Photo scanned from The Architecture of Historic Richmond (1976) by Paul S. Dulaney.
John M – congrats on having that book! I used to have two copies, loaned one out and never got it back, now have one but it will never be loaned out because it’s chock full of great photos like this one! Thanks, once again, for all you do!
BTW I voted for CHPN, hope you win an award!
The 12 *very* long days of Christmas video is GREAT!! WONDERFUL! I’d add a comment about it, but that means I have to log into flickr (too much trouble right now), so here’s my comment – GREAT, hope to see another one next year!
And I hope that Ziggy the daschsund has come home, since the ad about him is now gone!
lots of activity going on at the laundromat today!!
Karen – cool, I hope it has a positive outcome and not another demolition.
what a splendid shot!
“I hope it has a positive outcome and not another demolition.”
Demolition *is* a positive outcome compared to an abandoned, run-down structure that is nought but a squat for vagrants.
Now, could there be outcomes more positive than demolition? Of course. However, don’t pretend that the elimination of another blighted property isn’t a step in the right direction.
In an historic district where you have a series of structures that make up a strong streetscape, demolition is never a positive. That building is as much a part of this neighborhood as anyone living here, today. Would you shoot a neighbor because they are old and infirmed and are not productive in society? I think not. The same is true for a building, which, unlike an older person, can be given new life and made productive. If that corner building would be demolished, what would you like in its place? A Brandermill house? A Burger King? Some people just don’t get it when it comes to living in, and appreciating, an historic neighborhood. cgoblen is obviously one of them. If this building is worthy of attention by architectural historians over the last 60 years. obviously there is some merit in saving it.
This building (401 N 27th Street) was constructed in 1815 by Capt Charles Wills. It was originally a grocery store – one of the first in the city. Wills also built our house on the same block in 1812. This photo was taken when Charlie Johnson still owned it until building codes closed it a couple years ago and since then purchased by Patrick Murray who lives in DC. The intention is to put another Landromat in it but structurally the building is not very sound and after being gutted, left to the elements and only gotten worse over time. New engineering plans were presented on December 26th and approved by the city for the building to be stabilized and that is what was going on today. Future plans and $$$ to renovate the building will be coming in the future. It was listed as the oldest business building in the city and hate to see it demolished. It will take a lot of time and effort to renovate a building that was built with nearly 200 year old bricks. I am keeping an eye on the project!
At the risk of being labeled a heretic, I think this bulding (once renovated) would be a great place to locate another neighborhood restaurant/bar — upscale of course. Something in the same vein as The Hill Cafe or Acapella. Or, maybe a wine bar with relaxing atmosphere.
I realize that a lot of folks in Church Hill are petrified of the neighborhood becoming another Fan, but we are so far from that, I’m not worried. With the limited commercial space we have in the neighborhood, we need businesses that will help create a community atmoshpere. With the demise of Jumpin’ J’s, obviously there are some hurdles to overcome, but I think this location would be better than J’s. It’s proximity to The Hill Cafe and Buzzy’s probably would help more than hurt — people are used to coming to this part of the neighborhood, whereas J’s old spot was … let’s face it … a little sketchier.
Does anyone else have any ideas what this space could/should be used for?
tagging onto Eric’s comment: Old Richmond Grocery Stores
archie, you said “Jâ€™s old spot was â€¦ letâ€™s face it â€¦ a little sketchier.” The partners of “Inner City Blues” say they want to open their upscale restaurant/jazz lounge across the street from the former Jumpin J’s. Your assessment of J’s old location being sketchy concerns me. Presumably, you are middle class and upscale in your taste. Would you come to a “Jazz Lounge” at E. Leigh and Jefferson Avenue?
I can wait a few years for someone to fix up an abandoned, run-down structure, but demolition is permanent. You will never get that building back once it is gone.
Also, I think any restaurant will have a tough time staying open in the area if they are not on Broad Street or 25th Street.
