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BREAKING GROUND, CUTTING RIBBONS, & BLAZING TRAILS

From Mixed-Use Revitalization Efforts, to New Tourist Attractions and Startup Companies— Richmond is Creating Trails for Success IN THIS ISSUE:

• CONSTRUCTION IS UNDERWAY FOR HENRICO’S LARGEST MIXED-USE REVITALIZATION PROJECT TO-DATE • THE VIRGINIA CAPITAL TRAIL OPENS ALL 52 MILES AND CELEBRATES A LONG, COLLECTIVE EFFORT • THE COMPETITIVE EDGE OF GREEN APPRAISALS • LOCAL REALTOR® JODY CLOWER AIMS TO HELP AGENTS AND CONSUMERS WITH INTERNET STARTUP, NESTINY™


CONSTRUCTION IS UNDERWAY FOR HENRICO’S LARGEST MIXED-USE REVITALIZATION PROJECT TO-DATE

by Edward Crews, Communications Director, Gumenick Properties

Libbie

Mill-Midtown is very active. Heavy construction vehicles are moving dirt. Steelworkers are welding I-beams. Roads are being graded and paved, and laborers are putting the finishing touches on the new Henrico County public library here, as well as the adjacent pier and plaza, which adjoin the community’s centerpiece lake. Soon, the tempo will get even faster. Within weeks, Gumenick Properties, developer of this new mixed-use Henrico County community, will break ground on its first for-sale townhomes and apartments. The latter will be part of a 5-story building, containing 327 apartments and approximately 40,000 square feet of first-floor retail space. The first townhomes will be delivered in mid-2016. The apartments are slated for completion in early 2018. “Libbie Mill-Midtown has come a long way since we first discussed its creation. Two years ago, we basically had an 80-acre open field. Today, we have infrastructure in place, buildings completed and more on the way. We are pleased with the progress and optimistic about the future,” said Wayne A.Chasen, Gumenick Properties’ President and Chief Executive Officer. In line with its mixed-use nature, LibbieMill-Midtown has become home to a variety of organizations. Already in place are Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, Gumenick Properties’ own offices and Southern Season, a 53,000-square foot gourmet food store.

Image Courtesy of Gumenick Properties

Next month, the new state-of-the-art, 60,000-square foot Libbie Mill Library will open on land donated by Gumenick Properties. In the spring of 2016, Rutherford, a Marsh & McLennan Agency, LLC company, will move its offices here, and awardwinning chef Walter Bundy will open a 5,872-square foot restaurant, featuring new interpretations of Southern cuisine. Gumenick Properties has also received the right to build up to a 250-foot tall mixeduse building. The timing of construction of such a mixed-use building is contingent upon securing a lead tenant for the space. Libbie Mill-Midtown is attracting tenants in part because of its superb location. It sits in the heart of the Midtown area, now enjoying a dynamic rejuvenation. In addition, the community is just minutes from downtown Richmond, as well as Short Pump, to the west. Plus, it offers easy, quick access to I-64, I-95 and the Downtown Expressway. All the move-ins and construction have attracted attention -- and admiration. Earlier this year, Libbie Mill-Midtown received the Impact Award from the Richmond Real Estate Group and was named Project of the Year by the Greater Richmond Association for Commercial Real Estate. While much has been accomplished, the project is far from completion. It is projected to take approximately ten years to develop. Phasing is linked to market conditions versus a construction schedule. This allows for greater flexibility in adapting to economic and market changes.


“Anybody who visits Libbie Mill-Midtown will experience a ‘back-to-the-future’ moment. Our inspiration for this project comes from early twentieth century urban life. At that time, people worked and played near where they lived. Neighborhoods had a distinctive character and were pedestrian-friendly. Getting to work, the store, a park or friend’s home involved a stroll down the street. The same will be true of Libbie Mill-Midtown,” Chasen said.

