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About the Pear Street project before Council on Monday

City Council is scheduled to consider 2 ordinances relating to the proposed Pear Street project at their next meeting this Monday, June 9. The two ordinances would together authorize a Special Use Permit allowing a condo development on the northernmost lot in the block bound by Pear, Dock, and Main Streets, and close an unused portion of East Cary Street. [sep]

Portion of Cary Street to be closed
Portion of Cary Street to be closed
[sep] Because the proposed use of the land does not match the current zoning of the property, a Special Use Permit (SUP) is required for the project to be built. The land is currently zoned M-1 Light Industrial, which does not allow residential uses and limits building to 45 feet in height except under certain specific circumstances. Rocketts View SCP LP would like to build a 16-story building, with up to 65 condominiums. Developer David White says that the only way that the project will work financially is if they are allowed the extra height. Rocketts View SCP LP bought the property in December of 2001 for $131,250. The 2002 the property was assessed at $40,900. The assessment jumped to $197,000 in 2007 and then to $750,000 in 2013. [sep] Opponents of the project assert that the scale of the development puts it at odds with surrounding buildings and would have a negative impact on the view from Libby Hill Park. Stewart Schwartz, founder of the Partnership for Smarter Growth, calls the development “one of the most significant issues currently facing the neighborhood. […] I don’t think you can overstate the spiritual and economic value of Libby Hill Park to our community. Or the importance of the public stake in open, inclusive planning that resulted in the Downtown Plan and Riverfront Plan.” For the record, Partnership for Smarter Growth has not taken an organizational position on the project but has a history of strongly supporting the Downtown Plan and the inclusive public planning that it represents. River View Advocates have been tracking the project since early on, and have led the fight against the proposal under the 180RVA banner (Facebook / @180RVA). 180RVA includes “residents from across the city, and two statewide groups, Scenic Virginia and Preservation Virginia”. 180RVA has a Change.org petition with just over 1,300 signatures. The group is organizing supporters to come to the next City Council meeting and show their opposition ot the proposal (“please wear something GREEN so they can see we are united”). They are also joined by the Church Hill Association, whose membership voted in May to oppose the project – a decision preceded by greater-than-usual division in the ranks of the association. A dispute, in part, over funding opposition to the project led to the resignation of much of the CHA board in August 2013. A letter from the 180RVA to the Richmond Planning Commission in late March 2014 laid out their concerns about the project:

  • Fails to meet the standards for granting of a Special Use Permit as set forth in the City Charter;
  • Fails to Conform with the City’s Downtown Plan; Master Plan; and Zoning Ordinance;
  • Will forever mar the historic and panoramic views from Libby Hill Park;
  • Disrupts the historic integrity of the Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row Historic District […]
  • Would set a major precedent for granting SUPs for similar high-rise structures on nearby parcels from 25th Street to Rockett’s Landing;
  • Fails to study or even consider traffic from the proposed Echo Harbor development, (“Richmond on the James”), Rocketts Landing or the subdivision projects in Eastern Henrico.
  • Fails to consider the a recent project modification to approximately 60 units averaging only 800 square feet, indicating a possible shift from high-end units to an apartment building.

180RVA’s latest volley, a letter from attorney Andrew McRoberts, focussed on the Special Use Permit process itself and argues that Council may lack the legal authority to approve this particular SUP.

While one gets the idea that they would perhaps prefer to have have the land go undeveloped, 180RVA’s official stance is that they are only asking for any development to match the scale and height of the adjacent Tobacco Row buildings. Tobacco Row is zoned B-5, which allows residential use but limits height at 5 stories.

Members of the group, themselves longtime residents active in the neighborhood, counter the suggestion that Church Hill is inherently opposed to development with a list of projects that have been shaped by community involvement. “If [Church Hill Association] had not spoken up, there would be a plastics manufacturing facility at 25th and Franklin, with forty foot tall silos holding plastic pellets to be melted down into industrial size brushes for street sweepers, ” says Marion Macdonald, one of the stalwart guardians of Libby Hill Park. “If CHA had not spoken up, instead of the Charity Square condos at 25th and Franklin, there would be service station full of rubbish and dumpsters.”

Eugenia Anderson-Ellis says directly, “180RVA is not opposed to development. We are opposed to piece meal decisions that ignore a careful planning process which involved hundreds of citizens over many weeks. The Downtown Master Plan and the subsequent Riverfront Plan are marvelous examples of democracy at work.”

