I love what they did with the WPA building – just wish that the old neon sign would have been saved or replicated. I don’t think our old 401 building will ever see the light of day as a legitimate business and restored properly. The current owners are still playing hard ball with selling and preserving. Violations outstanding (the city doing nothing), and racial issues (yes, those too still exist).
How is this place still allowed to stand? It’s clearly going to fall in on itself & is an eyesore to the surrounding area. I can’t change the color of my front door without jumping through hoops, but this place is perfectly acceptable?
this building is now renovated and home to WPA, 2 apartments and Loving lemons . Richmond has the habit of boarding up and waiting for the property to be useful. I think it is one of the best things about Richmond otherwise we might become a”plastic” city like Charlotte, where a house built in the 1920s is considered Historic.
Sorry I should have been more clear, I was talking about the big red mess on the other side of Marshall (the bottom picture), the one Eric is talking about above.
I saved this building from demolition by the city years ago because it is historic. It is the oldest commercial building in the city – built in 1815 (will be 200-years old next year). But yes, it was condemned in 2004 and gutted only to remain that way ever since. I have talked to various people at city hall until I am blue in the face and became a joke down there. The city has ZERO interest in preservation. Their sights are on progress. The current owners have a bone to pick with the city as well as the neighborhood and placed a ridiculous price tag on the building of $500,000, which was fair market assessed a few years back at $105,000. No one will touch it for their price. It needs a clean restoration and the stucco removed to show the original brickwork and windows which can for the most part be put back. They should all be arched 6-over-6 windows even on the first floor. But for now it remains a hollow shell downstairs – dirt floors, no interior walls. The apartment was placed over it and think the city cast a blind eye to most of the work as they often do.
Eric, do you know if anyone has contacted Cynthia Newbille about this building?
Does she care?
Actually there was a grassroots groups I was a part of which failed back in 2011. We met with Cynthia Newbille and I brought up concerns about this building then along with giving her a artist concept of how the building may have looked when built in 1815, hoping someone would restore it to that image. I also met with her as well as Tyler Potterfield with the CAR in October 2010 about the building and he acted like he would rather be sitting in a pit of snakes than across from me. I was promised updates and got none. Just like our group was promised by Newbille to follow up on our preservation and infill concerns but no one ever heard back from her no matter how many attempts we made. That speaks volumes about her silence.
I could recite a ton of information from 2004 onwards about this building and all of the back and forth that went on with it as I had been involved almost every step of the way up until a couple of years ago when things became stagnant with it. My interest is because it is historically linked to our house (built in 1812) – and built by the same person as one of his grocery stores. It remained a grocery outlet of one variation or another until post WWII and became a Laundromat up until it was condemned. (I wrote a historical article on this building in the October 2013 issue of the CHA Newsletter). Original plans were to put a restaurant in the bottom part but that was nixed because at the time zoning would not allow a business change without change in parking and needed 12 additional “off street” spaces within 300 feet and there were no available land for it. After that things turned ugly and then the city played games. There are code violations still outstanding including lead paint with a notice still on the door in tattered pieces from being there so long!
To some extent, the city can mandate the owners make repairs to the building. If they fail to comply, the city can elect to make the repairs for them, and add the cost to the tax bill. However, the city has to be able and willing to pursue such an option, and I’m not sure how far the city can take such a project without violating property rights.
True, IF the city would enforce them, which they don’t.
There are State Codes in the books where the city can seize the property if they wish due to Spot Blight and non compliance. This has been done before but ONLY a couple of times and as a last resort. The city tries to give the owner a chance to make good and if they show the slightest movement in doing so, drops all disciplinary actions. The owners have played that game with the city for years but also the city does not physically follow up to see what is or isn’t being done. Just like the house at 413 N 27th. The owner moved in without a clear occupancy permit because the house was not completed, all permits killed last March, and no inspections done with half only taking her “word” for it. Now she is in a terrible mess which could have been avoided if the city would have done their job in the first place!
Eric – thanks for the background. I’d heard that about the building in passing & agree on it’s importance to our history. My problem (which seems to be the same issue you have) is when the owners have zero interest in basically anything besides allowing it to fall in on itself. To me – if you aren’t actually residing in, renting out, improving, or at the bare minimum maintaining the property so that it isn’t a blight on our area, the city ought to make life a living hell for you. Based on everything I’ve heard – they have no interest in that.
Bill3… again is the sad truth about our city. Here we are, one of the most historical cities in America. One of the oldest too yet the city would rather have it fall down around them than fix it up for tourist income or historical value. This was one objective of the grassroots group in 2011 but could not get team leaders to follow through on “good intensions”. When it came time for action they were missing in action and so the group fell apart and things coast on as before. Now there is a younger generation coming along who thinks Historic Districts are a thing of the past too and would like to undo all of the decades of hard work others have put into saving our neighborhoods and gems within them.
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