Norfolk's Grow sparks plans to open a four-story office campus in downtown Norfolk

Norfolk’s Grow sparks plans to open a four-story office campus in downtown Norfolk

A massive four-story office campus could be landing in the middle of downtown Norfolk.
Norfolk digital creative agency Grow has announced ambitious plans for its newest endeavor, Assembly , to renovate a more than 100,000-square-foot building.
The company’s CEO Drew Ungvarsky announced the plans for Assembly on Wednesday and called it an “iconic building campus and community of inspiring creators and technology innovators” in the announcement.
“An adaptive reuse project, it will restore three historic department store buildings to their original beauty, and connect them together as a modern office and community hub,” the announcement stated.
Assembly would purchase the city-owned building at 400 Granby St., which is currently home to four city departments. The building safety department was already relocated and two other departments “will be relocated over the coming months,” according to Norfolk spokeswoman Lori Crouch.
Pet store and groomer Muddy Paws is also located in the building. Crouch said the business was given a 90-day termination notice, per the lease agreement.
“We are working with the owner on whatever next steps she would like to take,” she said in an email to The Virginian-Pilot.
Muddy Paws co-owner Angela Owens said the city told them that no financial assistance would be available to help relocate the business and that they could probably find a place for the business in Selden Market or two other locations downtown.
Muddy Paws moved into the building in 2016 as part of the city’s Vibrant Spaces program, which offered $20,000 and rent relief to attract retailers to six spaces ranging from 500 to 7,000 square feet downtown.
Donations and a downtown property tax assessment paid for the Downtown Norfolk Council grants, and tenants received a rental discount of 50 percent for the first two years and 25 percent for the third year.
The business has been in the location for a little more than two years. A lease renewal was signed in December when the city added the 90-day termination amendment, according to Owens.
The location at 400 Granby St. wasn’t the first choice for Muddy Paws through the program, but the city insisted they take that particular spot, she said.
“The city paid for us to come down there. It just doesn’t make sense for them to terminate,” she said.
“We don’t have the funds to do another build-out and move all that stuff. We could possibly come up with the funds to move it but not do the build-out.”
Owens and her business partner Maryann Jacobson have invested around $100,000 into the downtown location, she said.
The city offered free rent for the 90-day period, Jacobson said.
In January 2016, Ungvarsky, who served on the Vibrant Spaces committee, told The Virginian-Pilot that the rental discount enabled new and different businesses to fill downtown spaces, instead of tenants who could pay market rent but didn’t do anything to make downtown more active.
Now he’s filling more of that space himself.
Renovations to the building would be completed in two phases and Assembly would open in 2020.
“Council will vote on the deal April 9 so until then, we are unable to discuss it,” Crouch said. “If approved, closing will take place within 90 days of the vote.”
Both Grow and Crouch declined to comment further on the plans until the deal is approved.
Assembly will be an independent company headed by Ungvarsky and Grow’s CFO Bryan Campbell.
Plans include a large rooftop deck, a recording and podcast booth, meeting rooms, an event space, a game room, shower facilities, a library, phone booths, a kitchen, a wellness and mother’s room, and bike share and storage.
Offices in subdivided space will be at least 1,500 square feet and suites will be between 300 to 1,000 square feet. The tenants will will be on long-term leases of three to 10 years. A small number of desks will be available to rent for one-year leases.
Assembly is also seeking a 2,000-square-foot “one-of-a-kind restaurant” to serve lunch, dinner and drinks and a 350-square-foot coffee shop.
About 50,000 square feet of space including the rooftop penthouse, marquis and atrium will be completed in the first phase along Granby Street. The second phase will include 53,000 square feet of space along Freemason Street and Monticello Avenue.
The idea for the plans was prompted by Grow’s company growth, which has increased to more than 50 employees, and the creative and technology communities being “spread out” across the region, the statement said.
Along with Grow, Assembly has found three other tenants for the building so far — Norfolk architecture firm Work Program Architects, Norfolk creative agency Sway Creative Labs, and Virginia Beach video agency Flagship Visuals.
Grow is also looking for a tenant to rent the company’s current location at 427 Granby St.
Briana Adhikusuma, 757-222-5349,

After He Certified As An Accountant

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Moms: This Text Service is Your New Personal Shopper and BFF