The projected decade-long buildout reflects the fact that this is the largest revitalization effort in Henrico’s 400-year history. The community will cover approximately 80 acres between West Broad Street and Staples Mill Road near Libbie Avenue. Libbie Mill-Midtown is approved for up to 994 for-sales homes and 1,096 apartments. It also will have a total of approximately 160,000 square feet of retail space. A boulevard spanning the community and encircling the Libbie Mill Lake will connect Libbie Avenue and Staples Mill Road, the two streets that inspired its name.

An effort of this size requires a strong multi-disciplinary team. The one at Libbie Mill-Midtown includes many well-known Richmond area firms: E.D. Lewis, engineering services; Whiting Turner Construction, general contractor; Cite Design, landscape architecture; CBRE|Richmond, office and retail leasing; and Commonwealth Architects. While Libbie Mill-Midtown is a new community, Henrico-based Gumenick Properties has a long history with this property. Nathan Gumenick, the company’s founder, acquired the land in the late 1940s. He built apartments on the site to help meet the substantial post-World War II housing demand. In 2001, the company conducted a strategic study that determined this site was ideally suited for an urban mixed-use community. As a result, plans were made, zoning received and the 60-year old apartments were demolished. From the start, Libbie Mill-Midtown has been envisioned as a “retro” neighborhood with modern amenities. “Anybody who visits Libbie Mill-Midtown will experience a ‘back-tothe-future’ moment. Our inspiration for this project comes from early twentieth century urban life. At that time, people worked and played near where they lived. Neighborhoods had a distinctive character and were pedestrian-friendly. Getting to work, the store, a park or friend’s home involved a stroll down the street. The same will be true of Libbie Mill-Midtown,” Chasen said. Visitors and residents at Libbie Mill-Midtown can park their cars upon arrival. They won’t be needed again until it is time to leave. The library, the plaza, pier and lake area, shops, stores, restaurants and offices will be just a short walk from homes and apartments.


Images Courtesy of Gumenick Properties

Not only will Libbie Mill-Midtown have an urban character, but its architectural inspirations are vintage cityscapes. The goal is to achieve a look and feel similar to what exists in Carytown, Shockoe Slip, Church Hill and Tobacco Row. The bold vision behind Libbie Mill-Midtown has been praised by a variety of people, including neighbors, economic development experts, designers and local officials. “Libbie Mill-Midtown is a welcome addition to the area. It is helping to transform this area of Henrico County. When I talk to nearby residents, I hear a lot of positive comments and an eagerness to see the project completed. This is going to be a remarkable place,” said Henrico Supervisor Dick Glover, who represents the Brookland District where the community is located. It is far too early to determine Libbie Mill-Midtown’s legacy. Nothing exactly like it exists here or elsewhere. It could become a model for urban mixed-use neighborhoods, something that Americans increasingly indicate they want. Certainly, the community is creating – and will continue to create – jobs. The community promises to be a home for new ventures. Plus, it’s contributing to an ongoing area renaissance that is helping transform the West Broad Street area and nearby neighborhoods. “We have big hopes for Libbie Mill-Midtown,” Chasen said. “Clearly, we want it to be a commercial success. Yet, we also want it to benefit our nearby neighbors, Henrico County and the Central Virginia region. Above all, we want this community to be an exciting, fun-filled place that people will call home for many generations.”■


“Green

appraisals allow us to spell out, in dollar form, the value of energy enhancements in our EarthCraft homes,” said Mark Waring, Vice President of Bain-Waring Builders in Richmond, VA, “and we’ve never had a home come in under the appraised price. Having a green addendum provides both the seller and the buyer peace of mind in knowing the investments into energy efficiency and sustainability are reflected in the value of the home.”

