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East End News

Housemade by Hilary – Update

Housemade by Hilary was planning on opening a space in 2000 Venable St but now the potential retail store has suffered a temporary setback. “When I went to City Hall to get our occupancy permit,” says Stephen Martin, Hilary’s partner, “I was stunned to learn that the space we were going to occupy is zoned to be a restaurant and not for retail. Our developer thought the space was zoned for retail, and part of it is. But the major part on the corner is not. Apparently, in that area, the zoning will not allow a retail store on a corner.” Stephen says that to change the zoning would require a six-month process culminating with a hearing in front of City Council, which could say, “No.” The team and the developer are currently not willing to risk the time and money necessary. “We are not unhappy with our developer or the City. The zoning is what it is, and we probably should have checked sooner that everything was copacetic.” So now what? “We are now back in the market for retail space. We’d like to find around 1500 to 2000 square feet.” The company is also looking for space for a pop up sale (so if you’re interested, please let them know!) “We have built up a good deal of inventory in anticipation of opening the shop soon”.

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Jeannie Casey Saxton
Jeannie Casey Saxton 04/18/2018 at 2:48 PM

Just saw sign yesterday. Well that’s a shame

Hunter 04/18/2018 at 2:56 PM

Wow, wouldn’t that be the first thing you do before starting construction? That is a pretty major error.

Christine Greenberg
Christine Greenberg 04/18/2018 at 2:57 PM

Ugh. How frustrating!

Jennifer Haines
Jennifer Haines 04/18/2018 at 3:00 PM

You can always go through the process to redone??

Carla Van Fossen Mathews
Carla Van Fossen Mathews 04/18/2018 at 6:03 PM

The process isn’t simple. We were faced with that issue at another location in Church Hill before we went to 27th St.

Jennifer Haines
Jennifer Haines 04/18/2018 at 6:44 PM


Carla Van Fossen Mathews
Carla Van Fossen Mathews 04/18/2018 at 6:49 PM

Jennifer Haines , I assumed that’s what you meant. I’m becoming an accomplished reader of autocorrect. ? We were faced with a zoning issue and had to abandon a really promising location. Disappointed.

Jennifer Haines
Jennifer Haines 04/18/2018 at 6:53 PM

The City of Richmond is certainly challenging and typically slow and perhaps inept, I think we just got lucky when we had them rezone years ago

Dana Bagby
Dana Bagby 04/18/2018 at 7:18 PM

Perfectly put, Jennifer.

Paul C Hammond
Paul C Hammond 04/18/2018 at 11:51 PM

Carla Van Fossen Mathews I can’t imagine who would object. I hope the community rallies behind you.

BAF 04/18/2018 at 3:11 PM

They may not be unhappy with their developer, but I certainly wouldn’t hire them if they didn’t do their due diligence.

Ken 04/18/2018 at 3:11 PM

Roaring Pines is on the corner?And a corner store one block away?

Michael Nesossis
Michael Nesossis 04/18/2018 at 3:31 PM

So was the zoning process forgotten about? Interesting.

Michael Hild
Michael Hild 04/18/2018 at 3:50 PM

I was at the zoning board meeting when the zoning variance was approved with the developer/building owner presenting the variance request (I was there for a different topic but had to sit through this hearing first). I remember the zoning board (and administration) being very clear about a portion of the space being approved for retail and the other half being approved as restaurant. While it was nonsensical zoning mumbo jumbo rationale, they couldn’t have been more clear about the limitations, and the developer/owner understood this. Really odd…something isn’t adding up here.

Rachel Woolwine Davis
Rachel Woolwine Davis 04/18/2018 at 5:09 PM

Thanks for sharing this.

Holly Brown
Holly Brown 04/18/2018 at 7:42 PM


Andrew 04/18/2018 at 6:31 PM

Yes Hunter I would. Once I determined water is wet.

Rachel Woolwine Davis
Rachel Woolwine Davis 04/18/2018 at 7:42 PM

This place would be perfect for a small batch vendor like King of Pops or Billy Bread.

Liz O 04/18/2018 at 8:32 PM

You should get with our councilwoman- she helped C. Alexanders get a zoning variance for their middle of the block retail right across the street. I hate to see this space stay empty.

Lee 04/18/2018 at 9:03 PM

Uhmmm, it’s handmade/vintage furniture. In other words, it’s decorative. Therefore it’s not just furniture, but “art.” Ergo, this is not a furniture store, but an art gallery. Alternately, “Housemade by Hillary” is a site specific performance art installation about the exchange of money for furniture under late capitalist socioeconomic conditions, to be located in a gallery of the same name. There, problem solved, right?!?