Moms: This Text Service is Your New Personal Shopper and BFF
Have you heard of Jetblack ? It’s a new concierge service for moms that’s basically like a having a personal shopper or assistant whenever you have an urgent or last-minute need (so, like, all the time).
Just used the second to last diaper? Text “J”—the nickname for your digital assistant—and a fresh supply of Honest Company diapers will be couriered straight to your door. Have a question about the right crib mattress for your growing toddler? Again, text “J” for help and she’ll send some suggestions. During the on-boarding process, you’ll tell J all your kids ages, along with brand and size preferences, so you can shorthand with her from then on.
Since right now the service is only available in New York and Brooklyn (with more cities expected to come soon), I asked my friend Rachel—who’s Brooklyn-based and a new mom—to give it a whirl just in time for a bit of inclement winter weather. They sent a selection of self-care essentials straight to her door so she could have the full Jetblack pampering experience, see the quality of brands they offer, and check out the delivery process. Self-Care, Delivered
Here’s what was included in the drop-off, packaged together as a gift in a jet black-hued bag (natch): There was Pure Eucalyptus Oil ShowerMist from Eurospa Aromatics, Quinn popcorn with real butter and sea salt , a cleansing balm from BeautyCounter, a pair of plush and cozy socks , and, finally, a Hot Fire-scented candle from Olfactory NYC.
Not a bad way to spend a snow day. Will put to use while the baby is napping, she texted me.
So, while her 13-month-old snoozed, she got to work. First up, the shower mist: Just three spritzes into the steam as soon as the water gets hot and your bathroom is filled with the restorative aroma of eucalyptus, exactly what a new mom needs to clear her head. ( Alas, my husband immediately swiped this to soothe his congested sinuses, Rachel reported.) Post-shower, she lit the Hot Fire-scented candle, which she reported smelled precisely like a crackling blaze in the fireplace. For her, it was a nice way to pretend she was sitting fireside in her (fireplace-less) Brooklyn apartment.
Next, she tested the cleansing balm from BeautyCounter (a clean beauty brand that I’m a huge fan of) and put on the warm pair of new socks, which look as luxe as they are purported to be. As for the popcorn, Rachel saved that for a movie night the following weekend: It had just the right amount of sea salt and butter to feel like a treat.
The cost to subscribe is $50 per month, plus the price of any goods purchased. Not a bad deal when you consider that it covers personal shopping and same or next day deliveries all month for anything you could possibly need… including gift wrapping if that’s in order. Errands, Handled
I also did a bit of texting with J about gift ideas for an upcoming tween birthday party for a girl who likes horses, and a baby shower I had coming up for a mom who likes designer clothes. All the gift ideas they suggested were on budget, thoughtful and stylish enough for me to pass them off as my own. And while I’m currently out of the delivery range, it was interesting to put Jetblack’s research team to the test and see the caliber of the products they might suggest. (I could even send a picture of a T-shirt, a book, or a toy and they’ll do their best to source and find it. Impressive.)
Jetblack was founded by Jenny Fleiss (above), within Walmart’s incubator for innovative retail companies . Smart, since it’s the kind of service that could benefit from having a large retailer on speed dial. Prior to Jetblack, Fleiss co-founded Rent the Runway, which makes designer dresses rentable, another genius idea. All this plus, of course, she’s a mom, so she gets it— and by “it” I mean that new-mom helplessness you feel when you pluck your last wipe out of the tub at 9am, and you can’t see your way out of pyjamas, let alone down to the drug store to get some more. Sure, it’s a luxury play— not everyone has $50 to burn each month on a delivery service— but for those of us new moms with no help and lots to do, it could be a literal godsend, and a fraction of what a human personal shopper might cost.
I love that the twin goals of this service seem to be taking care of mom and taking care of business for mom. To have a kit of indulgent items be dropped off at my door took all the hard work out of self-care. And the idea that a new mom can make errands happen by texting requests anytime— saving her the hassle—is really a game-changer.
A Jetblack sample delivery was provided for this review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Matthias Goerne ~ Adams: The Wound-Dresser

