by Leah Small
Is Carytown going corporate? Capital One is the latest national company with plans to set up shop in the longtime bastion of local retail.
The concept is nontraditional -- a blend of coffee shop, technology and banking services.
Capital One has floated plans to open another in a series of banking centers that it calls cafes at the location of the Secco Wine Bar -- which is leaving for the former Buddy's in the Fan. The cafe also will take over the Sheppard Street Antiques space behind Secco and an acupuncture practice above it.
Bill Bridgforth, who owns the parcel, says Capital One will be leasing the properties and says that the bank intends to employ a multi-use concept that it has established in Boston. A company representative said that Capital One will discuss plans publicly in a few weeks.
Capital One has five such cafes in Boston, and six others in major U.S. cities, according to the company’s website. But Bridgforth says he doesn’t know whether the properties will be demolished in favor of new construction or re-purposed. The bank would have the advantage of using a large parking lot in the block.
Bridgforth says that the company will take possession of the parcel July 1. A company representative says that Capital One will be ready to speak publicly about the plans in a few weeks.
A Capital One cafe could take Richmonders by surprise. If you’re expecting to open a checking account, make a withdrawal or take out a loan, you’d be mistaken, according to a report in Boston.com.
The news site says that the coffee branches are focused on introducing patrons to the company’s online banking system. The teller baristas apparently serve espressos and help customers set up online accounts and learn about bank services. Those who want to make deposits are given stamped envelopes to mail to the bank or guided through downloading smartphone apps to deposit electronically.
Word has gotten out that Capital One is coming to Carytown. Some of the corridor’s retailers and restaurateurs say they're concerned that the shopping and eating destination, which prides itself on local offerings, is going in a more corporate direction.
Wells Fargo has a banking branch in the 3200 block. There’s also a Verizon coming to the old location of the Helping Hands veterinary practice, which is adjacent to a McDonald’s. A Subway, 7-Eleven and Smoothie King have been in the area for years.
“It’s changing the dynamic of Carytown,” says Olivia Lloyd, who works at Bygones Vintage Clothing, nestled next to the Byrd Theatre.
Sara Garza, who has leased 103 S. Sheppard St. to run her antique store for 20 years, says that the Capital One deal was unexpected. She says she’s looking for a building to purchase in the area but says that it’s hard to find properties to purchase in Carytown.
But Garza remains optimistic about the future of her business, she says: “Last year was the best year we’ve ever had and we’re growing.”
Julia Battaglini has rented part of 2933 W. Cary St. since 1998, when she first opened River City Cellars. The store later became an event space for the larger Secco nearly two years after the wine bar opened in 2010.
Battaglini says that the changes won’t affect her much because the business is slated to move this summer. She will lease the new Fan spot, at 325 N. Robinson St., from developer Charlie Diradour. Ann Furniss, who runs the acupuncture practice above Secco, plans to sublet an office in the Acupuncture Clinic of Richmond, at 4801 Hermitage Road. She's making the move after 15 years of business in Carytown.
The Secco and Sheppard Street properties are listed under separate addresses but are located in the same building. The property has a combined land and building value of about $1.1 million, with square footage of 4,800.