I think the idea of a restaurant at 401 is a great idea. Keep in mind that the four corners at 27th and Marshall have always been businesses of some sort. The building where Charlie lives in use to be the Nolde’s Bread outlet, the “large machine” Laundromat was the 27th Street Inn (restaurant), and the old building was a Radio store before a Laundromat. There even was a gas station on the corner of 28th and Marshall in Prichard Bros. parking lot.
“Also, I think any restaurant will have a tough time staying open in the area if they are not on Broad Street or 25th Street.”
True, especially with the parking situation. Back in the 1940s-1960s, people only had one car per household – if that. On street parking wasn’t as big of an issue and people not in such a rush to speed down the street. Then the gas station at 28th and Marshall brought in business from Broad – no longer there. And the building at 325 N 27th (the old 27th Street Inn, one of the 4 corners) may be better set up for food service than renovating 401 as one? So what small business outside of a Laundromat could go there? It is zoned for business, not residential.
Some thoughts for very simple, straight-forward businesses that would fare well at 28th and Marshall… A prepared foods take out business. ( Similar to Strawberry Street Market…minus the grocery and convenience items–space constraints). Entrees, side items, salads ,desserts…fully prepared heat and eat.
It’s quick and convenient, fairly inexpensive and just what many working professionals in the area would warm up to.
No dine-in capacity…take out only. A very well run “essentials” convenience store. Law, real estate, insurance offices. Takeout foods of most any nature (burgers and fries or subs or pizza or Mexican, etc. The key is to keep the offering very simple, limit the core offering, keep it inexpensive–that will draw lots of footsteps. These locations are going to have to go for volume first before the area is recognized as an option for other “upscale” ventures.
how about a ‘white guy’ shop? it could sell wars, bigotry and sexism, and discount hate.
oh but wait… maybe the neighborhood is too ‘sketchy’.
Is there a moderator for this list? The comments are starting to stray to absurd.
William, I am thinking that because of the parking restrictions, whatever business that opens there needs to be low volume rather than high volume. I believe zone codes also dictate that as well? These buildings were built during a time when local stores were essential to communities – like it being a grocery store within walking distance. Even when it was Hudson’s TV and Radio during the early days of both. Now everything is accessible at the mall via automobile.
If Murray ends up selling his money pit, who ever purchases it will have to go in thinking of it as a “historic” building and an investment rather than a stand-alone business. The Laundromat lasted so long because it was a low volume venture for locals and low overhead for Charlie. Old fashioned bars and inns have been replaced with places like Buzzy’s, Hill, etc… more trendy and upscale. Even new bars in the bottom don’t seem to last very long. And you don’t want too many of the “same” kind of businesses clustered together or it will fail.
Your mentioning it being a Law Office hits home since I work at one downtown and know there are some satellite offices for a few firms but wasn’t the building across from Exxon on 18th Street behind the Bath House building, supposed to have been the same but still remains vacant? Yet someone like an established law firm would have the funds to make the building right. It is a touchy situation.
#15…Huh? I think that ranks right up there as one of the dumbest, most irrelevant posts that I’ve seen in a while.
Anyway…. a great business knows nothing of bigotry, sexism, race, or war… All that matters is a great product that fulfills a need, respect for the customer, employee and community, leadership, service and price. Everybody’s money is welcome! Hummm…Starbucks comes to mind…spend some time and watch who their customer is. They know no boundaries.
Eric…I think we agree more than disagree. Let me elaborate a bit more on the thought.
My comments are geared more to the business owner’s survival. Let’s say, for example, that the owner needs to generate gross sales of $1000.00 per day in order to survive. He could build his model to sell an average transaction of $50.00 to 20 customers per day–realtively…low volume (of footsteps throughout the day) to make $1000.00 gross. Or….he could build a model to sell about 100 customers about $10.00 per transaction to make $1000.00 gross.( high volume for a two man shop).
