Healthy Foods and “Hope” to Richmond’s East End
Borrower : Market at 25th and Hope Pharmacy
Where : Richmond, VA
Loan Amount : $1.5 million (Market) and $150,000 (Pharmacy)
Project Type : Fresh Food Loan Fund (VFFLF), SBA 7(a) term loan, SBA Express Line of Credit
The Market at 25th ranks among Richmond’s most anticipated economic development projects in recent times. The Church Hill development, with backing by prominent business and civic leaders, will bring a much-needed grocery store and healthy foods to a food desert and one of the most socioeconomically challenged neighborhoods in the country.
The Market at 25th is one part of a larger commercial development in the East End, called Church Hill North, which includes retail spaces, apartments, and a new culinary school operated by J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. The Market will offer fresh and locally sourced produce, aisles with everyday needs, a salad and hot bar, grab-and-go meals, a full-service meat and seafood counter, and a pharmacy (more on that later). This store is the only full-service grocery store in the neighborhood, and is surrounded by more than a dozen convenience stores – places where many who live in the area and lack transportation shop for everyday items.
In addition to the Market at 25th, VCC has financed the in-store Hope Pharmacy and its owner-operator, Dr. Shantelle Brown.
Brown, a Richmond-born Pharm.D., once worked for Edloe’s Professional Pharmacy on N. 25th St. in Church Hill, which closed in 2012. She is excited and proud to open her own pharmacy in the same neighborhood where her career started, bringing an important amenity back to the area. Her close connections to several faith-based organizations in Church Hill, local schools, and prominent healthcare systems will help bring in new business from the neighborhood and throughout the region.
For The Market at 25th, VCC support came in the form of a $1.5 million equipment loan to purchase refrigerators and freezers, deli cases and carvers, ovens, hot and cold bars, and cases for the produce section. Seen as a critical development for the region and the city, the project financing was partially funded by VCC’s 2017 Healthy Food Financing Initiative grant. VCC supports the Virginia Fresh Food Loan Fund with earmarked dollars to address the unmet capital needs of healthy food enterprises throughout rural and urban regions in Virginia.
For Hope Pharmacy, VCC offered Brown, the operator, a Small Business Administration-backed 7(a) loan to build out the pharmacy and purchase equipment and furniture. VCC also helped Brown acquire an additional SBA Express line of credit for working capital, payroll, and inventory. In addition, VCC has offered technical assistance and support to Brown for the pharmacy’s branding and marketing needs, financial modeling, and connections to partners who will continue to support her after the store opens.
“We are proud to offer our financial and advisory support to these two critically important projects for the neighborhood,” says Matthew Ho, a small business loan officer at VCC who oversaw the loans. “Both the Market at 25th and Hope Pharmacy are highly aligned to our mission at VCC of creating vibrant places that promote access to a higher and healthier quality of life for all people.”
VCC is a Top 20 SBA-Preferred Lending Partner in Virginia, and we can use our authority to expedite the approval process for these federally backed loans. Loan officers like Mr. Ho are trained in SBA eligibility and can save time upfront on structuring the best option for borrowers such as Hope Pharmacy.
The Market at 25th and Hope Pharmacy represent a big moment for Richmond. We congratulate the teams for their vision and celebrate these important and imperative additions to the community.
The Market at 25th will fill a prominent void for healthy foods, providing access to fresh foods at a reasonable price point. In addition, the market is planning many in-store engagement events, such as farm-to-table dinners, festivals, music, guest chefs, wine pairings and beer dinners, and much more.
The minority-and-woman-owned Hope Pharmacy, meanwhile, will serve the needs of low- and no-income residents of the East End, while catering to middle- and higher-income families from the area. Brown and her team also plan to promote wellness through health fairs and educational sessions on medications, disease, and immunizations.