Anderson-Ellis also provides backstory for the current fight. “Jefferson Mews was to have been a high rise for subsidized housing. Imagine what that shadow would have done to the surrounding blocks, and see what an beautiful addition that block is to the neighborhood as built in scale with its surroundings.” “The Superior Building would have been torn down, had we not protested. The City would have lost considerable tax dollars and we would have been stuck with an ugly suburban style grocery. ”

Follow the action at Monday’s City Council meeting. Come down in person, watch on tv (WCVW 24/Comcast), or follow along on Twitter at #rvacouncil.

[sep] The James at River Bend from Libby Hill

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81 comments

180RVA 06/05/2014 at 9:20 AM

The comment about the assessment of the property:

Yes, the land value of Pear St did increase in 2013 by $563,000 to $750,000. Interestingly the property next door, Shockoe Watch Apartments also owned by David White was re-assessed following it’s renovation. That 2012 land value was at $1,300,000 but in 2013 it was reduced to $765,000 – a reduction of $535,000. Perhaps the two assessments were re-considered at the same time, as the net land value changes zeroed out.

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Eric Morton 06/05/2014 at 9:27 AM

Hi. My brother lives in this neighborhood with his wife Liz. We enjoy Libbie Hill Park and the great views it has to offer. Please do not let this project go forward.

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Alex 06/05/2014 at 9:29 AM

How can the developer not make this work financially without completely trashing the view? He paid $130K and has been content to sit on it for years until now. You could build row homes and make the math work at that land price.

Even if this true, his ineptitude shouldn’t mean we all have to suffer the loss of a public view.

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East Grace 06/05/2014 at 9:46 AM

The developer has said he plans to live in the penthouse. If for some horrible reason they do build Echo Harbor he needs the height to be able see over it for himself and to be able to charge top price for the rest. The Style piece a few weeks past had it right – it is about greed, for money and the view.

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ray 06/05/2014 at 10:07 AM

Pear Street is one of those issues that can really help define a campaign for Mayor which is significant since several Council members are supposedly thinking about running.

Do you stand with the developers — David White and Lewis Salamonsky — or the environmental / smart growth / good government activist crowd and all their allies and supporters?

In other words, do you go with the money or with the people?

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Scott 06/05/2014 at 10:38 AM

Dear Honorable Members of City Council,

You may be SHOCKED to discover, as I discovered today through the Freedom of Information Act response below, that the city administration failed to even order an appraisal of the valuable city property that is proposed for sale for-a-song to convicted felon Louis Salomonsky and his partners by Ordinance 2014-71. This ordinance, with the Mayor as its patron, is before City Council on June 9th as part of the Mayor’s proposed give-away package for Salomonsky’s outrageous16 story tower at a location where only 5 stories is authorized by the city’s Master Plan.

According to the FOIA response that I received below, the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer has no records responsive to my request for:
1). The appraisals that were performed on the parcel that is proposed to be conveyed to convicted felon Louis Salomonsky and his business partners through Ordinance 2014-71.
2). The appraisals that were performed on the property owned by convicted felon Louis Salomonsky to determine how much the value of Salomonsky’s property will increase by acquiring the city property through Ordinance 2014-71.
3). A copy of the notice that the sale of the city property as described in Ordinance 2014-71
was advertised for bids.

I urge you to vote against Ordinance 2014-71. This ordinance fits the pattern of favoritism shown by the Mayor in no-bid contracts and land deals with convicted felon Louis Salomonsky.

This city property is of enormous value because Salomonsky cannot build his project without it. At a bare minimum, the City Council should insist that the property be appraised and that a restriction be included limiting the building height to that which is established in the Master Plan.

Sincerely,

Charles Pool

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Amye 06/05/2014 at 8:15 PM

Please save this beautiful view where thousands of RVA couples have fallen in love, gotten engaged, or had their wedding pictures taken (or all of the above!)

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Hillage Idiot 06/05/2014 at 10:42 PM

#7, IF this is true….City Council, please do not approve this SUP.

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Mars 06/05/2014 at 10:44 PM

Where do we click to sign a petition in support?

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Steve 06/05/2014 at 10:56 PM

Uh, I hope I dont tick everyone off but I love that view as much as anyone and would love to see a thriving downtown city as part of it. That means people, that means density, that means hight. I dont find those artist renderings very inspiring, but we need towers in the bottom because population requirements are simple math. I know many are content with the status quo but like it or not the bottom should be the center of richmond, bustling with life, worthy of world class interest/visitation. We killed Echo Harbour, the recent Bottom Development Plan, now this – so where should development happen? Why cling to some pretend bucolic past that never existed down there? If anything the recent plans were not ambitious enough – lets think bigger and grander (and accept that we’ll be able to admire it from Libby Hill)

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Melissa Pocock 06/06/2014 at 2:36 AM

You can access the petition via 180RVA.com.