In the last issue of the The Housing Interpreter, EarthCraft Virginia

introduced you to a niche of the real estate market that is “green and growing,” reporting that over 33% of all new homes sold in 2014 were rated by a Home Energy Rater and issued a Home Energy Rating (HERS) Index Score. Results from a Harris Interactive Poll also showed 49% of homebuyers considered “eco-friendly” features more important than luxury items in a home and that buyers are paying 10 - 14% more for houses showing “green” certifications. Knowing that consumer awareness and interest is on the rise, how do Realtors builders and homeowners alike ensure their home energy improvements are fairly reflected in the marketplace? Meet the “Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum,” which despite being released by the Appraisal Institute in 2011, is still a fairly underutilized tool in the Virginia appraisal market. The Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum, developed by appraisers to support their efforts in analyzing residential “green” features and properties, supplements the standard home appraisal form used to verify the value of a home. Since high performance homes have additional value that is not always evident to appraisers, the completed addendum becomes a useful tool that allows realtors, builders, and homeowners to more effectively communicate green or energy efficient features such as third party certifications, insulation type, window specs, appliances, mechanicals, building tightness and more. Sellers have the right to request an accredited green appraiser who is educated in identifying these features and accurately valuing properties. In 2013, the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) entered into an agreement with the Appraisal Institute which allows RESNET accredited Home Energy Rating Software Programs to generate the addendum by auto-populating the data collected in the home energy rating. With a focus on high performance and sustainability, every EarthCraft certified home receives a HERS Index Score and is able to easily generate this report. The third-party quality assurance provided with EarthCraft certification allows the buyer to better understand home upgrades and anticipated energy use. (Continued on Page 6)


If you have a message for Richmond REALTORS速, homebuyers, or homeowners, please contact kwhitlow@rarealtors.com


“Green appraisals allow us to spell out, in dollar form, the value of energy enhancements in our EarthCraft homes,” said Mark Waring, Vice President of Bain-Waring Builders in Richmond, VA, “and we’ve never had a home come in under the appraised price. Having a green addendum provides both the seller and the buyer peace of mind in knowing the investments into energy efficiency and sustainability are reflected in the value of the home.” Peace of mind is a valuable tool in the real estate market. Use of the Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum achieves just that, offering assurance to the buyer and seller that the smart investment into energy and sustainability upgrades will be protected in the market. In the upcoming issue of The Housing Interpreter, EarthCraft Virginia will take a closer look at home performance through actual house data including specific energy efficient and sustainability measures taken in EarthCraft homes and their impact on utility costs and home sales. How EarthCraft Can Help? The EarthCraft House program, offered statewide in Virginia and throughout the Southeast, offers builders third party verification and compliance with both HERS Index Score and EarthCraft certification. Comprehensive verification and testing ensures that all EarthCraft homes are top quality and a cut above the norm. By incorporating energy and resource efficient designs and systems, all EarthCraft homes demonstrate lowered energy costs, directly translating to monthly utility savings for the homeowners while lessening the home’s impact on the environment. With energy efficiency at its core, EarthCraft Virginia’s average HERS is 65 and can even get down to single digits on some homes. This means that EarthCraft certified homes are often 35%+ more energy efficient than a standard new home on the market today. Coupling the HERS Index Score with high quality, sustainable construction, EarthCraft builders are bringing the next generation of housing to Virginia homeowners. You can expect more from your home with EarthCraft. You’ll notice the difference with these benefits: • • • •

Significant savings on operating and maintenance costs Conservation of energy, water, and natural resources A healthier living environment with improved air quality A quieter home with increased comport and enhanced durability

For more information on EarthCraft Virginia and the EarthCraft family of programs, green appraisals and their application on high performance housing, or Realtor training opportunities, contact us at admin@earthcraftvirginia.org.■


More than School

by Dan Frank, Head of School, The Steward School

IJK-12 ’m proud to say that The Steward School, an independent school located in the west end of Richmond, has

become known for its innovative approach to education. The phrases “Fuel the mind. Stir the imagination. Unleash the possibilities.” capture our educational philosophy perfectly. Tied together with the Steward mission to prepare students for college and for life in a community defined by robust academics, inspiration, engagement, and care, these imperatives help tell the story. I think these words describe our common purpose as a community. They’re not empty catchphrases; they’re not clichés. They’re an anthem, a rallying cry for the Steward community.

Fuel the mind.

We will give students information, tools, and challenges. No engine can run without fuel; no child’s mind is invigorated without stimulation.