I think the second scenario is much more realistic in this area at this time. Businesses that operate in such small spaces with “small” revenue streams have to have a very limited staff but the logistics of the business have to be simple enough for a limited crew to execute without burnout. Meaning…a simple product offering, limited operational hours, high product margins, limited waste, fulfills a community need,
priced according to demographics. Any concept that invites people to stay and linger would be a financial mistake at this time IMHO. That would rule out any type of restaurant, bar, cafe, lounge. Every square inch of a small footprint location has got to be about revenue generation. That’s why I’m leaning toward something that would be “get ’em in, get ’em out (quickly) would work well. Here’s another idea…a barber shop…it fits the criteria.
I think current zoning in the area would not be a issue for any of the above referenced concepts.
William, I get what you are saying. Just worried if you can get 100+ people per day in a business located off the beaten track? And the building is relatively small with a second floor. Parking would be in front of residences and people now complain if someone takes their space in front of the house!
“Hereâ€™s another ideaâ€¦a barber shopâ€¦it fits the criteria.”
There are already 2 barber shops side by side right behind the building on Marshall and I am afraid not “legitimate” businesses from what activity we have seen years past. No “barber” traffic but still there… if you know what I mean… hmmmm?????
The numbers referenced are strictly for the purpose of formulating an example of what is fairly realistic. I do think that Church Hill could support a “legitimate” and aesthetically pleasing Barber Shop.
Great margins…it’s a service that costs very little to offer. Let’s say we are looking at a 2 man shop to generate $600.00 per day. This is doable and could provide a decent living for the owner. Each barber charges $14.00 a cut, and sees about 21 customers each in an 8 hour day. That’s about 5-6 customers per hour. Not that much of a strain on the neighborhood parking situation and still provides a decent revenue stream to support the business and the owner. I bet most of the guys in this neighborhood are traveling outside of it to get a haircut. It’s a need we all have but there is no legitimate service currently offered–Right?
That is true… I travel to the West End to get mine cut. There are some downtown with limited hours but nothing “local”. Again, I have seen beauty salons (one at Clay and 25th closed and one on Marshall at 21st with zero seen traffic) and of course the questionable barber shop(s) but no visible traffic to justify their existence other than the proprietor owns and probably lives in the building.
Demographics also play here too.
Yup….but, just one example of a very realistic and viable business plan that could work in these locations. I can think of about 50 others. The common theme is that they are all very narrowly focused on a simple product offering or service. Many small businesses fail because they try to get too broad and it complicates both the financial plan and logistics. Keep it very simple. We all get haircuts very frequently…we all eat…every day. Think of all the things we do daily that we leave the neighborhood to acquire. There-in lies the business opportunity.
The area where J’s was was sketchier than 401 N. 27th. That’s not a racial assessment, it’s the plain truth. J’s neigborhood is in closer proximity to more crime (open air drug deals, prostitution, gun violence). There are more dilapidated buildings. And there are more people loitering about. 401 N. 27th is closer to (although certainly on the fringe of) dense concentrations of renovated homes and existing upscale businesses (Buzzy’s & The Hill Cafe). It is also closer to Broad, which will be important in getting non-Church Hill residents to patronize it. If you interpret “sketchy” as a racial comment, I will suggest that says more about your preconceptions than my intent.
Elaine — The “sketchiness” J’s neighborhood wouldn’t stop me from going to a jazz lounge any more than it would have stopped me from going to J’s. But, it probably would have an effect. My wife and I probably didn’t go to J’s as much as we would have otherwise (we did go occasionally, though) because of concerns about safety after dark. That’s not to say that I think that the area is awful, but it probably had an affect, particularly when we had the tot in tow. I imagine that the affect on West Enders and other traditional Richmonders would be more pronounced.
