flying Squirrels and initial infrastructure improvements. Doing so is expected to save $215 million in debt costs over the previous plan to issue the bonds through a community development authority (CDA).

While the city would be responsible for any downside on the debt under the new plan, councilmembers agreed that the risk is outweighed by the project’s benefits and chances for success, given the parties involved and the momentum of the Scott’s Addition area it’s in.

Signs point to Whole Foods as anchor of tweaked Midlothian Depot project
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Jack Jacobs

More than a year after it secured zoning approval for a grocery-anchored project in Midlothian, an Atlanta-based development firm is seeking Chesterfield County’s approval to tweak the project.

SJC Ventures in recent days filed a new site plan for Midlothian Depot, which would rise on 13 acres at Midlothian Turnpike and Alverser Drive.

While a grocery store remains part of the vision, the new concept features additional non-grocery retail space. It also would nix several hundred apartments that had been planned in favor of townhomes.

Under the new proposal for Midlothian Depot, the mixed-use development would feature a 36,000-square-foot grocery store anchor and another 48,000 square feet of additional retail space spread across four more buildings, according to a site plan dated this month.

KavaClub strikes deal with VDH to begin serving controversial kava drink
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Mike Platania

After more than a year of legal and regulatory wrangling, KavaClub looks to finally be on its way to selling its namesake drink.

The upstart Fan bar and the Virginia Department of Health have agreed to settle a dispute that has prevented the business from fully opening and serving kava, a nonalcoholic drink popular in Polynesia that gives its drinkers feelings of calmness and mild euphoria.

The settlement, filed in Richmond Circuit Court in late March, clears the way for KavaClub to reapply for an operating permit that would allow it to serve the beverage from its storefront at 1529 W. Main St. It would become the only kava bar in Virginia.

Church at Grove and Malvern soliciting interest from developers ahead of move
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Mike Platania

For the first time in nearly 75 years, a West End church is getting ready to go on the move.

Seventh Street Christian Church is preparing to relocate from its longtime home at 4101 Grove Ave. and sell its land.

The church has been at the corner of Grove and Malvern avenues since 1950, though its roots go back much further. It was founded in the 1830s as Sycamore Christian Church and spent decades at the corner of East Grace and North Seventh streets, operating out of a building where a city parking lot is now.

Rev. Hollie Woodruff said the congregation is preparing for the church’s next move, even though they don’t know where they’ll land.

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