Progress doesn’t always equate to bigger and grander.

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Dave 06/06/2014 at 5:05 AM

Well said Steve!

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Alex 06/06/2014 at 6:43 AM

Isn’t the lot next door also owned by the same developers? If so, how was it that they’ve been able to be profitable with a three story or so building on that spot? If the economics are wrong, they could bulldoze that one and build a wide five story complex across the two lots.

This is clearly all about monopolizing the view plain and simple.

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Mars 06/06/2014 at 7:07 AM

@ Steve, I’m in full agreement. I was looking for a petition to voice my support, not opposition. I feel like those of us in support need to have a voice also. Please sign this and spread the word. I hope not to have to buy an entire domain like 180rva just to share my opinion. http://chn.ge/1p1O5jr

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Alex 06/06/2014 at 7:54 AM

@7 – I didn’t realize until now that this guy:
http://kontradictions.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/salomonsky-richmond-is-a-ghetto-of-people-making-30k-50k-a-year/

was involved with the project.

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FormerLibbyHillResident 06/06/2014 at 9:42 AM

Actually, “smart growth” is high density development versus the sprawl we see in the “burbs”. I think the tower fits into the environment quite nicely.

I’m still amused that we have changed the argument from the “historic view” to the “panoramic view”. When I lived on Libby Hill, a few of the houses that were younger than mine, blocked my “panoramic view”. Should I have insisted that they be torn down?

As Rocketts is developed in Henrico County, the historic view will be lost. Take a look at the development plans for that project.

And a note related to the grocery store at 25th and Main. When the NIMBY’s fought this project, a much smaller store was built. Consequently, the selection is much less. Is it any wonder most of Church Hill shops somewhere else due to the lack of selection?

The Pear Street project will bring more people downtown and support many more businesses and restaurants.

I support it…and would even if I still lived in Libby Hill

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edg 06/06/2014 at 9:56 AM

I do not support the tower. Just wanted to chime in to show solidarity with the rest of us that think this is out of scale for the area.

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Don O'Keefe 06/06/2014 at 10:01 AM

I am in support of the Pear street development and believe it will positively impact the view, increase the walkability of the neighborhood, and be a positive move for sustainability in Richmond on a number of levels. I hope the council will follow the recommendation of the panning commission and allow this project to go forward as it should.

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Melissa Pocock 06/06/2014 at 10:16 AM

#17 “When I lived on Libby Hill, a few of the houses that were younger than mine, blocked *MY* “panoramic view”. Should I have insisted that they be torn down?” The view from your residence belonged to you. The view from Libby belongs to many.

The Farm Fresh on 25th and Broad, what lack of selection are you referring to? I shop there quite often. For me, the panoramic view is symbolic marriage of Richmond’s past and present – two landscapes, nature (river bend) feeding into the industrial environment (city skyline). This is what makes it breathtaking to behold. Not sure what is meant by a “pretend bucolic past.” ? There are many admiral views of high rises in Richmond, one only has to look up. Why can’t we have an eclectic mix of scenes?

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ray 06/06/2014 at 11:27 AM

Ed Slipek gets it:

http://www.styleweekly.com/richmond/ripple-effect/Content?oid=2068122

I would enjoy a point by point counter by his “ArchitectureRichmond” associate, Mr. O’Keefe.

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RVAtransplant 06/06/2014 at 11:45 AM

Development is great if it is done with integrity. But developers that take advantage of the system putting profit over people should absolutely be stopped. This same developer (that served federal prison time for bribing city officials) did a project at 18th and Cary. He took advantage of the historic tax abadment by attaching an apartment complex to an historic pump house (after tearing down 3 of its 4 walls leaving only the face). And he’s tax free on it for 10 years. That is ridiculous. Developers taking advantage of these tax breaks and making shady deals will not help the city I it’s residents in the long run.

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chpnfan 06/06/2014 at 12:52 PM

Re-posting from Alex. You’ve got to listen to the audio

http://kontradictions.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/salomonsky-richmond-is-a-ghetto-of-people-making-30k-50k-a-year/

…. he notes with optimism that “minorities moving to the counties” because of a “declining school system” will finally bring rich, childless empty-nesters into the city, making it richer than the counties.

