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BizSense Beat: April 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 April 26, 2024:

Assessing assessments: How some city property owners question valuations amid rising prices
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Mike Platania

In 2008, veteran local real estate developer Charles Macfarlane struck a deal with the City of Richmond to buy the former Manchester Post Office at 1019 Hull St.

The agreement called for Macfarlane to convert the decommissioned postal building into office space.The deal also included covenants that Macfarlane wouldn’t raze the century-old building.

All went as planned. Macfarlane paid the city $200,000 for the property and the building has since been transformed into office space, with transportation software company Iteris its latest tenant.

But in recent years Macfarlane has grown increasingly frustrated when his real estate tax bills arrive and he sees that the city has assessed the old post office, along with his other historic-preservation properties, at rates that, he says, don’t take into account the special deed restrictions they’re subject to.

Last year the city assessed the Hull Street property’s 0.4-acre plot at $701,000, or $39.63 per square foot. That equates to a tax bill of $14,400.

Macfarlane is particularly frustrated that the city appears to be valuing the land upon which the building sits in line with neighboring properties that are ripe for sizable redevelopments in a neighborhood that’s become a development hotbed.

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