For a business in this area to be successful, it needs both communtiy support and acceptance of the greater population. Like it or not, it is a fact that a large portion of the City of Richmond still thinks of Church Hill as a ghetto. To the extent that anyone outside of Church Hill gives the neighborhood any credit, they still largely cling to the North/South of Broad distinction. If any business is going to get people like that to challenge their preconceptions, it will be easier to do so in a place that is located within a block or two of areas that are “OK” in their estimation. 401 N. 27th fits that descritpion, whereas, in my opinion, J’s place did not (despite the fact that it made great food).
Archie B… nice to see yet another logical voice of reason in the neighborhood. Be forewarned about your last post, get ready for a “verbal assault” from the folks who live in denial.
As for the content, I could not agree more. Well said.
i live in the vicinity of J’s, and have for the past 11 years or so. i have never referred to the neighborhood, or for that matter anyone’s neighborhood, as ‘sketchy’. after all, that implies that people who live in the neighborhood themselves are ‘sketchy’, which is insulting at best.
archie’s comment mentions truth when referring to ‘sketchiness’. i would venture that ‘sketchiness’ is a perception, and that perceptions are often not based on truth. that you are afraid to walk these streets at night has nothing to do with reality, to which i can attest.
as an aside take a look at john’s crime map if you like. funny how the closest narcotics violation in the vicinity was in libby hill. pretty sketchy neighborhood huh?
i also like this talk above of the ‘questionable’ businesses we have in church hill. any of you guys ever patronize those places or actually know anything about them? anyone here, besides me, ever do laundry at charlie’s?
i want this neighborhood to improve and grow as much as the next guy. but it should be done without making judgement calls on people and business that have been here long before us. this isn’t about ‘gangway folks, whitey comin’ thru’. neighborhood building is about relationships and bridging gaps between old and new, not pushing others out.
btw, black barbershops have long been a place of conversation and community, not necessarily just haircuts. loitering is encouraged. perhaps if you’d like to build a barbershop in a what is still predominantly black neighborhood, a study of the model might be fruitful. visit one, chat and get to know some folks.
Changing perceptions is tough. It takes a brave soul to challenge perceptions, a braver soul if the perceptions are your own. But it all starts with a conversation.
Ben, Church Hill was even a mixed race neighborhood back in the 1940s. But eventually the buildings were left to plight and more low income blacks took over which began the “ghetto” stigma. Even the house I own was brought down to status of boarding house then partially boarded up by the 1970s. Back in the 80s there was an effort to gentrify the neighborhood and become part of Sty. John’s Historic but residents balked due to tax assessments. Our house was purchased for $18k in 1986 and a mortgage assessment has it now appraised at nearly $1 million for replacement value. More and more homes are being “restored” and going for over $300k and how many low income people do you think can buy them? And how many residence who buy them are going to tolerate blight next door? The house next door to us was owned by slumlord Stanley Smith. There were many families coming and going – many evictions and crime on our street. We couldn’t even sit on our front porch without being harasses and even watched one of the occupants attempt murder in front of our house. They ended up in prison. The house was eventually condemned, Stan died and his son sold the house which was built in 1835. Spencer Budwell bought it and spent hours of his own time personally restoring the house from top to bottom even replicating antique millwork and putting walls back the way they were originally configured. A $20k house is now being sold for over $400k. Times are changing and so is Church Hill one block at a time – moving further in from Broad.
There has already been too many failed “barber and beauty shop” models in Church Hill. If the blacks don’t patronize them and the barbers restrict themselves to ethnic customers only, then how can they stay in business? When we bought the house in 1999, there was a barber shop behind 401 I think referred to Malcolm X and had a sign in the window that they only did ethnic cuts. How outright discriminatory can you get?
As for Charlie and his Laundromats. Yes, we often patronized them for large loads or bedspreads and such. He had been in business for over 40 years at that location until codes closed the doors. He was also sort of an icon on our street and watched our backs (houses). He must have had done something right to keep an established business there for that long and most likely why the new owner wants the same there?
Yes, Church Hill still has an albatross around its neck but the string holding it is fraying apart fast.
