Things to watch in 2016

Work is ongoing at the Central National Bank redevelopment.

Work is ongoing at the Central National Bank redevelopment.

Reflecting on the past year is fruitful, but trying to predict the future is more fun.

Here are the ongoing stories and trends that the tireless BizSense reporting staff has their eyes on going into 2016.

Central National Bank
Few projects have a greater potential to transform an entire neighborhood than the old Central National Bank building at 219 E. Broad St. That potential is not only in the 200-plus apartments being installed in the long-dormant building by owner Douglas Development, but from the numerous properties surrounding the 23-story tower that Douglas also owns. The Washington, D.C.-based firm controls a cluster of at least 12 properties around CNB and is known for having relationships with national tenants. Will big names arrive on that stretch of Broad? Will rents go up? What will the neighborhood look like a year from now?

Breweries

Tarpey Durrance Michelow

From left: Matt Tarpey, Dustin Durrance and Dave Michelow are bringing The Veil Brewing Co. in Scott’s Addition.

Richmond is now home to about a dozen breweries and more are in the works. The question is often asked, how many can the local market support? How many are too many? Does the thrill factor for imbibers wear off when there’s a brewery on every corner? Or does the brewery industry have the ability to weather a frothy market? What does it all mean for restaurants and other bars? And what is the path of future growth for these breweries? There are plenty of beers from far off places found in Richmond. Will we someday see Richmond beers on tap on the West Coast?

Regency Square
The 40-year-old Regency Square mall in Henrico County is under new ownership and in the hands of two companies known for doing all sorts of developments. They’ve been quiet about what changes they plan to bring to the mall since purchasing it earlier this year, so it should be interesting to see how the property evolves and attempts to find its place in the more modern retail market, dominated largely by the trend toward outdoor malls.

Mergers and acquisitions

MeadWestvaco merged with Rock-Tenn Co. earlier this year.

MeadWestvaco merged with Rock-Tenn Co. earlier this year.

It seems like every big corporation on the planet is weighing a big merger. There’s Dow and DuPont, Staples and Office Depot, Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller, and others. Will the huge corporate M&A bug spread to Richmond? The trend already touched us in 2015 when MeadWestvaco struck a deal with Rock-Tenn Co. to become WestRock. Who’s next?

VCU basketball
With Shaka Smart wrangling in the Longhorns down in Texas, much of the future of the valuable VCU/Rams/Havoc brand now rests on the shoulders of Will Wade. With his team off to so-so start, what does that mean for the big business of VCU basketball if Wade can’t match Smart’s winning ways? Or is the legacy of success embedded enough to leave lasting effects? Only March Madness can answer these questions.

Grocery wars
Wegmans, Whole Foods, Kroger, Walmart and German chains Aldi and Lidl are further expanding into an already crowded Richmond grocery market. Just how much food can we all consume? Isn’t this supposed to be a restaurant town?

Richmond’s next Fortune 1000?
If Barry Matherly gets his way, the Richmond region will get another Fortune 1000 company to locate its headquarters here – and it could end up happening by the end of next year. The new CEO of economic development group Greater Richmond Partnership has said the time is right and that effort has progressed over the past six months. The partnership has University of Richmond helping it crunch the numbers and has recruited local executives to help reach out to candidates. But Matherly stopped short of making any predictions for 2016.

Office space
A big chunk of the downtown office market is set to change hands in several large deals. Riverfront Plaza and Gateway Plaza have already sold, and the Bank of America Center and Williams Mullen Center are next. They all have vacancies to fill, so the thing to watch in 2016 is how these new owners treat the properties. Will they make upgrades to lure new tenants? And what will happen with downtown leasing rates? How will traditional office buildings downtown and in the suburbs be affected long-term by the trend of companies wanting so-called “creative office space” in hip neighborhoods like Manchester or Scott’s Addition?

Hot neighborhoods
Scott’s Addition and Manchester have been magnets over the last several years. Both neighborhoods have residents and some commercial businesses. So what’s next? Will Manchester finally have its retail boom? How many breweries and apartments can fit into Scott’s Addition? What does each neighborhood need to truly become a neighborhood?

The Boulevard

A Car Pool car wash on North Boulevard was closed as its property sold.

A Car Pool car wash on North Boulevard was closed as its property sold.

Finally, the topic that ties together politics, culture and development unlike any other Richmond: the ballpark debate and whether baseball will stay on the Boulevard. The public will have a say, the topic will surely play into the mayoral race this year and some developers will eventually be crowned the winner. Is a ballpark-anchored mixed-use development the answer? If so, will the Diamond remain or be bulldozed? Will certain power players wield their influence and get a children’s hospital plan for the Boulevard pushed to the finish line? Will the Squirrels just get fed up and skip town?

In the meantime, plenty of savvy investors have already made incremental moves along Boulevard, putting themselves in position to have a stake regardless of the outcome of the baseball debate. As local businessman Ed Lacy put it earlier this month upon purchasing the Car Pool car wash property: “The big payoff will come years down the road.”

Work is ongoing at the Central National Bank redevelopment.

Work is ongoing at the Central National Bank redevelopment.

Reflecting on the past year is fruitful, but trying to predict the future is more fun.

