Condos and a chain restaurant heading for Shockoe Bottom? … 

Street Talk

Condos Coming To The BottomCity Police Pick Their Own TitlesJuly 4 Brings the Dog Gone Days of SummerRichmond Visits Redmond For a Chat with MicrosoftChurch Hosts Traffic TalksSome Like It, Hot TalkWho Wants to Be a Brainiac?

Condos Coming To The Bottom

It could have been called "Ukrop's Place."

But "Canal Walk Plaza" suits Lou Salomonsky just fine.

The Richmond architect-developer last month outbid local supermarket mogul Jim Ukrop for nearly $3 million in old Philip Morris properties and parking lots in Shockoe Bottom. Salomonsky says he'll turn the former tobacco warehouses into luxury apartments, offices and - believed to be a first in the Bottom - condominiums.

Salomonsky says he's even got a national chain restaurant interested in opening at the site bounded by 19th, 20th, Main and Cary streets. He estimates he'll spend about $30 million for a historically minded renovation of five buildings totaling about 275,000 square-feet - not to mention fixing up two blocks' worth of parking.

Salomonsky says construction will start in January and take 30 months. He plans for luxury condos in a seven-story, towerlike building at the site. In others buildings: offices and 90 apartments renting for $1,000 a month and up. The restaurant, which he declined to identify, would go at 19th and Main streets, he says.

Jeff Cooke, senior vice president at Morton G. Thalhimer that represented Philip Morris in the sale expected to close Aug. 10, says Salomonsky outbid a Ukrop representative and a D.C. developer. The property, assessed at $2.4 million, went for nearly $3 million, he and Salomonsky say. Ukrop, who confirmed his interest in the Philip Morris property, was represented by Richmond architect-developer Bob Englander.

"The confidence and the momentum is there for turning the village of Shockoe [around]," Salomonsky says. "It's becoming an interesting neighborhood."

He, Ukrop-Englander and Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises have been actively acquiring and renovating Shockoe Bottom and Canal Walk area properties in recent years.

Rob Morano

City Police Pick Their Own Titles

e may have missed out on the State Police superintendent gig, but Richmond Police Chief Jerry Oliver still has enormous opportunities.

Make that Enormous Opportunities - as in, Chief of Enormous Opportunities, his new title at the city police department.

Maybe you thought employees at Internet start-ups and creative marketing agencies still were the only ones making up their titles. Think again - and hard, because you're going to have a tough time beating some of these: Capt. Frank Monahan is Sultan of Solutions. Maj. David McCoy is Creator of Credibility. And Det. Harvey Powers is Net-to-Neighbor Navigator (he manages the department's Web site).

Chief Energizing! Officer (and Director of Media Relations) Cynthia Price says everyone from top brass on down started honing their own honorifics at a customer-service retreat last year. "We want people to understand and be excited about what we're doing," she explains. "It's another way of getting people to think about what we're trying to accomplish."

While not replacing official appellations, the new titles have been appearing on printed and e-mailed correspondence: "These are our day-to-day working titles," Price says.

Newly named officers get a rubber stamp to put the word out. "They're a constant reminder [and] a great conversation-starter."

- R.M.

July 4 Brings the Dog Gone Days of Summer

See Spot play. Spot hears fireworks. See Spot run away. After the cloud of smoke from Independence Day cleared, some pet owners were left realizing their pets were missing.

"We had a lot of people call for missing dogs," says Rob Leinberger assistant supervisor for the Chesterfield Animal Control Department. Alvin Jones, field supervisor for the Richmond Animal Shelter, says the shelter received an increase in calls, as well.

Citizens have been finding animals also. When the Richmond SPCA opened its doors Thursday, July 5, people were lined up to turn in animals, says Associate Executive Director, Denise Deisler. Within the first two hours, the shelter took in eight animals.

Before you paint the town with lost dog posters, all local animal officials recommend visiting several different animal shelters in order to see the animals. If you call and describe your pet, it's not always going to match what the official sees. Deisler says because some good Samaritans hold animals in hopes they can find the owner themselves and eventually turn in the dog, owners should keep checking back.

Fourth of July is not the only time dogs, cats and birds get agitated. Thunderstorms are another time animals tend to run. It's not uncommon for animals to get upset because they are not conditioned to the noise, says Lea Morris, humane investigator for the city of Richmond.

"It's just not something they're used to," Morris says. Hunters train hunting dogs to tolerate gunshots by giving them food or some other reward, but house pets do not get that training, he says.

Some animals have been known to run frantically and to jump through screens, glass and out of high windows. Jones says dogs have also run in front of cars and been hit.

He says he tries to be around his 99-pound German shepherd, who gets nervous when it gets loud. The best thing to do is to pay attention to your pet and try to care for them when they get scared.

"In other words, be your dog's own best friend," Morris says.

— Jacob Parcell

Richmond Visits Redmond For a Chat with Microsoft

Bill Gates is big on biotech, and that's got Richmonders in related fields hoping a meeting last month at Microsoft bears fruit here.

A group of Richmonders, including representatives of the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), met in late June with Microsoft folks at the firm's Redmond, Wash., headquarters. Sources say several days of getting-to-know-you sessions went well and will be continued at some point.

The meetings were "purely introductory," says Bob Skunda, president and CEO of the biotech park, and a former state commerce and trade secretary. "We learned more about Microsoft's interests and directions, particularly in health care."

