December 20, 2022

A jolly Tuesday to ya, Richmond.

โ˜€๏ธ Today's weather: Mostly sunny, with a high near 42.

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Today's newsletter is 840 words โ€” a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: ๐Ÿ™ Rent prices fall โ€” a little

Data: Zillow; Note: Typical rent is the average rent of the middle 30% of units; Chart: Axios Visuals

After a year of surging rents, prices are starting to dip โ€” if only just a little.

Why it matters: The average rent in Richmond was up around 12% earlier this year and a whopping 24% since the start of the pandemic โ€” and showed no signs of slowing down.

  • Some locals were getting hit hard at lease renewal time with landlords jacking monthly rates by hundreds of dollars just for tenants to stay put.

What's happening: Asking rent in Richmond declined by about 1.5% since the beginning of October, Michael Cobb, director of market analytics for CoStar Group, tells Axios.

  • Zillow puts the monthly drop at .60%.
  • Month-over-month prices are falling fastest in Raleigh (-1.3%), Austin (-1.2%), and Seattle (-1.1%), according to Zillow.

Yes, but: Rents aren't falling in every part of town. The West End saw a 2.4% increase since October, Cobb said, possibly due to "spillover pressure" from renter-magnet Scott's Addition.

Meanwhile, the biggest declines in the region were in eastern Henrico, where rent fell by 4.2%, and in Petersburg, where it dropped by 2.8%.

  • Cobb said those figures are likely connected to a rise in evictions, creating more inventory.

Zoom out: Nationwide, November saw the largest month-over-month drop in rent prices โ€” 0.4% โ€” since Zillow started tracking this data in 2015, Axios' Emily Peck reports.

The big picture: Rent prices have gotten crazy, jumping nationwide by an average of 36.9% in the past five years while hourly earnings only went up by 23%, per Zillow.

  • The result: More people are "doubling up with roommates or family," instead of striking out on their own, Zillow reports.
  • Rents are still higher than before the pandemic, at an average of $1,567 in Richmond, 8.2% higher than last year.

2. Catch up fast: โšก๏ธ Today's primary

What to expect when you're expecting a primary. McClellan and Morrissey. Photos: Ned Oliver/Axios

It's showdown day for Virginia Democrats.

What's happening: The party is holding a primary to pick its nominee to replace the late Rep. Don McEachin in Congress.

Why it matters: The contest is pitting basically the entire Democratic establishment, lined up behind state Sen. Jenn McClellan, against state Sen. Joe Morrissey.

Here's what to know about this unusual election day โ€ฆ

The primary is being organized and run entirely by the state's Democratic Party.

  • That's because state-run primaries aren't an option outside the typical election calendar.

Voting is open to anyone registered in the district, but participants are required to sign a loyalty pledge promising to support the eventual nominee.

Voting won't take place at typical polling locations: Participants must travel to one of seven voting locations, four of which are in the Richmond area.

Worth noting: In addition to frontrunners McClellan and Morrissey, two other candidates will appear on the ballot:

  • Joe Preston, a Petersburg attorney and former state delegate.
  • Tavorise K. Marks, an insurance agent who previously served as vice president of the Chesterfield NAACP.

๐Ÿ—ณ What's next: Ballots won't be counted until Wednesday morning and results aren't expected until early afternoon.

3: The Current: โ˜•๏ธ Starbucks settles with local barista

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

๐Ÿ’ธ Starbucks agreed to rehire and back pay $7,000 in wages to a shift supervisor at its Arthur Ashe Boulevard store who alleged he was fired for supporting a unionization effort. (WRIC)

โš–๏ธ A jury awarded $4 million in damages to the family of a state prisoner who died of heart failure after being denied medical care. (Times-Dispatch)

  • It's one of the largest verdicts of its kind in Virginia.

๐Ÿงช VCU for the first time made the National Science Foundation's list of the 50 largest public colleges for research. (Times-Dispatch)

๐Ÿฅƒ Virginia ABC plans to remodel its last three counter-service stores in the state, where customers interact with clerks through bulletproof glass. (Virginia Mercury)

  • Two of the stores are in Richmond and one is in Petersburg โ€” both in predominantly Black neighborhoods.

4. โ™ป๏ธ Repurposing Carvana's "vending machines"

So many options. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Carvana, the online used-car dealership known for multistory, transparent car "vending machines," is struggling, Axios' Michael Mooney reports.

Driving the news: After laying off 1,500 employees recently, the company is preparing for a potential restructuring.

Of note: After a nearly two-year delay, the company opened its Chesterfield inspection center in August with 240 employees and plans to have 400 by the end of the year.

  • A company spokesperson tells Axios that plan is unchanged, but declined to provide updated employment numbers.

The big picture: This got us thinking โ€” if Carvana goes under, what could we do with those vending machine buildings?

  • We have some incredibly realistic suggestions.

๐Ÿธ A multilevel bar, where the drinks get fancier as you go up.

๐Ÿช‚ Skydiving; it'll save us the trip to Virginia Beach.

๐Ÿ› An amazing waterslide.

๐ŸŽฐ A casino where the stakes go up the higher you get; perhaps the one location we can all agree on.

๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŒพ A vertical garden.

๐Ÿšฒ A vending machine for e-bikes and scooters.

๐Ÿข A workspace where every office is a corner office; take that, bosses.

๐Ÿฆœ An incredible aviary.

๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ A rotating art installation.

๐Ÿ˜ฌ Confederate statue storage.

Take your career to the next level

๐Ÿ’ผ Check out whoโ€™s hiring on our Job Board.

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5. ๐ŸŽ„ 1 vintage Christmas photo to go

Broad street at Christmas in 1965
Image courtesy of The Valentine, Reinier Hendriksen Photograph Collection

In a certain era in Richmond's history, Christmas meant hitting Thalhimers and Miller & Rhoads department stores on Broad Street.

This circa-1965 shot is from The Valentine museum's photo archives.

Thanks to Fadel Allassan for editing and Lisa Hornung for copy editing this newsletter.

๐Ÿ˜ญ Karri spent way too much time yesterday trying to find a great Snow Bear or Santaland picture to no avail.

๐Ÿฅช Ned is reading about a $65 short rib sandwich in D.C. and wondering what the most expensive sandwich in Richmond is. Any leads?