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Neighbor 06/06/2014 at 3:20 PM

No. 17 is correct about the grocery store. CHA fought that development with great fervor – many in the membership were opposed to any grocery store since Carytown was close enough.

I don’t love the proposed building – I think it’s unattractive and out of proportion. But let’s be honest. The view of the river as it now exists is not exactly pristine. It would be nice to see improvement down there.

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Quantious 06/06/2014 at 3:36 PM

My wife and I took our engagement photos there. It would be such a shame to lose the most beautiful view in the city.

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crd 06/06/2014 at 4:24 PM

@24, please tell me when CHA fought the grocery store. I’ve lived here for years and have no memory of that. My memory is that we fought the destruction of the Superior Building, not the grocery store. We welcomed both the grocery store and CVS down there at 25th and Main.

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RVAtransplant 06/06/2014 at 4:47 PM

@23 thanks for the clip. Salmonsky is a piece of work. My family and I moved here almost 3 years ago from the Midwest. Most of that time has been in the West End (would not have been our pick, my mother-in-law chose the place lol). Since moving to VA I have hated it. Seriously hated it and have never been more home sick. Around the beginning if the year we looked at our finances and decided we have to relocate somewhere more affordable if we ever hope to purchase a home someday. We decided to start really looking at moving into the city…from the burbs…with kids. (Opposite of normal, but no one ever accused us being normal).

I majored in journalism and worked in broadcast news for a decade so research is kinda my thing. So of course I carefully, okay obsessively, researched every neighborhood in the city and every property I looked in looked at. Honestly, I probably know more about the histories of these properties than the people who own them. I was done researching neighborhoods the first time I looked at a place in Church Hill.

My fist trip there I knew that this was the neighborhood for our family, that first house…not so much, but now I knew where to look. Why Church Hill? The historic homes are beautiful (even the ones that need some love), the parks are awesome, there are small businesses instead of big box stores and Applebee’s, but the real reason was the amazing and diverse people that make up this community. The fist time I went to get a coffee there I held the door for the lady behind me and she said “thank you sweetheart”. I know that seems insignificant, but I almost fell over. I always hold a door if someone is close behind me, just how I was raised but I could not remember the last time someone actually said thank you or even acknowledged my presence. That’s when I realized that it wasn’t a geographic location I was homesick for it was kind people and front porches and a sense of community. Basically all the things that this developer wants to drive out. Thankfully after months of searching and nearly driving my husband completely insane, we found a great place in Church Hill North and we move In August!

We don’t fit the description of the people they hope to draw to the area with this development. We aren’t wealthy by any means, we have children (gasp), but we are hard working people who genuinely want to contribute to and be a part of a community. For us this issue isn’t just about a view, it’s about trying to preventing greed from trying to change the entire dynamic of the neighborhood. They want to take away the things bring people like us there in the first place. Like I said before progress is great, I is done ethically and with integrity and this guy’s moral compass is clearly off. They don’t care about the community or the people in it. Bottom line is this kind of “progress” isn’t just bad for the view it’s bad for the people.

Fin

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ray 06/06/2014 at 5:28 PM

crd is right. There was no “fervor” against the grocery store as #26 claims, people were excited about it coming here. To say otherwise is just making stuff up.

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Neighbor 06/07/2014 at 9:51 AM

The membership was more than willing to lose the store in favor of no change at all. To say otherwise is simply making stuff up.

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crd 06/07/2014 at 10:16 AM

Correction, it is @26 (not 24) that says “CHA fought that development with great fervor – many in the membership were opposed to any grocery store since Carytown was close enough.”

We did NOT do that. Thank you Ray @30. Come on folks, stick to the facts. We fought the destruction of the Superior Building, and they didn’t tear it down.

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Bill 3 06/07/2014 at 10:42 AM

RVAtransplant – great post and welcome to the neighborhood!

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RVAtransplant 06/07/2014 at 3:55 PM

Thank you Bill! We are really excited about the move and hope we can contribute to the community.

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Neighbor 06/07/2014 at 5:52 PM

Please. No one in the CHA cared a bit about the Superior Building until the grocery store was proposed.

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Scott 06/08/2014 at 11:03 AM

Dear Honorable Members of City Council,

According to Section 15.2-2008 of the Code of Virginia, for the right-of-way and easement to be purchased by the abutting property owner: “The price shall be no greater than the property’s fair market value or its contributory value to the abutting property, whichever is greater, or the amount agreed to by the parties.” This state code section is referenced in part 2(d) of the attached Ordinance 2014-71, which is before City Council on June 9th.