Stir the imagination.

We will ask them to design and think creatively, to share and debate. Whether inventing a new recipe in the Bryan Innovation Lab kitchen, conducting a chemistry experiment, or mixing paint colors in our Cramer Center for the Arts, students’ dreams will be sparked and provoked.

Unleash the possibilities.

Students will speak and publish; they will prototype and innovate. And, over the course of their time at Steward, each of them will unleash the possibilities that are uniquely theirs.

The Steward mission makes a point of stating that the school’s goal is to prepare students for college and for life. In the short term, college is essentially the “now,” while life could be considered the “next.” Schools know what colleges look for in applicants, and Steward prepares them for that phase through an academically challenging curriculum, a player-oriented athletic development program, and extracurricular and service opportunities that allow students to explore beyond the classroom. When it comes to preparing for life, there are many unknowns. Because ours is a world defined by rapid change and flux, we believe that Steward graduates will need to have more varied knowledge than algebra and physics. Their skillsets will need to include knowledge of coding and entrepreneurship, for example, and they should be prepared to apply more open-ended talents than in any previous decade. The Steward curriculum is designed to prepare students for these opportunities. With our small size and focus on design, research, and innovation as differentiators, Steward is working to be recognized nationally as a leader in creative teaching and learning. Instructors and curriculum are in place to allow young minds to tackle new challenges, some of which cannot even be anticipated in today’s society. There is no telling what careers they will choose, what products they will invent, or what businesses they will start, but we know that children need to be rigorous, perseverant, collaborative, and creative. With these traits, they will thrive in the “now” and be well-prepared for the “next.” Visit the school’s website (www.stewardschool.org) or come for a tour to learn more about how Steward fuels minds, stirs imaginations, and unleashes possibilities. Steward doesn’t want to be a school where the students just pass tests…we want to break new ground, to foster out-of-the-box thinkers, and to do good work in the community. In other words, Steward is more than school.

Affordability at Steward

Contact the Admissions Office to learn about options that make a Steward School education an affordable option for your child. Rising ninth graders are encouraged to apply for the Debbie Robson Merit Scholarship, which provides four years of full tuition in the Upper School. If you have a message for Richmond REALTORS®, homebuyers, or homeowners, please contact kwhitlow@rarealtors.com


The Virginia Capital Trail Opens All 52 Miles and Celebrates a Long, Collective Effort by Kate Landis, Marketing and Public Relations Manager, Richmond Association of REALTORS®

planning,Tadvocacy his October, a culmination of a total 24 years of research, fundraising, and labor will be celebrated with the grand opening of the Virginia Capital Trail.

The Virginia Capital Trail is a dedicated, paved pedestrian and bicycle trail that connects Virginia’s past capital, Jamestown, with its current capital, Richmond, along the Scenic Route 5 corridor—one of the first inland routes in North America. The completed trail spans approximately 52 miles, across four jurisdictions. From the House Document recommending the inclusion of bicycle lanes on Route 5 in 1991, to Virginia Department of Transportations’ requests for proposal on a multi-use trail feasibility study in 1996, to the formation of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation in 2004 and initial groundbreaking in 2005, the completion of this trail reflects a great deal of conscientiousness and collective efforts. For Beth Weisbrod, Executive Director of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation, one of the most exciting pieces of this project is the installation of counters along the entire 52 miles of the trail. “As exciting as all the recent flurry of construction is to us, this gave us an even bigger thrill,” Weisbrod said. “Counting users is how we’ll measure our success. Then, we’ll leverage those numbers to help us advocate for more separated, multi-use trails in the region.” In years prior to the trail’s completion, the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation had used other organizations’ research to arrive at projections on economic impact. With the counters installed along the trail, the Foundation will combine these numbers with information gathered from trail users, indicating local patronage during their visit. This data will help provide a clear picture on the economic ripple effects the trail creates for the surrounding region. According to the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation, the Silver Comet Trail in Atlanta reports 1.9 million users annually and generates an estimated over 400 percent return on investment for local communities, the region, and the state. “We fully expect our counts and surveys to tell a similar story,” Weisbrod said. “A story that will not just support the projections we’ve been making these last ten years, but one that will build a solid economic case for more trails.” Studies have also shown a positive correlation between residential property values and proximity to bike and pedestrian trails. For example, one conducted on the Little Miami Scenic Trail found that property sale prices increased by $7.05 for every foot closer a property is in proximity to the trail. The official ribbon cutting for the entire Virginia Capital Trail will be held at Great Shiplock Park, at Pear and Dock Streets, on Friday, October 2, 2015, at 5:30p.m. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe will serve as keynote speaker for the event. Celebrations will continue the following day—“Virginia Capital Trail Day”—at various points throughout the trail. “Get out on the trail and be counted,” Weisbrod urged the public. “Not only will you enjoy this beautiful new amenity, you’ll be part of our efforts to create more. And, you’ll be an important part of the ongoing evolution of the region into an awesome outdoor destination.” ■


