RICHMOND, Va. — With Richmond’s new bus rapid transit system up and running after two years of construction, an effort to help businesses affected by the project is progressing – with a different approach than initially planned.
Funds originally approved to assist individual businesses along the GRTC Pulse bus line now are being divvied among four sections of the route, awarded to business associations or neighborhood groups that are determining how their shares will be used to their respective area’s benefit.
In June, City Council approved putting $280,000 in funds left over from the project toward beautification and parking improvements to help businesses affected by the project’s construction, which lasted eight months longer than planned.
The additional time meant contractor Lane Construction missed out on financial incentives that were to be awarded if the Pulse was completed by the end of last year. The $280,000 came from that pot, with City Councilwoman Kim Gray pushing for those funds to go toward assistance for businesses.
Gray said her original goal was to compensate restaurants and shops that lost business – or in some cases went out of business – during construction, but that plan met pushback from city officials and Mayor Levar Stoney, who she said encouraged a broader approach.
“The mayor was not agreeable to direct grants,” Gray said. “Levar said he didn’t want to set a precedent that any of these construction projects would create a need to compensate businesses.
“It’s too complicated to figure out each business’s individual losses and how much of that can be contributed to the construction,” she said. “Several of the businesses are no longer around, especially down in Shockoe Bottom and certain stretches of Broad Street, so how would you even compensate those businesses that no longer exist?”