The property involved in Ordinance 2014-71 is of tremendous “contributory value to the abutting property” because the 16 story Salomonsky tower is proposed to be built over the foot-print of the city-owned property and cannot be built without it. The height of this tower would be triple the height allowed by the city’s master plan.

It is outrageous that no appraisal of this property and no appraisal of its contributory value to the abutting property, owned by convicted felon Louis Salomonsky and his business partners, was undertaken by the city administration. The price agreed upon in this give-away is actually less than the comparable value of Salomonsky’s adjacent property.

Why has Mayor Dwight Jones continued to shower Louis Salomonsky, who plead guilty to bribing a city councilperson and attempting to defraud the city concerning a tax abatement, with so many sweet-heart business deals, including a no-bid contract for architectural and engineering services and land-swaps for the Mayor’s proposed Shockoe stadium? This Ordinance 2014-71, for which the Mayor is the patron, is just the latest in a string of sweet-heart deals with Salomonsky that are threatening to undermine the integrity of our city.

I call on our honorable City Council members to uphold your fiduciary responsibility and vote against Ordinance 2014-71. It is important for Council to avoid the appearance of impropriety, and this give-away to a convicted felon who brought shame upon the City of Richmond smacks of impropriety.

Sincerely,

Charles Pool

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crd 06/08/2014 at 8:44 PM

Don’t bother showing up on Monday, it’s going to be postponed.

Mr. Pool, I for one appreciate your postings.

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chpn 06/09/2014 at 8:35 AM

Hearing that Pear Street will likely be continued. Samuels says Newbille asked that it be continued & probably amended tonight.

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Alex 06/09/2014 at 9:11 AM

Amended to become a five story building as it should have been all along?

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Karen 06/09/2014 at 10:01 AM

Alex, let’s hope so!!!

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RVAtransplant 06/09/2014 at 10:47 AM

Maybe it’s just because I am a somewhat-newcomer to Richmond, but I just think it is insane how the city just keeps letting this developer get these deals. I try to be a well informed resident and the things I have learned researching the last several years of development in the city…seriously I felt like I should have been eating popcorn reading this stuff! I just can’t believe that this guy goes to prison for bribing city officials, loses one of his tax exemptions because he completely took advantage of the system and they still seem to just throw these projects at him. Maybe I’m missing something?

I spent the first 12 years of my life on an 80 acre farm that my father gave the best years of his life to. I learned so much about life there, things that you can’t learn in school or in books. My dad always said that “nature is where you learn common sense”. It’s also where I learned the value of hard work. I would love to take my sons and show them where I grew up. I’d love to hike through those woods and show them where I built forts with my brothers and wade in 3 creeks that ran through the farm, fish in the pond. I can’t do that because the farm is gone. They extended a highway many years ago. The farmers who wouldn’t sell, let’s just say the buzzwords there were “eminent domain”. There is now an off-ramp where our house sat and a truck stop where the barn once stood. To quote one of the greatest dark comedies of all time, “You can never go home, but at least you can shop there”. (10 points if you can that movie!)

I know this may sound like I an against progress, I’m not. I just also know the value of roots. There are a lot of people with roots in the Church Hill area. People that love their neighborhood and hung in through its worst years. I’m not just looking at this issue as just a building but what they are hoping to accomplish with it in the long term. And their goal is to make it harder for these people to stay in their own neighborhood. That’s not right. The people that stayed even when it wasn’t the greatest place to live deserve to see it flourish more than anyone.

This is one of those situations where everyone (at least as far as residents are conserned) wants the same thing. Everyone wants to see the neighborhood improve and prosper. We just disagree on how to get there.

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chpn 06/09/2014 at 2:21 PM

Vote on Libby Hill Development Delayed As Locals Push to Preserve Views
http://rvamag.com/articles/full/23419/vote-on-libby-hill-development-delayed-as-locals-push-to-preserve-views

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crd 06/09/2014 at 2:58 PM

@42 Transplant, you’ve got a good grasp, particularly in your description of the developer. To answer your question in the last sentence of first paragraph, nope you’re not missing anything at all. There might be more if you put Dwight Jones in the picture, but you’ve described the developer who went to jail pretty well.

@25 chpn fan, thanks for pointing out the audio, I just listened to it. Incredible.