Matthias Goerne ~ Adams: The Wound-Dresser
Above: baritone Matthias Goerne
~ Author: Oberon
Thursday March 21st, 2019 – This long-awaited concert featured The New York Philharmonic ‘s Artist-in-Residence Matthias Goerne singing one of my favorite 20th-century vocal works: John Adams’ The Wound-Dresser . Music by Charles Ives and Johannes Brahms was also on the bill, with the orchestra’s Music Director, Jaap van Zweden, on the podium.
Charles Ives’ mysterious Central Park in the Dark made for a strangely fascinating program-opener. If you’ve ever walked across The Park at night, this atmospheric and slightly creepy music – which at first drifts by like a cool nocturnal mist – perfectly summons up the surreal feeling of being alone in the huge City.
The sound of Pascual Martínez-Forteza’s clarinet introduces a human element; the trumpet and a pair of pianos come into play, and there is a boisterous, off-kilter rendering of ” My Ragtime Gal ” and a noisy battering of percussion that makes you want to call 311. Then, slowly, the music fades into a dream.
Mr. Goerne then appeared for John Adams’ The Wound-Dresser. This work was composed for and premiered by the late, great American baritone Sanford Sylvan in 1989. The texts are from Walt Whitman’s poem of the same title. The poet took on the task of visiting the sick and dying soldiers in hospitals during the time of the Civil War.
Composer John Adams said of this poem: “…(it) is the most intimate, most graphic, and most profoundly affecting evocation of the act of nursing the sick and dying that I know of. It is also astonishingly free of any kind of hyperbole or amplified emotion, yet the detail of the imagery is of a precision that could only be attained by one who had been there.”
Mr. Goerne’s interpretation of this poignant work had an almost operatic feeling. One could say that his English diction had a ‘British accent’; for the most part, his enunciation was admirable, whilst overhead titles filled in any blanks. The sound of a dropped item in the audience at the very outset of the piece was the worst kind of intrusion, but Maestro van Zweden would not be deterred.
The music at first evokes the tread of the nurse, walking the wards. Mr. Goerne’s voice at the start was deep and dark; the baritone’s great gift of a vast dynamic range meant that he could bring a haunting, unexpected pianissimo into the turning of a phrase, At some moments, feelings of anger rose in the voice: a righteous anger over the death and despair of war.
The poignant descent of the basses before ” I onward go “, the sheer lyric beauty of Goerne’s ” One turns to me …”, and the unbearable tenderness of “… to die for you, if that would save you! “: these were but a few of the memorable moments in this moving performance. The singer’s powers of expression as he describes horrific afflictions, his passionate distress – leading to the haunting ” Come, sweet death. ..” – and the miraculous sustained piano at “… in mercy …” draw us deeper and deeper into the poet’s thoughts.
The lamenting violins, the deep-purple basses, the celesta-like intimations of angel wings, the plaintive high trumpet as the wounds are described – from these the music builds to a flood of anguish, to be overtaken by the high violins and their vision of heavenly rest. Surrounded by suffering, the nurseman sings: ” I am faithful. I do not give out .”
The music grows huge, the voice now with an almost demented quality. Mindy Kaufman’s flute sounds forth, and the woodwinds take on the aspect of a choir. Mr. Goerne’s singing, so perfectly modulated, is heartbreaking. The gleaming trumpet sounds, the music rises on high.
In the watches of the night, the poet/nurse sits by the dying men: ” Some are so young. Some suffer so much .” And at the end, his story becomes personal: ” Many a soldier’s loving arms about this neck have cross’d and rested. Many a soldier’s kiss dwells on these bearded lips .”
A long silence followed this most moving performance. The composer joined Mr. Goerne and Maestro van Zweden onstage, with Mr. Adams summoning the orchestra’s principal trumpet, Christopher Martin, to rise for a bow. As so often after a memorable musical experience, part of me wanted to leave and hold onto the memory of it.
But, following the interval, we heard a lustrous performance of Brahms’ Symphony No.1 . It took Brahms nearly fifteen years to compose this, his his first symphony. He continually made revisions throughout this time-span, discarding pages, editing, and starting over from scratch. At the time of the premiere, Brahms worried whether anyone would like the finished work. But Hans von Bülow – a composer, conductor and pianist, just like Brahms – referred to the symphony as ‘Beethoven’s Tenth’. High praise indeed: and Brahms, now feeling confident after a positive public reception, wrote a second symphony the following year.
Another “dropped item” made an unwanted dent in the score as the symphony began; I notice that people are now allowed to bring water bottles into the hall, and possibly these are contributing to what seems to be an increasing annoyance of extraneous sounds spoiling the music we’ve all come to hear.
The first movement of the Brahms 1st was especially wonderful to experience tonight. Flautist Robert Langevin and clarinetist Anthony McGill were in for the concert’s second half, making beautiful music. The blended sound of the orchestra was so finely integrated, the horns sounded opulent, and the sense of longing in the music as the movement progressed was palpable.
The Andante sostenuto , with Sherry Sylar’s lovely oboe solo, the satiny sound of the rising violin theme, Mr. McGill’s pliant phrasing of the clarinet line, and Richard Deane’s velvety horn all highlighted the Autumnal beauty of the music. The ensuing Poco allegretto feels merely pleasant at first, but soon turns livelier. Again, Mr. McGill – and the Philharmonic’s grand bass players – gave much for us to enjoy.
Sneaky plucking made a delightful impression in the concluding movement, wherein the horn, flute, and a brass choir each have their say before the familiar tune commences, carrying us on to the work’s vibrant finish.
Under Maestro van Zweden’s leadership, The Philharmonic tonight played the Brahams as magnificently as I have ever heard them play anything – and that is saying a great deal. The sound was rich, profound, and heartfelt. The symphony unfolded naturally, unhurried but always alive, leading to a celebratory ovation at the end.
~ Oberon

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One Response

  1. Garfield September 26, 2019

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