LOCAL REALTOR® JODY CLOWER AIMS TO HELP AGENTS AND CONSUMERS WITH INTERNET STARTUP, NESTINY™

by Kate Landis, Marketing and Public Relations Manager, Richmond Association of REALTORS®

Growing up in Goochland County among a

family full of architects and contractors, local Realtor Jody Clower naturally developed an affinity for home ownership. After attending Meredith College and earning a Bachelor of Science in Business, Marketing, and Professional Communication, Jody remained in the Raleigh area, working for software companies and internet startups through the mid-2000s. She decided to make a career shift into real estate in 2007, intending to apply her experience in the technology industry. Beginning her new career in California during the short sale crisis presented her with some unique challenges as a new agent and put her resolution to the test. In 2008, Jody returned to the Richmond area to continue the career she was enamored with. “I loved the industry; but because of my background, I recognized a lot of broken things,” Clower said. “There were a lot of disjointed tools and techniques agents were using to try to find new clients, nurture existing clients, service clients during the transaction, and follow up after a transaction closed. I also started looking around at the landscape and started to see how the natural order of the real estate process had been disrupted by incorrect, misleading, and misinterpreted information on the internet.” Some of the challenges Jody experienced as an agent involved keeping up with marketing while trying to service existing clients, and correcting misinformation clients had received from other sources. She quickly learned that she was not alone, and these were common causes of frustration for Realtors. “I thought to myself, there has got to be a

Images Courtesy of Nestiny™

better way. We are in a modern world, this is a digital age, and we should figure out a solution that helps everybody,” Clower said. Jody began working on the concept and business plan for Nestiny in 2012, while working as a full-time agent. Her vision was to develop an online source of information for home buyers and sellers that is current, trustworthy, and easily digested, while offering agents a way to brand their own portals to the site. In November 2013, Nestiny incorporated and by August 2014, Jody dialed down her personal agent business to dedicate her time and efforts solely to Nestiny. Version 1.0 of the site included tools for prospective home buyers, like the ‘Ready Report’ and the ‘True Affordability Tool.’ “When someone signs up on the site, they go through this discovery experience— which will become even more like a game in version 2.0 of the site,” Clower said. “Basically, we’ll reward people along the way for learning and make it fun. As they’re working toward what we’ve named the ‘Journey Homeward,’ it presents the buyer with a digital Ready Report that summarizes the different aspects of their real estate wants and needs, as well as the areas for which they need additional preparation. Nestiny helps discover how ready they are.” In contrast to the information found on home search sites, Nestiny aims to focus on the buyer, to help them uncover what they’re looking for and what is going to be a comfortable fit for them before they begin looking at houses. “The Ready Report is great