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Lora 06/09/2014 at 4:36 PM

I’ve read from several sources that the Pear Street papers have been postponed, but as of 10 minutes ago, the online agenda for tonight’s meeting still showed them as active. Has anyone gotten verification from the Clerk’s office that the papers have been postponed?

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chpn 06/09/2014 at 5:55 PM

Pear Street officially continued to July 14

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RVAtransplant 06/09/2014 at 9:53 PM

I’m learning the Mayor now. I try to reserve comment until I do some research, but I have a pretty good idea where it’s going.

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Ron 06/15/2014 at 11:04 PM

@Former Libby Hill resident, I totally agree with you on the selection in the market.
I tried desperately to support the store when it first opened, and got very frustrated not being able to find a good selection of anything, I wanted (not even a good substitute) and it forced me to continue going Carytown

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Next Friend 06/16/2014 at 8:58 AM

This project is not in any historic district. The City has never enacted a view-shed height ordinance here.

If PSG and 180RVA are something other than NIMBY, they would be asking for a historic district overlay and a view-shed height-limiting ordinance. There are tools for neighbors and development to co-exist. STOP OPPOSING PROJECTS ONE BY ONE AND BUILD A FRAMEWORK FOR MUTUAL SUCCESS.

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Houdon 06/16/2014 at 11:22 AM

Not surprisingly, Next Friend, I agree with you. PSG, 180RVA, and allied neighbors have done more harm than good to their cause, long term. There is no strategy to the approach, and reflexive NIMBY-ism makes it easy to ignore the constant parade of opposition. CHA should take their festival proceeds and hire a consultant to help them frame a comprehensive strategy for future engagement with the City and development interests.

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sunny 06/16/2014 at 3:16 PM

I don’t get it. What is wrong with asking the developer for responsible development, keyword, responsible, and allowing the neighbors to have input in the direction they would like to see it go? Or to just have input on a project near them. Should a developer or business just have free reins? Why continuously name call? Are the big developers GREEDY as we are NIMBY’S? Or are we selective of who gets called names? Should we just allow big business to do whatever they please without questioning? Even after they are allowed to do this or that, they almost always come back to council and want to amend this,change that….you get my point. It’s been done several times. Some of us have learned from experience. It’s Business, not personal.

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bill 06/16/2014 at 3:35 PM

scott, you don’t like the hi-rise? ok, you don’t have to like the hi-rise. why is it so personal? I don’t like dr pepper but I am not saying dr pepper is a child molester. salomonsky was never “convicted” of diddly squat. he plead, he made an admission. if you cant get your facts straight shut the fuck up. so are you willing to admit you are an asshole?

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Hillage Idiot 06/16/2014 at 4:52 PM

I love CHPN for the nugget of brilliance in all the comments. The point regarding strategy, compromise and the erosion of CHA political clout is right on. The collective experience in managing negotiations and business issues is likely very low in the group. Their own cognitive dissonance is why they will never be taken seriously or successful in the long run. Generally not bad people but unfortunately out of touch. Over-under on CHA dissolution if under the same old mindset – 4 years. Any takers?

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ray 06/16/2014 at 5:49 PM

Hillage Idiot –

Why do you say CHA has lost political clout? What big issue have they lost?

I mean, they might lose on Pear Street (I hope not) but they haven’t yet.

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ray 06/16/2014 at 5:52 PM

And bill #53, Salamonsky did serve a good amount of time in prison for trying to bribe a Councilperson.

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CHA Mbr 06/17/2014 at 7:47 AM

Hillage …. You obviously have not been to any recent meetings (last six months) to see that membership is strong, attendance is up and involvement is motivated within the neighborhood and community.

Yes, we went through a uncomfortable time with the Buzzy’s issue but CHA has bounced back and stronger than ever – as the core values of the association are to improve the lives, living and community, in which we live. That does not constitute burying our heads in the sand and ignoring things that are just not appropriate, (Pear St, Echo Harbor).

If you want to label us as NIMBY feel free to do so but membership has it privileges and by attending meeting and discussions you can express your opinions face-to-face and engage in the debates and dialogues.

See you at the next meeting and let us know when you do – who you are, so we can welcome you and your opinions.

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Hillage Idiot 06/17/2014 at 8:21 AM

Ray-

RE: Clout question

1. Not one member of the board attended Newbille’s community meeting.

2. Not one member of the board attended Lt Minton’s Community meeting.

3. In the wake of last years debacle (no need to rehash), Civil credibility was lost. If the CHA opposed the SUP then yes they won, but at a deathly cost. CHA brand image has suffered greatly and not much has been done to repair it.

