The BizSense Crystal Ball: Things to watch in 2019

BizSense doesn’t often publicly make predictions.

But we do cover enough local business news and talk to enough folks in the know to humbly offer up a road map of some of the bigger stories that likely will play out in Richmond in 2019.

Follow along if you dare…

coliseum

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

The Coliseum

The story of the potential redevelopment of the Richmond Coliseum and the surrounding neighborhood was atop this same list last year and surprise, surprise – here it is again. At the rate the political wrangling is going, it’s likely to be on our 2020 list as well.


Commercial real estate brokerages

The landscape of local commercial real estate brokerages seems like the Wild West going into 2019, as brands and brokers were in full flux at year’s end. Things to watch (and keep straight) include the transformation of the local CBRE affiliate into a Colliers corporate division, while CBRE corporate will search for a new foothold and new supporting cast in Richmond. Colliers local is now Harrison & Bates, bringing back a blast from the past. Confused yet? Also keep an eye on the ongoing bankruptcy of MGT Construction, the collapsed construction arm of Thalhimer. That case will continue to ebb and flow in 2019.


intermediate terminal building

The Intermediate Terminal building overlooks the James River and the Virginia Capital Trail. (Mike Platania)

Stone Bistro/Intermediate Terminal

The saga of a vacant, century-old Intermediate Terminal warehouse on the riverfront will continue to be at the center of discussion in 2019. Stone Brewing Co. and the city have been seeking City Council permission to demolish the property at 3103 E. Main St., claiming it’s structurally insufficient for the originally planned conversion of the existing building into a new Stone-branded bistro concept. It’s unclear as of this writing what will happen next.


Baseball stadium

We said this time last year, “The debate over the future of professional baseball in Richmond may well be decided in 2018.” Good thing we included the “may well be” disclaimer, because the future of where professional baseball will be played in Richmond is unknown. State government machinations to free up land in the city for a potential new stadium site took a step in 2018, but it’s unclear where the process goes from here.


A Bird electric scooter parked outside City Hall. (Mike Platania)

Scooters

At least three national dockless scooter and bike startups have Richmond on their radar. The question is whether the city will let them in. Council is scheduled to decide in January.


Zoning

Zoning changes are likely to continue transforming pockets of the region by opening up redevelopment opportunities in several neighborhoods. Scott’s Addition still has room to grow, Henrico County is eyeing more density in the Westwood area and beyond, the city has its sights set on decreasing the number of surface lots downtown, and an expanded historic district in Manchester and Blackwell will keep things moving southward in 2019.


Coworking

How much coworking space can a region like Richmond hold? That experiment likely will continue to play out in 2019, as word on the street is that one of the big, national coworking brands has been sniffing around in the city and other concepts may be popping up in the suburbs.


Malls

As traditional retail continues to find its footing in the age of e-commerce, malls are trying to maintain their place in the world or reinvent themselves for staying power. At least three local malls – Stony Point Fashion Park, Regency Square and Virginia Center Commons – will be interesting to watch in 2019.


City Council member Michael Jones with horses and jockeys at an event celebrating the start of site work for Rosie’s Gaming Emporium. (Jonathan Spiers)

Gambling

With horseracing making a comeback in New Kent County and the Pamunkey Indian Tribe pondering a potential sprawling casino nearby, gambling is perhaps the big-money industry to watch in the new year.


VCU

Virginia Commonwealth University’s appetite for real estate and transforming chunks of the city likely won’t slow down in 2019, as its “One VCU” master plan will continue to be nailed down as a road map for redevelopment opportunities across its campuses.

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