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BizSense Beat: May 3, 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 May 3, 2024:

‘Something transformational’: Henrico homing in on housing affordability gap
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Jonathan Spiers

When Henrico supervisors approved the massive and controversial Arcadia project in Varina, a provision was negotiated that at least 20 of the homes in the residential development would be built for lower-income households.

The housing proffer from developer East West Communities was the first such provision ever included in a zoning case in Henrico, officials said when Arcadia was approved early last year. It was accomplished through a collaboration with the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust, a regional nonprofit that buys and leases home lots to income-qualified buyers to keep the land “permanently affordable.”

While the 20 lots represent less than 3 percent of the nearly 800 homes to be built at Arcadia, administrators with the county and the nonprofit are pointing to the proffer, or something like it, as a potential approach to addressing housing affordability in Henrico and the region.

Henrico yanks funding for Henricus historical site
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Jack Jacobs

A nonprofit dedicated to sharing the history of Henrico’s earliest days will not be getting funding support from the county in the coming fiscal year.

Henricus Historical Park is short roughly a third of its annual operating budget after the Henrico Board of Supervisors approved its fiscal year 2025 spending plan without money earmarked for the riverfront attraction.

The decision came as a surprise to George Drumwright, board chairman of the Henricus Foundation, which runs the 10-acre historical site and its recreated 1600s-era English fort and Powhatan village at 251 Henricus Park Road near Chester.

Drumwright said the group’s $1 million annual budget has for years been covered by a roughly three-way split between funding allocations from Henrico, Chesterfield and the foundation’s own revenues.

Drumwright said in an interview last week that the shortfall, even with the foundation’s reserves, will be challenging to work around.

New pizzeria opening downtown; Pizza Hut planned near VCU
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Mike Platania

Two new pizzerias – one from a local operator and one from a national chain – are heading downtown.

Brick Fire, a new concept from Charred owner Walied Sanie, is preparing to open in the former Maya space at 525 E. Grace St.

Located catty-corner to the Dominion Energy Center, the space came available last fall after Maya, an upscale Mexican restaurant, closed after seven years.

Sanie describes Brick Fire as an Italian-inspired restaurant with pizza, pasta and more on its menu.

Another pizza spot of a rather different style is heading to the VCU area.

Pizza Hut is preparing to open at 771 N. Lombardy St. next to Four Brothers Bistro.

The planned opening is a change of course for the pizza chain, which has spent the last few years shrinking its presence in the region, previously closing locations in South Richmond, Westhampton and the Fan.

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