Ben, as for black-owned business, I can’t tell you how much I miss seeing Charles Alexander in his Tailor Shop at 2304 East Leigh Street. He’s at home now, resting up from the stroke he had about a year ago.
Charles sewed beautifully & on sunny days he showed us he was absolutely the best dressed man in Union Hill as he strolled along Jefferson Avenue in a well-pressed suit. That was as recently as 2006.
“Loitering” in his shop was strongly encouraged. There were always a bunch of old guys talking politics and watching ballgames on a snowy black and white TV. I could always get a reality check from these venerable seniors on current events like Doug Wilder or the War in Iraq.
You can imagine my SHOCK when a new neighbor (who had just plunked down a record $ amount for a Union Hill home,) asked me if there wasn’t “something shady going on in that tailor shop”.
After I recovered from my fit of laughter, I explained the average age of the fellas was 65, but she could get her slacks hemmed there anytime.
Charles’ wife Alice still stops by the shop to check on things. It’s been a long time since he sewed there. Alice says he wants to come back this Spring. Charles will be a welcome sight…along with all his buddies, “loitering”.
I’m not going to address everything, because I don’t have time but a few points:
1. For the record, I did not use “ghetto” to imply anything about race. Rather, I meant it in the classic sense of “an economically depressed area.”
2. I haven’t checked the Balck’s Law Dictionary definition of “loitering” but, to me, if you’re inside, you’re not loitering. If you’re standing on the sidewalk for an hour or so, you’re loitering.
3. One anecdote, even if it is factual, is not a substitute for data. The fact remains that more drug activity occurs in the general vicinity of J’s old place than at 401 N. 27th.
4. I’ve made no comments about the sketchiness of any businesses. I only commented on the “upscale” Buzzy’s and The Hill Cafe. If you take that as a slam on hardworking local business owners, again, you are projecting your own preconceptions on my comments rather than reading them for what they are. For what it’s worth, I live very close to Buzzy’s and was here when it was the convenience store … I enjoyed the convenience store because it was … well .. convenient. But, It certainly didn’t make people who don’t live up here fell comfortable about coming to the neighborhood. You might even say that the half-dressed manequins in the windows that hadn’t seen new clothes since the Ford administration made the place “sketchy.” It also could have been the spare offerings on the shelves and the less-then-fresh odor.
Archie… when I mentioned “ghetto” in “my” post, I do mean â€œan economically depressed area.â€
When people mention loitering, that also means hanging out inside not conducting business and making paying customers feel uneasy. In fact the bad seed elements that use to live next door to me hung out in Charlie’s Laundromat and harassed customers so he had to throw them out more than once. I am sure that happens all over the area and has to stop to draw new customers.
Those “illegitimate” barber shops I mentioned behind 401 on Marshall St. – there has been shady activity going on there including gun running out of trunks. Neighbors walking their dog saw it happen a couple years back and was threatened not for them to walk the dog their way again. There are new signs in the window of one that showed up within the past 2 weeks and again, the doors are never opened and zero activity. I am sure there is some business going on there – just no hair on the floor.
I am not saying that a black owned and operated business could not survive. Just that it has to be a bit upscale and inviting to all races. And not something that is locked in or related to any one specific race.
As for the older gentleman tailor, are his buddies a mixed crowd or all black? That can make a difference for skiddish white customers.
To be up front, honest and open… a couple more commens about proposed black business in Church Hill and surrounding areas…
If you have only black employees and a black crowd loitering around, white customers will question if this is a black only business, a business that caters only to blacks, or if they will receive equal service being white. If the tailor only has a black crowd hanging around, maybe that is the impression he is trying to project elsewise he would have better work ethics to be more inviting to whites.
