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John Baliles, Best New Face in City Government
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Parisienne polycarbonate chair courtesy of La Différence, 2013 winner of Best Modern Furniture in our sister publication R•Home
Best New Building ACAC Short Pump 2201 Old Brick Road, 464-0990 The only problem with ACAC Fitness and Wellness Center's Short Pump location, which opened in December, is that is doesn't have any guest rooms. It has everything else for many hours of escape, though: a rooftop swimming pool, a bar and lounge, squash courts, paddle tennis courts, a yoga studio, a cycle studio, open space for socializing, a two-story "kids zone," a hot tub, an indoor track, a fire pit, and, oh, yeah, exercise equipment. That's what 65,000 square feet gets you. As for our runners-up, the McGlothlin Medical Education Building at Virginia Commonwealth University provides a shiny contrast to the aged and ailing West Hospital. And the Redskins' new modern-looking training outpost rose in the blink of an eye. 2. VCU School of Medicine Education Building 3. Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center
2013 Best & Worst
Best New Store Fresh Market Carytown 10 N. Nansemond St., 355-3190 The conversion of the former Verizon building at Nansemond Street and Ellwood Avenue has resonated with our readers. With its anchor Fresh Market, along with Chipotle, Panera, Petco, and Hand & Stone, Carytown Place has become part of the neighborhood's fabric after developers had a rocky start involving an opposition campaign called "Don't Big Box Carytown." Fresh Market's meat case, weekly specials, rotisserie offerings and almond grinder keep folks coming back. 2. (Tie) Ashby and Fiamour 3. Kroger at Stonebridge Best New Use for an Old Building Casa Del Barco 320 S. 12th St., 775-2628 Restaurateur Kevin Healy says that sometimes you find the right location, and sometimes it finds you. The latter was the case when developer WVS Cos. (the firm that developed Rocketts Landing) approached Healy about moving a restaurant into the old Reynolds Metals Building downtown next to the canal. Drawing inspiration from his two Boathouse restaurants, Healy christened the new upscale Mexican venture Casa Del Barco ("house of the boat," in Spanish), which opened in January. Healy gave designers Helen Reed and The Flores Group permission to "just powerwash it and seal it," he says, allowing exposed wood and brick to create the atmosphere. "Everybody universally loves the space. It just feels good," Healy says. "It really fits our concept, which is to re-imagine traditional Mexican food." Meanwhile, the old John Marshall Hotel opened its doors last year after a full-on makeover, offering swanky apartments and a lush first-floor event space. 2. John Marshall 3. Fresh Market Carytown Best New Face in County Government John Vithoulkas, Henrico County Manager Don't let that baby face fool you. John Vithoulkas may look like he's still cutting teeth, but he's managed in his 16 years with Henrico County to show he's got serious chops when it comes to matters of finance. Few men can go toe to toe with the prickly Brookland District Supervisor Dick Glover and walk away having not only won the argument but also won over Glover. He also bet the Henrico farm — and won — on a bond-restructuring plan that saved the county many of the pains of the 2008 financial crisis. A proud member of the region's politically and socially active Greek community, Vithoulkas was born among the Thousand Islands but talks like a Lakeside native. The 2011 elections in Chesterfield and Henrico delivered a new lineup of faces, notably Tyrone Nelson, whose victory displaced longtime Varina supervisor Jim Donati. 2. (Tie) Steve Elswick from Chesterfield and Tyrone Nelson of Henrico 3. (Tie) Carrie Coyner from Chesterfield and Shannon Taylor of Henrico Best New Face in City Government Jon Baliles, 1st District City Councilman Last November, by the stubble on his chin, Jon Baliles unseated incumbent Councilman Bruce Tyler in the city's 1st District race, but it took more than two months for Tyler to concede the election after disputing the results. Baliles' political pedigree (he's the son of a former governor), his previous positions in two city administrations and his relative youth (42) portend a rising star, but there's work yet to be done. Two other young-ish guns also entered the city political scene last election: 37-year-old Parker Agelasto replaced incumbent Marty Jewel in the 5th District, while North Side resident Jeff Bourne, the mayor's former deputy chief of staff, won the 3rd District seat on the Richmond School Board. 