4. Allowing the usual suspects to lead the 180RVA group puts the initiative at disadvantage potentially. If one can’t consider this may hurt the cause then they’re not equipped to understand business and politics.

5. USA Today names Church Hill top 25 up and coming neighborhoods. This is primarily because of what is happening north of Broad. CHA is more of a “Friends of Libby Park” group that cares not about NOB.

6. NOB – Church Hill has many needs that CHA ignores, poverty a few blocks north, middle school that is in shambles, and have done nothing to work with or help the entrepreneurs who have invested in our community.

7. Take a look at the membership base. Pretty low considering the available population and the new demographic. Is the CHA representing the new Church Hill?

8. Anecdotally I have friends that cross the socioeconomic spectrum and most have a very low esteem for CHA. This sentiment is likely shared by our adjacent community organizations.

Put this together and combine it with the lack of self awareness and you have a recipe for extinction.

Real business is done with an understanding of one’s position of strength, compromise and investment. CHA has an opportunity to do some good for Church Hill as a whole but continues to muster energy and work for sidewalks, parking permits, trolley history, and house tours. Showing a little more interest outside SOB might gain some respect from the city and your neighbors. After all, that’s where the needs are.

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Hillage Idiot 06/17/2014 at 8:37 AM

CHA Mbr –

I am a CHA member and I attend all the meetings. I have found all of the aforementioned reflected. I have not used NIMBY in my responses nor have I said Pear St and Echo Harbor are not worthwhile pursuits. I like the members personally I just don’t agree with the manner in which the CHA is run.

In order to debate their must be rules, decorum and acceptance of new ideas and possibilities. There is none. The same old crew attends and the same old thinking prevails. The first step is admitting the problem.

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ray 06/17/2014 at 9:12 AM

I appreciate your long response, Hillage Idiot, but you did not respond to my primary question: What big issue have they lost?

You cite a lot of subjective reasons why CHA, in your view, has “lost clout” (and I’m not sure how not attending a certain meeting indicates that), but, in the end, having clout translates into winning or losing on issues for which you take a position.

So again, what big issue has CHA lost that would indicate its’ “losing clout’?

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jean mcdaniel 06/17/2014 at 9:28 AM

@ 58 and @ 59
You are both so very accurate in your statements! I have previously voiced my dissapointment that none of the CHA leadership attended the problem solving seminar. However, the CHA does not tolerate dissent and the “same leadership” is in place, just using different names. The current president of the CHA made it clear that anyone that dosen’t like the way things are run are ” sociopaths, and mal contents”.

What can be expected from a group so entrenched and incapable of seeing past their front porch?

The CHA is now in the process of “revising the by-laws” Why are they doing this? “To protect and defend board members”!!!

There must be rules you say. There were rules but they were ignored by people who felt that the rules didn’t apply to them. These people were board members

What can be expected from a group of people so arrogant that they don’t have to follow the rules?

The more I am threatened, ( and I have been ) and the more I am told to “shut up” ( nobody has had the balls to do this to my face ) makes me all the more determined to bring into the light the manueavering behind closed doors of the CHA.

The rules don’t apply to us, so we will ignore the rules and when that dosen’t work, we will change the rules!!

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Hillage Idiot 06/17/2014 at 10:43 AM

Ray-

The observation is about the future not the past. A Won/Lost record is not the point. The point is that the city and Church Hill are changing. CHA is not.

Consider the story of the fish when asked “How’s the water?”. Fish said “What’s water?”

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Next Friend 06/17/2014 at 11:31 AM

Back to the merits, even if this building was the same height as the Lucky Strike building, it would block the same amount of water view as the current proposal. Probably more, actually – a shorter building would need to take up more ground area. Something is going here, people. What’s the best option? Short and squat blocking more water view appears to be the 180RVA answer. Congrats on securing the view.

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Eric S. Huffstutler 06/17/2014 at 11:38 AM

Most of the old members here know that I am a staunch advocate for preservation in historic neighborhoods. I am against modernistic in-fills and the fact that most building designs are approved under the radar before the general public is informed. I wonder if/when the CAR or the builder contacts the immediate neighbors about their construction intent so they can voice their opinions? I thought that was a given and if the neighbors know what is happening and if they don’t like it, why they don’t voice their opinions and inform others while they are at it? The CAR has a checkered past concerning approving designs anyway – a long and heated history about this on various threads here on CHPN.