I frequent McDonald’s almost every day but I get extremely frustrated by black business owners (this is a franchise store) and managers that only hire blacks and no whites. Why? And the ones they do hire move around as though life if falling off of them. There can be 10 people behind the counter and a line out front but only one register running. Two cars ahead of you in line but takes 10-15 minutes to be served. With the new workers who don’t know me, there is no eye contact, usually no words spoken, no “sorry” for the delay, and no Thank You. That too leaves a bad impression on whites about black workers and work ethics. Would you get the same service at other local black owned businesses? Not necessarily if it is run and managed correctly. Example, Wendy’s at the James Center is mainly an all black crew but work magic to get people in and out quickly. They also cater to a mostly white customer so… management = impression.
The drug activity referenced in Ben’s post that took place in Libby Hill was perped by an individual who certainly did not live in the Libby Hill area. It look place on a vacant lot at 2900 East Franklin (the result of a vehicle stop). The area between 22nd and 31st and Broad and south is one of the safest, crime free areas around. The crime that does happen (break-ins and thefts from autos) is coming from forces that come into the area not flowing from the homes in that neighborhood.
William said: “The crime that does happen (break-ins and thefts from autos) is coming from forces that come into the area not flowing from the homes in that neighborhood.”
That is mostly true. We had 3 cars stolen in front of our house, a bullet shot through the living room window, trash thrown into our yard, grafetti, etc… when the bad seeds lived next door and hung out with a crowd out of the neighborhood and brought them into our block. Once they moved, all activity immediately stopped (except for a couple isolated incidents on the block). There is a woman who lives across the street from me and during that time she said she has lived in that house for 53 years and she never saw anything like that on the block as when that group lived next door to us. That was about 3 years ago now.
Ben, Archie, Eric & William…
Because I have crush on a dapper old guy, (don’t tell my husband) I gotta set the record straight:
1. Mr. Alexander never, ever in any way intended for anyone to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome in his business based on race, gender or ethnicity.
2. He had white customers (other than me; folks who’d recently moved to Union Hill). However, most of his customers (middle class & middle aged men) were black. But ratio of white/black customers was merely a coincidence of the marketplace in Union/Church Hill. Charles had been in business for a long time; years before folks started fixing up houses and moving back to his neighborhood. Many of his black customers had moved away to other parts of town (I’d say hi to guys I knew from the Downtown Y, who had moved to Chesterfield and Henrico, but worked downtown & would come up here to drop off/pick up alterations.)
3. Ok, Charles’ old friends were not loitering…i used that word in quotes because of the barber shop analogy in Ben’s post. The guys were retirees who just needed to get out of the house and spend time with their friends. They were the sweetest men you’d ever meet. How anyone would feel intimidated by them is beyond belief.
4. Now this is the best part: there is only one other person who ever asked me whether “something funny” was going on over at that tailor shop. Now get this, SHE IS BLACK! I guess she thought men (mostly black) going in and out of a neatly kept building seemed suspicious.
5. I don’t disagree with your perception that Jefferson Avenue around Je’s may appear (and appearances are reality for a lot of folks) “sketchier” than other parts of Church Hill. My own business is one block east of Je’s, and I know all too well how unrealistic it is for me to expect brides ‘n babies from the westend to come have their portrait made at my studio. That’s why the majority of my photography happens on location, for corporations and magazines.
5. The epicenter of illegal activity in the Jefferson Avenue corridor is across the street from my business at 24th and Jefferson. It’s the Family Supermarket. I’m not slandering anyone, cause it’s true. The folks who give Jefferson Ave the “sketchy” appearance do loiter at the entrance and on the blocks around the Family Supermarket.
They litter the sidewalk with their trash, urinate, shoot up and turn tricks behind the rear of the building, and basically create a threatening atmosphere for folks who are unfamiliar with the neighborhood. These folks wouldn’t mug or assault you at the store, just might ask you for spare change (and panhandling is intimidating for many folks.)
To be fair, there are a lot of nice people who patronize the Family Supermarket. Some are my neighbors, others not. A lot of folks love the fried chicken and sandwiches. It’s a convenient place to pick up smokes, lotto tickets, or a Pepsi.