…But seriously, the takeaway here is that the r-63 zoning language seriously needs to be revisited. The current language specifically permits businesses which basically no longer exist (video rental, anyone?) and only seems to actually allow hair/nail salons, convenience stores, restaurants and specialty food retail. There are plenty of vacant or underutilized corner locations in this neighborhood, entirely too many “convenience stores” and there appear to be more restaurants than neighborhood residents can logically support –
if all of the vacant corners in Church Hill become one of these four things (bakery/specialty food, restaurant, convenience, or salon) it seems like most of these businesses will have to be more upmarket and/or must draw folks from outside of the neighborhood to sustain themselves. There’s not enough population or disposable income to support enough of these specific, limited types of businesses to fill all the vacant and neglected retail space in the area. When considered logically, the limitations and prescriptions of the R-63 zoning appear to lead to results which contradict the narrative description of intent for the R-63 zone. I won’t reiterate it all here, as I’ve said enough, but basically, the zoning type itself makes little sense, nevermind that this corner probably be zoned commercial anyway.

CJ Walker
CJ Walker 04/18/2018 at 9:17 PM

That’s odd. This was a store years ago…

Tiffany Ingram
Tiffany Ingram 04/18/2018 at 11:59 PM

Oh man, are you guys out a ton of $$?? This sucks to hear. Any new business in Church Hill would be welcomed. Could we petition with you??

Rob Pate 04/19/2018 at 6:21 AM

Nonsensical zoning mumbo jumbo is right. Wasnt spelled out clear enough for me. No retail allowed on the CORNER property. UNLESS its a convenience store,(More 40s and Lottery!) art gallery, bakery/sandwich/deli/coffee shop or restaurant.Retail IS allowed at the smaller storefront on Mosby street. If Hilary would have called her business an art gallery it would have been fine. She handcrafts repurposed vintage household items. Each one is a work of art.There is the expensive and time consuming prospect of a ‘special use permit’ for her business which she is not interested in. I have refunded her deposit and absorbed some expenses for her fitup.
I have rented the smaller storefront to a nice guy who wants to open a yoga/fitness studio. Im sure city hall will find a problem with that too.
So many kicks in the gut from the city on this or any rehab project.
Anybody who is interested and has something constructive to say is welcome to stop by late Friday afternoon.

MP 04/19/2018 at 8:43 AM

Have you checked out the tire shop on the corner of 25th and R St? It’s for sale, and with all the new traffic the grocery store/culinary school will bring, could be a great location. There’s some new development coming on the 1100 block of 25th as well. It’s been on the market for a long time, so maybe you could get a deal.

Sharon Burton 04/19/2018 at 9:01 AM

Check out building at 29th & P. It is for sale.

35th & M 04/19/2018 at 10:28 AM

Rob, I find you guilty of trying to improve our neighborhood!!!!!

Eric S. Huffstutler 04/19/2018 at 2:41 PM

I can believe it that the city did not make thing crystal clear since half the time they don’t know which end is up or who is doing what. But at the same time, the buyer should have done little proactive homework as well before obligating. It is a bad situation all the way around for everyone.

I had thought for some reason that a plant shop was going in there. A restaurant wouldn’t be bad since there isn’t one in that immediate area. Problem is required parking.

Erin White
Erin White 04/19/2018 at 3:08 PM

I would love to see a store in that space with merchandise *everyone* in the neighborhood can use and afford.

Sarah Blackburn
Sarah Blackburn 04/22/2018 at 4:27 PM

Would be even more excited to see a restaurant that could strike a balance between reasonably healthy and affordable. Bonus if they’d serve breakfast before 8am on the weekends for us sad, tired parents ?

L 04/20/2018 at 8:06 AM

@ Erin White – Everyone? I don’t mean to be a jerk, but what would that store sell exactly, considering that there are plenty of folks in the neighborhood that appear to subsist solely on begging for change? Should it be another corner store, right across from the one that’s already there?

Please understand: I’m not saying that poor folks don’t matter, and I do think we need more inclusive businesses in the neighborhood, but perhaps some of our focus needs to be redirected toward finding ways to bring our less fortunate neighbors out of poverty so that they can be included.

Liz 04/20/2018 at 4:42 PM

@ L – hear hear!

Kathi Sanders 04/21/2018 at 7:53 AM

There is retail space available now and more coming available probably by summer at n 32nd and Marshall Street!!


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