But on the other side of the coin I am all about progress when it falls outside of the protected areas. Or if the land has been vacant or blighted for years such as Shockoe Bottom. Back when the stadium issue hit there was an August 2001 “Richmond Magazine” interview with city officials then and one comment made seems to sum up a lot of what is happening concerning those NIMBY people: “The question that underscores everything is: What does Richmond want? Competitive relevancy, while remaining true to itself, or, meeting the city’s apparent standard for itself with comfortable dormancy?”
Just my .02¢ worth.

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ray 06/17/2014 at 12:00 PM

Cool.

So you saying they are going to lose clout, not that they have.

Got it.

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Eric S. Huffstutler 06/17/2014 at 12:47 PM

To be fair, the CHA (Church Hill Association) staff has changed over the years and even more so recently due to controversial issues and openly expressing viewpoints. I am sure there are those on the staff who are not familiar with the various issues confronted over the years like us old folks. I think they are supposed to remain open minded and objective so every aspect of an issue can be weighed without being swayed by opinions of only a few but by the majority. I do have to say that when I first moved to Church Hill in 1999, I tried to become an active member and even offered to design the website but a few onboard were not having anything that did not represent the views of CHA and basically stated that the CHA website was for CHA members “only” and that if you have an issue in the neighborhood, don’t come asking for help through the CHA unless you were a member! In other words it was a cliquish social club and not for the community at large which turned me off. I am sure things have changed since then and hope the new bylaws won’t be echoing those from 15-years past?

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Eric S. Huffstutler 06/17/2014 at 12:49 PM

But do enjoy writing the historical articles for the newsletter sharing our history with others!

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Next Friend 06/17/2014 at 3:15 PM

Again: Pear Street is not in a historic district at all so there is no CAR review.

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Eric S. Huffstutler 06/17/2014 at 5:48 PM

Next Friend… If the area is not in any protected historic area and not subject to any review, then I am not sure what those who are complaining about their scenic views will accomplish? I am wonder what people said when Tobacco Row was built? Or the first high-rises downtown? You heard the old saying “money talks”

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Eric S. Huffstutler 06/17/2014 at 6:40 PM

I am not quite sure because the maps seen in the pdf files for these documents are horrid – for the various National Registry Historic Districts. Pear doesn’t fall under any Richmond Old & Historic (O&H) districts but may fall inside the Shockoe Valley-Tobacco Row approved in 1981 as a “historic district” under the Department of Interior “National Registry of Historic Places” (VLR# 127-0344). It, unlike other areas, does mention an old tobacco plant called T&S Hardgrove located on the corner of Cary and Pear and how Dock Street tobacco district extends to Pear so it may fall under that and subject to review? If anyone wishes to follow up and verify? Of course someone may have already mentioned it above?

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KatManDo 06/17/2014 at 8:57 PM

#61 – Wow Jean, there you go, again. Just give it up…

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Eric S. Huffstutler 06/18/2014 at 4:03 PM

Not that this helps any other than to add some clarity but here is a follow-up on my last post. The CAR admits that the address in question on Pear Street does not fall into the Old & Historic districts they recognize but do fall into the Shockoe Valley-Tobacco Row Historic District handled by the Department of Interior and locally by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. But, CAR does not recognize these districts other than they do benefit from tax credits. I asked the BAR in Charleston, SC how they work in comparison to Richmond and was told that they do use the Department of Interior’s Historic Districts designations and attach guidelines to those boundaries since they do not dictate themselves what should fall into those districts other than the structure has to be over 50 years old to be protected. Apparently flooding is an issue for them so there are some exceptions for design-preservation variances depending on the case.

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Paul Hammond 06/20/2014 at 10:02 AM

PSG: “I don’t think you can overstate the spiritual and economic value of Libby Hill Park to our community.”

I think you just did.

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Eric S. Huffstutler 07/11/2014 at 5:41 PM

Hey, Mayo Island is up for sale. Maybe it can be rezoned for residential and then they can build a 100-story multi use high rise on the island then no one can say it is in their back yard to complain 🙂

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Pear Street on the table again | Church Hil People's News 12/02/2015 at 7:35 AM

[…] Because the proposed use of the land did not match the zoning of the property, a previous proposal for development on the Pear Street lot would have required Special Use Permit (S… […]

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Pear Street development moving forward as 5-story project - Church Hill People's News | Richmond, Virginia 02/07/2017 at 8:43 AM

[…] The developers had originally sought a Special Use Permit to allow a 16-story building, which met vigorous opposition. […]

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