“When someone signs up on the site, they go through this discovery experience—which will become even more like a game in version 2.0 of the site,” Clower said. “Basically, we’ll reward people along the way for learning and make it fun. As they’re working toward what we’ve named the ‘Journey Homeward,’ it presents the buyer with a digital Ready Report that summarizes the different aspects of their real estate wants and needs, as well as the areas for which they need additional preparation. Nestiny helps discover how ready they are.” for consumers; but it’s also great for their agents,” Clower said. “By the time an agent begins working with their client, an agent will already have a good picture of who they’re working with and what they want. It’s a great catalyst for getting that conversation going. Some people are renting because they don’t fully understand what buying a home entails. They put it off and say, ‘in a couple of years I’ll get to that.’ With Nestiny, they’ll have a tool to figure everything out at their own pace. It could help some of them realize they’re actually ready to buy now, if they’d like to.” The True Affordability Tool helps consumers self-assess and understand what kind of house they can really afford. The tool collects information about the consumer’s income, savings, and monthly expenses. The more information they supply about their expenses, the more helpful the tool can be for them. The site’s algorithm then presents them with three price ranges: ‘aggressive,’ ‘balanced,’ and ‘conservative.’ “The tool is intended to help show consumers which price ranges should work best for them, with regard for their current lifestyles and future plans,” Clower said. “There are certain important lifestyle questions the True Affordability Tool includes that lenders don’t ask, resulting in a more complete picture. What buyers really care about is their actual bottom line, and Nestiny helps them discover this figure; while the traditional lending process can miss important details.” Soon, Nestiny will roll out version 2.0 of the site with games, apps, and other product releases following in a steady stream over the next eighteen months. “We have some exciting releases coming up that are going to deliver great tools to the agent community. They’re nothing like the other tools out there,” Clower said. “Agent Flair will give agents an easy to use online store that helps them create highly stylized and branded marketing collateral. ForgetMeNotz is a simple reminder service that will help Agents stay on top of all the tasks they’re juggling. Home Pinwheel is a fun game designed to help buyers uncover their favorite home styles, which will save agents from showing the wrong homes. And all of this is wrapped with an Agent branded buyer experience. The Agent is prominent throughout the journey.” (Continued on the following page)


Clower is also currently working on an Agent Dashboard and automated e-mail campaign services for Realtor subscribers. These services will provide tools to quickly sort and prioritize data—like finding the prospects most likely to move, and highlight who is engaging the most on the website and through email campaigns. The goal of these products is to provide agents with a better picture of where they should focus their efforts, and give them simple tools for e-mail campaigns. “Everything in the market today is overbuilt, but doesn’t address the key pain points of agents,” Clower said. “It’s very difficult to know where to spend your time; and if you spend your time in the wrong places, you can’t get it back. With the Agent Dashboard, we can help agents focus their efforts on the people most likely to do business in the near future, and also give them visibility into their pipeline. This helps ensure that they are touching base with the right prospects at the right times.” Nestiny has been conducting pilot trials with forty local agents—testing with their existing databases and gathering feedback from agents and consumers, through surveys and interviews, to help fine tune the products. “The results have been phenomenal already,” Clower said. “So far, the agents conducting trials are already loving it, and we’re helping them uncover prospects from their own databases they just didn’t realize were in the market.” Any agent in the Richmond region can access a free 60-day site trial by visiting Nestiny.com/RARFree60. “We haven’t yet decided on our subscription fee, but it’s going to be very affordable,” Clower explained. “I’m really sensitive to price and want to provide a lot of bang for the buck.” Jody is currently working with a staff of two developers, one marketing and fulfillment associate, and one artist, who creates original artwork for the site. “We’re almost like a creative agency housed within a technology startup,” Clower said. “My team is amazing. They’re very ambitious, creative, and passionate, and they share my vision for enhancing a Realtor’s quality of life and productivity, while helping consumers realize their dreams of owning a home.” Nestiny has already received some local and national press, and Jody has enthusiastically touted the Richmond region’s startup environment. “Richmond is such a cool place for so many reasons and my hope is that Nestiny will be a locally grown, nationally known entity,” she said. “I would love to help our town by reinforcing what a great place it is to start a business, and be the ‘do-gooder’ of real estate websites.” ■


The Housing Interpreter September 2015