A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first phase of a long-awaited project set to be transformative for downtown Richmond took place Tuesday — and it smelled delicious.
On Tuesday, community leaders gathered to celebrate the Richmond Business Hub, which has opened initially with a food hall in the long-vacant 10,000 square-foot groundfloor space of the Richmond BART parking garage at 1503 Macdonald Ave.
In August, another ceremony will be held in the same space for CoBiz Richmond, the two-story co-working, business incubator and community center launching with support from a $1 million grant from Chevron’s eQuip Richmond economic revitalization initiative.
“Finally, we’re seeing the rebirth of main street,” Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said during Tuesday’s ceremony. “It’s coming back.”
The new food hall, featuring Red Bay Coffee and Roux, will offer an “unprecedented mix of modern cuisine, including fourth wave coffee, healthy soul food, and regular pop-ups from local food entrepreneurs,” according to Ernst Valery of SAA | EVI Development, who is behind the project.
The coffee and food will provide needed sustenance for dozens of businesses, nonprofits and agencies that will soon operate at CoBiz.
Valery, based in Baltimore, said he chose projects in Richmond’s downtown in part because of its proximity to the transit station shared by BART and Amtrak. About 8,000 people each weekday walk past The Hub to and from the station, said Mayor Butt.
“If we can get just 1 percent of them a day to walk by here and patronize these businesses, this place will be a roaring success,” said the mayor.
The Richmond Business Hub’s mission aligns with Chevron’s $10 million eQuip Richmond program, which makes strategic investments to boost resources and opportunities for existing small businesses and entrepreneurs in Richmond and North Richmond.
eQuip Richmond has also provided grants to the Construction Resource Center, aimed at ensuring local residents and businesses are prepared for the jobs and construction contracts tied to the city’s economic growth, and Pogo Park Products, which enabled an Iron Triangle nonprofit staffed entirely by neighborhood residents to win large grants to administer local park improvement projects.
“We want to help bring in new businesses and reinvigorate existing businesses in a way that brings opportunities, a sense of entrepreneurship, and ultimately a sense of self-sufficiency in the community,” said Lily Rahnema, Chevron Richmond community engagement manager.