Editor’s Picks: BizSense’s best of 2017

The end of 2017 marks the completion of Richmond BizSense’s 10th year in business.

It’s a milestone, to say the least, and we’ve come a long way since Aaron Kremer started the site on Jan. 1, 2008, as a one-man shop built on the idea that there was room in Richmond for nitty gritty business news delivered in a new way.

A decade later, his hunch has been proven right and we’re proud to have become Richmond’s go-to business journal. Ten years in, scooping the competition never gets old and we have no plans to lose our scrappy nature. We hope that continues to show in our work.

A huge thanks to our loyal audience, our long list of supportive advertisers and sponsors and a shout out to our dogged crew of news hounds, who hustle hard to feed the beast that is the daily deadline.

Now, back to the news.

We present to you a list of what we think is the cream of our crop from 2017. These are our biggest scoops, best reporting, best writing, catchiest headlines and quirkiest topics of the year, whittled down from the nearly 1,000 news stories we churned out in the last 12 months.

Enjoy, keep the news tips flowing in 2018 and here’s to another decade of great Richmond business news…

Plug pulled on Ashland outlet mall

In our biggest retail scoop of the year, we got word that the long-planned Outlets of Richmond in Ashland would not come to fruition. It was an abrupt, but not so surprising end to a development that had been touted since at least 2009.

Amazon to open new operation in Ashland

Years ago we landed the scoop that Amazon was looking to build a massive fulfillment center in Chesterfield. We did it again this year, as we learned of a new facility the e-commerce giant was working on in Ashland.

Paper Moon

The building at 3300 Norfolk St. houses Paper Moon Gentlemen’s Club.
(Kieran McQuilkin)

Strip club owner drops dollars in Scott’s Addition

Who would have thought that our diligent combing of local property records would lead us into Richmond’s strip club industry?

A string of deals helped us see that the elusive king of local gentlemen’s clubs was further fortifying his holdings.

Owens & Minor to fill space in Riverfront Plaza

It’s fun to get the jump on the governor’s office and economic development types as they secretly work their deals to lure companies to Richmond. We did it twice this year, first when Mechanicsville-based Owens & Minor decided to bring hundreds of jobs downtown. The second time came seven months later, when Thomson Reuters struck a deal for a new office downtown.

Moving to Richmond: Anatomy of the corporate relocation

Those types of big economic development deals led us to start asking the question: what does it take logistically for a big company like that to move to downtown Richmond. The resulting story gave a glimpse at the behind-the-scenes planning involved in moving all those people.

Chinese investors to take over Richmond startup

Sometimes landing the story requires translating complex documents. In this case, it took literal translation, after we found a Chinese regulatory filing that showed Evatran, a highly touted local startup, was in the midst of being taken over by one of its investors. There will be more to this story in the coming weeks.

coliseum-aerial

A 7-acre plot houses the city-owned Coliseum. (Kieran McQuilkin)

New arena in the works to replace Coliseum

We rarely hinge stories on anonymous sources, but this one was worth it. A month’s worth of digging and a couple lucky breaks helped us uncover a plan being floated by some local heavy hitters to scrap the Richmond Coliseum, build a new arena and revive the surrounding neighborhood. Minor league hockey fans rejoice.

Code-named project eyes 1M-square-foot data center in Henrico

Project Echo was the name listed on plans quietly filed in Henrico County for a massive data center development. BizSense was the first to report about the code-named deal, as word came in from sources that Facebook was behind it all. It turned out we were on the right track.

A daffy idea: Local family hatches duck egg startup

A fun headline and great first paragraph did their job in drawing readers into this quirky startup story about a local family trying to hatch a commercial duck egg company out of Sandston with national reach.

‘The worst it has ever been’: Developers face permit delays as city tries to meet demand

Real estate news is our bread and butter and this story is about as close as you can get to true public service journalism for the development crowd. After hearing regular griping about the delays out of the city’s permit department, we went in, asked some tough questions and found some sources brave enough to put their name on it. And as good reporting should, the story helped prompt changes at City Hall.

Stuck overseas, Jackson Ward bakery owner forced to close business

Our most read story of the year and maybe of all time followed the plight of a Jackson Ward bakery that was forced to close its doors after its owner says she was denied re-entry to the U.S. because of visa issues. It took building trust with the frustrated baker to land the story and resulted in responses that included a local congressman inquiring how he might help. The follow-up story turned out to be just as interesting.

richbrau beers

Four beers that will be poured at Richbrau’s future tasting room. (J. Elias O’Neal)

Richbrau revival: Long-gone brewery pioneer makes a comeback

The most fascinating Richmond brewery story of the year resulted from a curious local real estate broker who did some digging and found out the trademark for the defunct Richbrau brand was just floating around up for grabs. He jumped on it, reviving the name that spilled into bankruptcy just before the local brewery craze took hold.

There will be another round for this story in 2018.

Left in limbo by Justin French, Redskins legend completes Grace St. rehab

What more could you ask for in a business news story? This one tackled the collision of Redskins legend Darrell Green with Justin French, perhaps the most notorious of Richmond real estate developers. In the end, Green, known as one of the fastest men to ever grace the NFL, managed to outrun the French fallout and add another little gem to an ever-evolving stretch of Grace Street downtown.

Circuit City bankruptcy: 9 years and counting

Speaking of 10th anniversaries, we realized that the bankruptcy case of collapsed electronics retail giant Circuit City was alive and well and entering its tenth year. The company’s thousands of creditors won’t end up totally screwed in the end – and the hundreds of lawyers that have worked the case over the years haven’t done too bad either.