2. Parker Agelasto 3. Jeff Bourne Best New Sports Figure RGIII and the Redskins Perhaps only when you allow for the facts that the Washington NFL squad is Virginia's de facto "home team" and that they now have a practice facility in the city limits do these guys count as "locals." But what are you gonna do? They are indeed new to town. The intensity of fandom over Robert Griffin III has permeated the mid-Atlantic region, even if it couldn't enchant an enclave of city residents still aiming resentment at the Skins' new training facility, which came at the expense of a tree-populated space behind the Science Museum of Virginia. Richmonders also turned their fan goggles toward Griffin's fellow QB, Collegiate graduate Russell Wilson, who led the Seattle Seahawks to the divisional playoffs. And VCU's energetic Melvin Johnson, a rising sophomore, makes choosing your favorite Rams player even harder. 2. Russell Wilson 3. Melvin Johnson Best New Restaurant Heritage 1627 W. Main St., 353-4060 Opening a restaurant is akin to launching a small boat into rough waters. Except in the case of the co-owners of Heritage — chef Joe Sparatta, wife Emilia Sparatta and her brother, Mattias Hägglund — the vessel is manned by a seasoned team with chemistry and chops. Since the dining spot's opening almost a year ago, Heritage has earned wide acclaim: There's Emilia's deft overall management of the house, Mattias' celebrated bar program and Joe's passion for house-made charcuterie with a constantly evolving menu that leans heavily on local ingredients. "It's been amazing," Joe Sparatta says. "We have been received so well by our town. It's like we really hit a sweet spot." Specialty offerings also made a splash on the local dining scene: Rappahannock's oyster menu speaks to a generations-old family trade; and Proper Pie's savory New Zealand pies, as well as traditional sweet pies, now have people lining up in Church Hill regularly. 2. Rappahannock Restaurant 3. Proper Pie Co. Best New Event Carytown Craft Beer Festival We feel ya, Richmond. Your hearts are overflowing with love for all the amber cheer that's readily available these days from local brewers. So it's no wonder that the inaugural Carytown Craft Beer Festival in April was such a hot ticket that organizers estimate they turned away almost as many people as the 3,000 who made it in. "It's an extremely great problem to have for an event in the first year," says Raul Cantu, president of the Carytown Merchants Association. Looking ahead to next year, Cantu says, he hopes the association will not only plan a repeat event, but perhaps even step it up to twice a year. Says Mike Murphy of Three One One Productions, which ran the festival, "I think craft beer and especially Virginia craft beer is not going away." 2. Food truck courts 3. (Tie) Color Me Rad 5K and TEDxRVA Best New Cocktail Program Heritage 1627 W. Main St., 353-4060 Mattias Hägglund's smart and creative cocktails earned him a 2010 mention in The New York Times when he worked at Elements in Princeton, N.J., and that's indirectly what brought him home to Richmond's dining scene. The head bartender and co-owner of Heritage reaches back into vintage mixology guides for some of his recipes, adding contemporary twists here and there. His cocktails are also made to pair with brother-in-law Joe Sparatta's menu. "People will say that wine is at a better alcohol content to work with food, whereas cocktails can be too boozy and overwhelm the food," Hägglund says. But he tempers the booze and opts for distinctive flavors. "It's got to be delicious," he says, adding, "It's a drink. It's supposed to be fun." 2. Saison 3. Toast Best Decision by the 2013 General Assembly Transportation/roads legislation Anyone with a car and a commute can hope that the General Assembly's approval of a $3.4 billion transportation funding bill, signed into law by the governor, actually means less gridlock and fewer teeth-chattering drives to and fro. Meanwhile, that "on my way " text will put you in hotter water than before if the cops witness your one-handed artistry. And, as our survey shows, some people didn't have the slightest problem with the new voting requirements. 2. Increasing penalties for texting while driving 3. Photo ID requirement for voters Best New Business That Puts Richmond on the Map (Tie) Amazon and Hardywood Brewery Almost a year ago, online retailer Amazon doubled down when it opened two fulfillment centers here in Virginia — one in Dinwiddie County and another in Chesterfield County. Together, they employ about 1,500 workers, says a spokeswoman, and the huge facility in Chesterfield's Meadowville complex promises to transform that corner of the county. Hardywood, meanwhile, also has become a darling of the beer-loving public, the region's boosters and even Gov. Bob McDonnell. Despite being a very temporary resident, the Redskins' training center brings more national sports hubbub to town. And HDL, a health management company, and the shirt-making Ledbury, like Hardywood, are poster children for the region's burgeoning crop of entrepreneurs. 2. Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center 3. (Tie) Health Diagnostic Laboratory and Ledbury Best New Suburban Community West Broad Village Even though West Broad Village is smack-dab in the middle of a suburban mecca, a lucky duck or two might be able to live a carless daily schedule where groceries, a huge new gym, dining and retail are all a short walk away — strangely more of an urban lifestyle, in fact. West of Route 288 near the Chesterfield-Powhatan border, Magnolia Green offers rural surroundings on the suburban frontier, with plenty of amenities for families. The Rutland community, a 495-home development north of I-295 in Hanover County, is still barely more than a dream. Houses are under construction on the site of a former plantation, the development's namesake. 2. Magnolia Green 3. Rutland Worst Decision by the 2013 General Assembly Legislation restricting abortion clinics The state's legislators are intent on prolonging the unwinnable abortion battle from session to session. Last year, anti-abortion lawmakers targeted clinics with regulations requiring them to meet some of the same standards as hospitals. The only solace is that Virginia's vaunted officials at least have to rest their vocal cords for several months each year before the shouting resumes. Lawmakers also slapped a tax on hybrid vehicle owners to even the score at the pump; and both parties had a good tussle over a measure requiring voters to show ID at the polls. June's Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act, however, means that Congress may have the last laugh. 2. Tax on hybrid vehicles 3. Photo ID requirement for voters Worst New Television Commercial R.J. Tilley R.J. Tilley's spots may veer toward corny dialogue, but we suggest you try writing a skit that effortlessly incorporates bath and kitchen remodeling into a clever 30-second conversation. Not so simple, eh? Still, anyone can be a critic. When you're trying to move metal, as they say, sometimes goofy is the only way to go, and Auto Connection goes big with goofy. Sheehy Ford's "Mark Down" campaigns (now retired) have given way to a jingle that rekindles memories of KC and the Sunshine Band … only worse. 2. Auto Connection 3. Sheehy Ford Best New Urban Community Church Hill There's "new urbanism," and then there's old urbanism made new. Church Hill is an example of the latter, thanks to a decade-plus influx of people looking for old homes in need of love north of Broad Street. On those coattails has come a bloc of restaurants and a glimmer of retail that portends more to come. Rocketts Landing is no new kid on the block, but it still garners props for transforming an old footprint. West Broad Village fits the bill of new urbanism, but more survey voters still regard it as suburban (see above). 2. Rocketts Landing 3. West Broad Village SHINY AND NEW Our Best & Worst 2013 theme of "what's new" takes on far different shades of meaning depending on the context. Shiny and New at the Mansion: Executive privilege We don't know of any significant other around town — except Gov. Bob McDonnell — who thinks it's OK to have a friend pay for the catering at a daughter's wedding and take your spouse on a New York City shopping spree. Shiny and New Behind the Science Museum: Fever Unchecked Up in a flash, the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center is the fastest of fast-track projects with which the city has been involved, in our opinion. From finding $10 million dollars to bulldozing trees before their time, the city has moved mountains for the burgundy and gold. Now what about that baseball stadium? Throw an acorn to Nutzy before he flies. Shiny and New Bar Tops and Patios: RVA Dining Scene on Fire This spring and summer have brought the openings of Sugar Shack Donuts in Carver, the Viceroy in Devil's Triangle, the Daily in Carytown, Strangeways Brewing in Henrico County, Dinamo on Cary and many others. There is no slowing the pace of Richmond's restaurant and beverage scene. Keep it coming. Shiny and New at Maymont: Born with a Silver Bowl Maymont recently acquired a rare, coin-silver fruit bowl and cover with strawberries on top that was once owned by James and Sallie Dooley. It is on exhibit this summer in the Maymont Mansion dining room. According to family lore, the bowl was initially purchased on Main Street by the parents of James Dooley, John and Sarah Dooley, who became very prosperous hat manufacturers in the decades before the Civil War.