A Microsoft spokesman did not provide details of the meetings by press time, but Skunda says Microsoft eventually could be involved here in any number of ways: industry partnerships, university partnerships, joint ventures, "philanthropically."

Microsoft donates software to UNOS to help it match organ donors and recipients nationwide, says UNOS spokesman Scott Helm. He adds UNOS also would warmly welcome Microsoft's help in UNOS' fund-raising for a move from its rented Chesterfield County offices to a building in the biotech park.

Skunda says that building is in the design stage. UNOS' move would raise the square footage of biotech park facilities to 575,000 and the number of workers at its public, private and nonprofit members to 1,400.

Skunda says the Richmond contingent met with members of Microsoft's health-care business unit, corporate management (not including Gates), and research and development staff. The groups discussed "opportunities and commonalities of interest," he says, declining to provide further details because the discussions were "preliminary."

"In addition to his passion for computers, Gates is interested in biotechnology," states his bio on the Microsoft Web site. "He sits on the board of the Icos Corporation and is a shareholder in Darwin Molecular, a subsidiary of British-based Chiroscience."

The bio also notes "Bill and Melinda Gates have endowed a foundation with more than $17 billion to support philanthropic initiatives in the areas of global health and learning, with the hope that as we move into the 21st century, advances in these critical areas will be available for all people."


Church Hosts Traffic Talks

Someone may want to close two blocks of Floyd Avenue in the Fan, from Harrison to Cherry streets. And it's not VCU.

It's likely the suggestion will pop up July 26 at 7 p.m. when the Catholic Diocese hosts a community meeting to discuss increasing traffic problems for pedestrians and drivers traffic in the campus area. The diocese's offices are located on Floyd Avenue across from the cathedral.

"It's an ongoing issue that the Catholic Diocese and VCU have worked with over the years," says Lt. Linwood Bennett who says he was asked by the Rev. Pat Apuzzo of the diocese to help organize the meeting. Apuzzo, who was out of town last week, could not be reached for comment.

Bennett says the discussions are intended to bring together Cathedral parishioners, city officials, police, VCU administrators and concerned neighbors to "put on the table a possible solution." What's more, says Bennett, "Many of these parties have never been together in the same room."

Previous discussions have led to parking restrictions on Floyd and around the Cathedral and to the crosswalk that cuts through the land adjacent to VCU's James Branch Cabell Library. "Closing Floyd might be one of the suggestions thrown out," says Bennett, but is quick to add, that right now, it's nothing more than that.

"Maybe not today but someday in the near future we'll have a solution that's amenable to everyone," he adds.

Brandon Walters

Some Like It, Hot Talk

OK, we'll bite. We've seen the new bus billboards, ordering in stark white-stenciled letters on a black background: "DO NOT LISTEN TO WLEE AM 990." Try as we might, we simply could not resist the oh-so-subtle reverse psychology. Next thing we knew, we were flipping with Pavlovianlike response to "Hot Talk 990" every time we saw the message and tasted the bus fumes. And so, our highly scientific experiment began. Every time we saw the board, we turned it on and here's what we heard through the buzzing and hissing:a riveting conversation between two geezers — excuse us — learned men, on why the Catholic Church should return to the Latin Mass.Don Imus making fun of Carl Lewis' high-pitched voice, suggesting he might become the spokesman for KY Jelly."…We are talking about the Internet and what we can do about it …"A serious rant about the World Health Organization's ranking of medical care among the nations of the world. We wanted to pay attention, but couldn't get past the announcer's pronunciations of Columbia, candor and doctor: CO-lumbia, can-DOOR and doc-TORE.a spirited discussion of illegal left turns and other scofflaw offenses.

- Janet Giampietro

Who Wants to Be a Brainiac?

These kids could put your ordinary popular game-show contestant to shame.

On June 11, the Governor's School BoB Squad (that's BoB for Battle of the Brains), an academic team, finished second in the nation at a tournament in Atlanta. It's not the highest they've ever placed; they won a national championship in 1995.

As in "Jeopardy," contestants buzz in when they know the answer. There's no multiple choice, no money and no Regis spewing "Is thad ya final ansa?"

In addition to answering tough questions, they write them too. They wrote more than 250 questions for a tournament they hosted at the Governor's school in March. Coach John Barnes says the team has question-writing down to an art.

Below are two questions from the last two rounds of a recent "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" and two questions from the final round of the BoB Squad's March tournament. You decide whose questions are tougher:

1) What is the classified section of a newspaper best known for carrying?
a) movie reviews
b) stock quotes
c) food recipes
d) ads

2) Whose famous 1637 theorem stumped mathematicians for its proof for over 350 years?
a) Izaak Walton
b) Sir Isaac Newton
c) Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
d) Pierre de Fermat

3) In 1995, it was proved without the aid of a computer for the first time. With computer assistance, it had first been proven by Appel and Haken in 1976. Identify this theorem regarding the minimum number of colors with which any map can be colored without two adjoining countries being the same color.

4) Its rules were explained in Johann Fux's "Gradus ad Parnassum." Types include: strict, free, combined, double triple and linear. It is used to add harmony to a melody known as the cantus firmus. Identify this musical technique in which many voices recite differing but comprehensible parts.

— Jacob Parcell

1: D, 2: C; 3: the four-color theorem; 4: counterpoint


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