Shockoe Slip Changes Create Buzz, Consternation 

Vernal Coleman

The business turnover continues in Shockoe Slip. Recently moved-in River City Lacrosse Co. is the latest addition to a neighborhood that's seen an exodus of tenants since the economic downturn. And the cavernous building that was home to Richbrau Brewery is being prepared for a new tenant.

Local financial advising company Riverfront Investment Group will move in once the former Richbrau space is fully converted, says Amy de Venoge, a spokeswoman for Secam Properties, the family-owned property management group that owns the building. She says renovations on the top two floors are scheduled for completion in late summer.

Except for La Grotta, which operates out of the basement, the building has been unoccupied since Richbrau's closing left a gaping hole in the neighborhood in February 2010. For 17 years, the Richbrau property boasted one of the Slip's prime pieces of real estate at Cary and Governor streets.

The infusion of new businesses, some say, may only exacerbate some of the other challenges facing Shockoe Slip.

Jerry Cable, owner of the Tobacco Company restaurant and other properties in the Slip, including the building inhabited by Urban Farmhouse Market, says efforts to revitalize the Slip should focus on attracting upscale retail and restaurants. To do that, he says, the neighborhood will need more convenient, safe and low-cost parking.

A recent parking study commissioned by the city concludes that the available parking space in Shockoe Slip is adequate. The study, released in 2009, also recommends that the city install meters to encourage street parking turnover.

But Cable says much of that parking is being taken up by office workers. In addition, the six-story Marriott Hotel project planned at 14th and Cary streets will further drain the parking supply, Cable says. "It'll already cost you $7 to park if you're coming down here to the Slip," Cable says. "It's only going to get worse."

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