The previous manager of the Family Supermarket (when we had the execution style shooting in the 90’s and before it had the “suspicious fire” that briefly closed it down) served time in federal prison for firearm trafficking. The current management simply doesn’t discourage the illegal trade on the street just outside the front door.
But since this thread is about business owners and their race/ethnicity, the owner/operator of the Family Supermarket is Palestinian. He employs a black man, a white man and an Egyptian (I guess that makes him an Arab). Wonder which employee has the crack habit? The white guy.
So you see, we’re really all just GREEN on Jefferson Avenue (Je’s old neighborhood). Everyone is welcome…especially those who aren’t here to buy or sell drugs.
Elaine… the thread is actually supposed to be about the construction/renovation of 401 N 27th building and viable businesses that could go there today but I (and others) did get off track a bit about black businesses in general. I am glad to see that you responded in such a gracious way rather than attack anyone as what has been said could be misconstrued. Thanks!
The days of innocent small town shops with local retiree regulars coming in to chat, read, or play checkers, is a bygone era. Now days if you see any group of people together for more than 10 minutes you start wondering what their motives are. It is a different time and people are becoming more aware of their surroundings.
I echo Eric’s sentiment regarding Elaine and her views of the area. Inner City Blues should be proud to have her as a neighbor. Elaine, Laura Daab(even if I disagree with her on occassion) and the like are reasons positive things get done in the area. We need more just like them.
With the last round of wind storms, there was some more damage done to this building and noticed that the north corner of the front of the building is collapsing more and more. I am afraid the whole corner of the building will come down. It was already weak but now buckling and seperating very bad. I will contact the city again and see what the status is for this building.
Is the building still basically open to the elements?
(windows either missing or intentionally left open)
Yes Mike, still sits as it has for the past 2 years or so. The wooden back section has no roof at all, only outside walls propped up. The brick section is also still open to the elements and nearly 200 year old bricks deteriorate quickly as does the mortar that keeps them together. Water seeps in, expands and freezes. Wind shakes and pushes on the building that has little support and the bricks fall apart. I am going to take a picture of the corner of the building mentioned tomorrow.
In the mean time, I contacted the City Attorney and they will get back to me with whatever they can come up with concerning Patrick Murray and his sluggishness to do anything. He already had an ultimatum to get it fixed or go to court. Makes no sense for someone to buy a historic building they could not afford to restore then let it fall apart.
It has been a while since anything has been done or anyone visited this building for repairs (not since the wall bracing). Mr. Murray had a deadline to submit plans for rebuilding but apparently hasn’t and so the Operations Manager of the Code Enforcement Division has ordered immediately the building to be re-inspected and a report given to him within 48-hours with ” All possibilities of resolution including but not limited to legal action, spot blight legislation and/or emergency city demolition.”
I am hoping it doesn’t come down to demolition being a historic building but it has been owned by Murray since 2004 and open to the elements from gutting for about as long causing the walls to fall apart. One support corner of the building has buckled and cracked open wide enough to see the contents inside the building and feel this will soon fall down and think the owner is hoping so – so he can get out from under it. Too bad someone can’t take over this building to save it!
Just an update on the oldest commercial building in Richmond (built 1815).
Just an update as of 4/11/2008 on the 401 N 27th building.
The city has geared up to 1) cite the building as blight and 2) was going to demolish it within 30-days as being unsafe but now holding off. They wish to give Patrick Murray one more chance to come up with plans and intent or go to court. Also the Historic Richmond Foundation is interested in purchasing the building to restore and save and also contacting Murray. I am waiting to hear what either has to report concerning contacting him and the outcome.
In the mean time the NW corner of the store continues to buckle and sag – having split open as much as 6 inches and can see inside the building. That corner gets worse with each rain and afraid it will collapse without immediate repairs. Hope something happens one way or the other soon so the building isn’t in jeopardy.