Here are the ongoing stories and trends that the tireless BizSense reporting staff has their eyes on going into 2016.

Central National Bank
Few projects have a greater potential to transform an entire neighborhood than the old Central National Bank building at 219 E. Broad St. That potential is not only in the 200-plus apartments being installed in the long-dormant building by owner Douglas Development, but from the numerous properties surrounding the 23-story tower that Douglas also owns. The Washington, D.C.-based firm controls a cluster of at least 12 properties around CNB and is known for having relationships with national tenants. Will big names arrive on that stretch of Broad? Will rents go up? What will the neighborhood look like a year from now?

Breweries

Tarpey Durrance Michelow

From left: Matt Tarpey, Dustin Durrance and Dave Michelow are bringing The Veil Brewing Co. in Scott’s Addition.

Richmond is now home to about a dozen breweries and more are in the works. The question is often asked, how many can the local market support? How many are too many? Does the thrill factor for imbibers wear off when there’s a brewery on every corner? Or does the brewery industry have the ability to weather a frothy market? What does it all mean for restaurants and other bars? And what is the path of future growth for these breweries? There are plenty of beers from far off places found in Richmond. Will we someday see Richmond beers on tap on the West Coast?

Regency Square
The 40-year-old Regency Square mall in Henrico County is under new ownership and in the hands of two companies known for doing all sorts of developments. They’ve been quiet about what changes they plan to bring to the mall since purchasing it earlier this year, so it should be interesting to see how the property evolves and attempts to find its place in the more modern retail market, dominated largely by the trend toward outdoor malls.

Mergers and acquisitions

MeadWestvaco merged with Rock-Tenn Co. earlier this year.

MeadWestvaco merged with Rock-Tenn Co. earlier this year.

It seems like every big corporation on the planet is weighing a big merger. There’s Dow and DuPont, Staples and Office Depot, Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller, and others. Will the huge corporate M&A bug spread to Richmond? The trend already touched us in 2015 when MeadWestvaco struck a deal with Rock-Tenn Co. to become WestRock. Who’s next?

VCU basketball
With Shaka Smart wrangling in the Longhorns down in Texas, much of the future of the valuable VCU/Rams/Havoc brand now rests on the shoulders of Will Wade. With his team off to so-so start, what does that mean for the big business of VCU basketball if Wade can’t match Smart’s winning ways? Or is the legacy of success embedded enough to leave lasting effects? Only March Madness can answer these questions.

Grocery wars
Wegmans, Whole Foods, Kroger, Walmart and German chains Aldi and Lidl are further expanding into an already crowded Richmond grocery market. Just how much food can we all consume? Isn’t this supposed to be a restaurant town?

Richmond’s next Fortune 1000?
If Barry Matherly gets his way, the Richmond region will get another Fortune 1000 company to locate its headquarters here – and it could end up happening by the end of next year. The new CEO of economic development group Greater Richmond Partnership has said the time is right and that effort has progressed over the past six months. The partnership has University of Richmond helping it crunch the numbers and has recruited local executives to help reach out to candidates. But Matherly stopped short of making any predictions for 2016.

Office space
A big chunk of the downtown office market is set to change hands in several large deals. Riverfront Plaza and Gateway Plaza have already sold, and the Bank of America Center and Williams Mullen Center are next. They all have vacancies to fill, so the thing to watch in 2016 is how these new owners treat the properties. Will they make upgrades to lure new tenants? And what will happen with downtown leasing rates? How will traditional office buildings downtown and in the suburbs be affected long-term by the trend of companies wanting so-called “creative office space” in hip neighborhoods like Manchester or Scott’s Addition?

Hot neighborhoods
Scott’s Addition and Manchester have been magnets over the last several years. Both neighborhoods have residents and some commercial businesses. So what’s next? Will Manchester finally have its retail boom? How many breweries and apartments can fit into Scott’s Addition? What does each neighborhood need to truly become a neighborhood?

The Boulevard

A Car Pool car wash on North Boulevard was closed as its property sold.

A Car Pool car wash on North Boulevard was closed as its property sold.

Finally, the topic that ties together politics, culture and development unlike any other Richmond: the ballpark debate and whether baseball will stay on the Boulevard. The public will have a say, the topic will surely play into the mayoral race this year and some developers will eventually be crowned the winner. Is a ballpark-anchored mixed-use development the answer? If so, will the Diamond remain or be bulldozed? Will certain power players wield their influence and get a children’s hospital plan for the Boulevard pushed to the finish line? Will the Squirrels just get fed up and skip town?

In the meantime, plenty of savvy investors have already made incremental moves along Boulevard, putting themselves in position to have a stake regardless of the outcome of the baseball debate. As local businessman Ed Lacy put it earlier this month upon purchasing the Car Pool car wash property: “The big payoff will come years down the road.”

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Kory Mohr
Kory Mohr
6 years ago

Indeed, the brewery bubble is often an interesting discussion/debate. I think we’re still pretty far from seeing it burst in RVA so long as the current and upcoming breweries continue to innovate and diversify. We actually have 27 current and upcoming breweries throughout the RVA metro area within the Cheers VA directory. http://www.cheersva.org/directory/categories/richmond-metro-breweries

Definitely going to be an interesting and exciting 2016!

Cheers!

– Kory