With the Feb. 12 cutting of the ceremonial ribbon for the Hilton Garden Inn Richmond Downtown ( 501 E. Broad St., 344-4300 ) by Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, Miller & Rhoads is back in business, in a way, nearly two decades after its 1990 closing. The 250-room hotel is part of a larger complex created out of the shell of the beloved, defunct department store.
The building will also house 133 condominiums and 21,000 square feet of street-level retail space, which is available now for lease, according to Susan Jones, senior vice president of commercial real-estate firm Grubb & Ellis' Richmond branch. The hotel, open now, has a 6,000-square-foot reception space and a Great American Grill restaurant; rooms go for $89 to $199 a night.
The long-awaited Miller & Rhoads renovation, which started two years ago, is an important piece of downtown's revitalization, city officials have noted; it stands close to the CenterStage property, as well as the Richmond Convention Center, which likely will benefit from having another hotel nearby.
Dining is a major draw for downtown residents, and the city's restaurants are taking part in Broad Appetit in its second year on Broad Street east of Belvedere.
Described as "a smorgasbord in the streets" by Echelon Event Management's Tracey Leverty, one of the team of organizers (Richmond magazine included), the festival will take place on June 7. This year, double the number of chefs — 50 local restaurant crews from Comfort to Mosaic — are scheduled to cook a variety of dishes; regional growers will be on hand; and the stage will feature cooking demonstrations instead of musical entertainment this year. Broad Street art galleries will be open.
"Last year, we found that people really came for the food," Leverty says. A hungry crowd of 15,000 to 20,000 people is predicted this year, up from 7,500 folks who showed up despite heavy rain in 2008.
In real-estate news, both the Reserve and Vistas on the James condominiums were included in a December 2008 list of "Top Ten New Condominium Projects" in the city of Richmond compiled by Integra Realty Resources.
The 166 Vistas on the James condominiums, first offered in 2007, are now sold out, as of last December. According to Claude Davenport of Shockoe Commercial Properties, the riverside complex will only offer resale from now on.
The Reserve condominiums are still selling, however. Although the warehouse-style units in phase one sold out in 2007, some of the 16 phase-two units still remain for sale. These condos have a contemporary feel, according to Rick Jarvis, head of project sales with One South Realty.
Jarvis says that few condominiums are being constructed now because of the economy. However, people do continue to purchase downtown condos, particularly as a downsizing move from larger suburban houses. "I am a lifelong Richmonder," Jarvis says. "I have never seen such a healthy downtown market."
Expected to bring in a crowd is the long-awaited CenterStage performing-arts center, at the site of the old Carpenter Center. The grand opening is on schedule and on budget
for the weekend of Sept. 10-13, according to Capital Results' Jay Smith, spokesperson for the center. Information on the artists scheduled to perform for the grand-opening weekend had not yet been released as of our print deadline, but Smith says that the acts will represent the Richmond area, showcasing local performing-arts talent.
The new venue will include a revamped Carpenter Theatre, designed to look like the original while implementing new technology and more practical space for both performers and audience, including a backstage corridor for performers. "One of the most interesting aspects of the project has been the research on the Carpenter Theatre of what it looked like originally," Smith says.
The center will also feature an additional wing, Dorothy Pauley Square, which will include a smaller 200-seat theater,
a multipurpose performance space and a gallery. These spaces will host performances by resident companies such as the Richmond Ballet and Richmond Symphony, as well as artists and performers worldwide. "It's not just a venue for Richmond, but for all of Central Virginia," Smith says.
To address concerns about parking, CenterStage has worked with the Broad Street Community Development Association (CDA) to manage the occasional challenges of finding a space in the busy downtown area. In early February, CenterStage acquired access to the 218-space CDA parking lot and garage across Grace Street from the center.