Eric, sounds like you are doing a good job of trying to save it. Historic Richmond Foundation sounds like a good place to go – have you also tried the APVA? I don’t know if they have the resources but it might be worth while to call them, too. Good luck, I’d hate to see it demolished.
Celeste… looks like APVA deals more with properties associated to historic figures or sites in VA (they only list 3 properties in Richmond). Don’t think the store meets their criteria. Believe the HRF is our best bet right now but they too are up against the Murray’s.
Not sure what was happening yesterday (Saturday, 4/26/2008)but there were 2 cars that pulled up in front of our house with men in suits and a woman, who walked the block looking and taking pictures of the 401 building and looking at our house. Not sure what was going on? Developer? Tag looked out of state. I’ll try and find out.
Just posting an update.
The HRF says that the Murray’s are now not speaking to them. They are waiting on the city but at the same time talking to a contractor.
I did hear from my source at the Code Enforcement Division who said that Patrick Murray was issued a Spot Blight letter under legislation and Code of Virginia 36-49.1.1 last week and given 30 days to make changes or loose the property. We have to wait and see now on that one unless something changes before that?
Not that I saw everyone Saturday but know those I did see were not Patrick but possibly did see Sandra talking to them? I was at a distance looking through a window.
There was supposed to have also been some exposure on Channel 12 about the building as well – must have missed that one? I know Channel 8’s was due to my big mouth here 🙂
The foreclosure has been advertised twice in the RTD. I don’t recall when the sale is scheduled.
Interesting. I know that it was given a Spot Blight and June 5th as a deadline. In the mean time Patrick Murray thought he would pull a slick one by changing ownership of the property where his brother-in-law took over for what I understood was $200k but at the same time theer isn’t a deed transfer. The building inspectors gave this brother-in-law an extra day to come up with plans and proof of financial backing to complete the project and did not so it went on to the Planning Commission stage and waiting for a hearing which may hit the September dockets as there is a recess in August. If nothing is accomplished at that point then will go to City Council for sale so the ad in the newspaper about forclosure is a bit baffeling and need to investigate further. Thanks for the heads-up and I’ll post my findings.
Apparently the owners are trying every last ditch effort to buy time and keep this building out of certain people’s hands (racially motivated?). The HRF said it was on the foreclosure list and was prepared to go to the court building on it Tuesday but when they contacted the attorney yesterday handling it was told it had been cancelled. The HRF are as confused as I am and can only say the owners are playing games.
In their words: “.. they wont’ come up with a viable plan…they wont’ correct the public safety issues, …they let their house go to foreclosure…then they must have paid something to get it out of foreclosure…so who knows… ”
And I agree but this historic building is the one suffering the consequences.
June 24th update…
York construction aka Walter S. York III (the brother-in-law of Patrick Murray) “fixed” – if you call it that, the NW corner that was twisting and bulging and cracked wide open last week. The Codes Department said no matter what they do now to the building the process of it going through the Planning Commission stage won’t stop so their efforts are in vain.
Also it has been confirmed that the foreclosure notice seen in last Saturday and Monday’s paper has been cancelled per the attorney handling the lien but no explanation as to why.
July 22nd Updates
This past Sunday there were 2 pickup trucks and a few workers inside the building but nothing visible was done. Suspect that they did something to the rotten wooden rear section as it is looking a bit unstable lately again.
There has been also new developments concerning the building across the street at 325 N 27th owned by Sandra Murray. The old “27th street Inn” neon sign was removed a couple of weeks ago because it was breaking apart the facade of the building and dangerous but no permit was issued. And there has been other activities going on through the back door of the building.
She has been cited with 4 different violations and on the General District Court – Criminal dockets for 7/24/2008 at 1:30PM all for failure to maintain the building(s) for various reasons.
GC08005831-00 through GC08005834-00
Fascinating to read over these 7-year old comments. So much has changed, and yet so much has remained the same!
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