The end of 2017 marks the completion of Richmond BizSense’s 10th year in business.

It’s a milestone, to say the least, and we’ve come a long way since Aaron Kremer started the site on Jan. 1, 2008, as a one-man shop built on the idea that there was room in Richmond for nitty gritty business news delivered in a new way.

A decade later, his hunch has been proven right and we’re proud to have become Richmond’s go-to business journal. Ten years in, scooping the competition never gets old and we have no plans to lose our scrappy nature. We hope that continues to show in our work.

A huge thanks to our loyal audience, our long list of supportive advertisers and sponsors and a shout out to our dogged crew of news hounds, who hustle hard to feed the beast that is the daily deadline.

Now, back to the news.

We present to you a list of what we think is the cream of our crop from 2017. These are our biggest scoops, best reporting, best writing, catchiest headlines and quirkiest topics of the year, whittled down from the nearly 1,000 news stories we churned out in the last 12 months.

Enjoy, keep the news tips flowing in 2018 and here’s to another decade of great Richmond business news…

Plug pulled on Ashland outlet mall

In our biggest retail scoop of the year, we got word that the long-planned Outlets of Richmond in Ashland would not come to fruition. It was an abrupt, but not so surprising end to a development that had been touted since at least 2009.

Amazon to open new operation in Ashland

Years ago we landed the scoop that Amazon was looking to build a massive fulfillment center in Chesterfield. We did it again this year, as we learned of a new facility the e-commerce giant was working on in Ashland.

Paper Moon

The building at 3300 Norfolk St. houses Paper Moon Gentlemen’s Club.
(Kieran McQuilkin)

Strip club owner drops dollars in Scott’s Addition

Who would have thought that our diligent combing of local property records would lead us into Richmond’s strip club industry?

A string of deals helped us see that the elusive king of local gentlemen’s clubs was further fortifying his holdings.

Owens & Minor to fill space in Riverfront Plaza

It’s fun to get the jump on the governor’s office and economic development types as they secretly work their deals to lure companies to Richmond. We did it twice this year, first when Mechanicsville-based Owens & Minor decided to bring hundreds of jobs downtown. The second time came seven months later, when Thomson Reuters struck a deal for a new office downtown.

Moving to Richmond: Anatomy of the corporate relocation

Those types of big economic development deals led us to start asking the question: what does it take logistically for a big company like that to move to downtown Richmond. The resulting story gave a glimpse at the behind-the-scenes planning involved in moving all those people.

Chinese investors to take over Richmond startup

Sometimes landing the story requires translating complex documents. In this case, it took literal translation, after we found a Chinese regulatory filing that showed Evatran, a highly touted local startup, was in the midst of being taken over by one of its investors. There will be more to this story in the coming weeks.

coliseum-aerial

A 7-acre plot houses the city-owned Coliseum. (Kieran McQuilkin)

New arena in the works to replace Coliseum

We rarely hinge stories on anonymous sources, but this one was worth it. A month’s worth of digging and a couple lucky breaks helped us uncover a plan being floated by some local heavy hitters to scrap the Richmond Coliseum, build a new arena and revive the surrounding neighborhood. Minor league hockey fans rejoice.

Code-named project eyes 1M-square-foot data center in Henrico

Project Echo was the name listed on plans quietly filed in Henrico County for a massive data center development. BizSense was the first to report about the code-named deal, as word came in from sources that Facebook was behind it all. It turned out we were on the right track.

A daffy idea: Local family hatches duck egg startup

A fun headline and great first paragraph did their job in drawing readers into this quirky startup story about a local family trying to hatch a commercial duck egg company out of Sandston with national reach.

‘The worst it has ever been’: Developers face permit delays as city tries to meet demand

Real estate news is our bread and butter and this story is about as close as you can get to true public service journalism for the development crowd. After hearing regular griping about the delays out of the city’s permit department, we went in, asked some tough questions and found some sources brave enough to put their name on it. And as good reporting should, the story helped prompt changes at City Hall.

Stuck overseas, Jackson Ward bakery owner forced to close business

Our most read story of the year and maybe of all time followed the plight of a Jackson Ward bakery that was forced to close its doors after its owner says she was denied re-entry to the U.S. because of visa issues. It took building trust with the frustrated baker to land the story and resulted in responses that included a local congressman inquiring how he might help. The follow-up story turned out to be just as interesting.

richbrau beers

Four beers that will be poured at Richbrau’s future tasting room. (J. Elias O’Neal)

Richbrau revival: Long-gone brewery pioneer makes a comeback

The most fascinating Richmond brewery story of the year resulted from a curious local real estate broker who did some digging and found out the trademark for the defunct Richbrau brand was just floating around up for grabs. He jumped on it, reviving the name that spilled into bankruptcy just before the local brewery craze took hold.

There will be another round for this story in 2018.

Left in limbo by Justin French, Redskins legend completes Grace St. rehab

What more could you ask for in a business news story? This one tackled the collision of Redskins legend Darrell Green with Justin French, perhaps the most notorious of Richmond real estate developers. In the end, Green, known as one of the fastest men to ever grace the NFL, managed to outrun the French fallout and add another little gem to an ever-evolving stretch of Grace Street downtown.

Circuit City bankruptcy: 9 years and counting

Speaking of 10th anniversaries, we realized that the bankruptcy case of collapsed electronics retail giant Circuit City was alive and well and entering its tenth year. The company’s thousands of creditors won’t end up totally screwed in the end – and the hundreds of lawyers that have worked the case over the years haven’t done too bad either.

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