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Follow along as Amy and Jason Tesauro build a 15-wide dream house on Broad Street

Richmond Magazine has the first in a series to follow Amy and Jason Tesauro’s experience in building a new 15-foot wide house for their 7-member clan at 3706 East Broad Street:

“I bought a lot today,” she told me. “It’s 22-feet wide.”

This struck me as absurd. “That’s not a lot,” I said. “That’s a little.” Figure in the required 3-foot setbacks from neighbors on either side, plus the exterior walls, and you’re down to 15 feet. “It’ll work,” she assured me. “Dutch and Japanese families do it all the time with even less.”

[…]

But before you ever put shovel to earth in Church Hill’s historic district, you’ve got to stare down the purists, appease the preservationists and earn approval from the persnickety Richmond Commission of Architectural Review (CAR). At best, we’d get a skinny house with views of the river basin. At worst, we’d end up with a $45,000 badminton and bocce court for the children.

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Kathleen Sanders
Kathleen Sanders
4 years ago

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Jacob Nieding
Jacob Nieding
4 years ago

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Amanda Burnette
Amanda Burnette
4 years ago

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Alicia Hogue Conrad
Alicia Hogue Conrad
4 years ago

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Kristen Paynter Kaplan
4 years ago

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Christine Greenberg
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Roy S Drake Jr
Roy S Drake Jr
4 years ago

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Catherine Willis Gilmer
Catherine Willis Gilmer
4 years ago

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Chelsea Harnish
Chelsea Harnish
4 years ago

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Paul S
Paul S
4 years ago

I’ve read a few articles on this house the last month or so. What is not clear to me is why it needs to be 15ft wide if the lot is 22ft wide. They mention setbacks but don’t really fully delve into it. Almost every house on my block nearby, which is zoned R-8 and full of early 1900s homes, has one side of the house on a zero lot line. Is this zero lot line option not available to new construction? Do neighbors have to consent to zero lot line for new construction? Or does this parcel have different… Read more »

Dashawna Wright
Dashawna Wright
4 years ago

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Brooke Shanelle
Brooke Shanelle
4 years ago

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Meghan Worsham
Meghan Worsham
4 years ago

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Courtney Belden Marsh
Courtney Belden Marsh
4 years ago

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Joseph Carson
Joseph Carson
4 years ago

Wonderful

Joshua Champagne
Joshua Champagne
4 years ago

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Erin Jenkins
Erin Jenkins
4 years ago

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Kevin Svensen
Kevin Svensen
4 years ago

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Justin Gilmer
Justin Gilmer
4 years ago

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Joseph Carson
Joseph Carson
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Mona Youssofi Bauwens
Mona Youssofi Bauwens
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Harvey Tracey
Harvey Tracey
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Daniel Newton
Daniel Newton
4 years ago

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Sarah Hunt Clair
Sarah Hunt Clair
4 years ago

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garry
garry
4 years ago

quote from the article writer” the ugly (the verbal equivalent of Molotov cocktails from neighborhood opposition)” — Yo dog what neighbor is throwing verbal molotov cocktails? I’ve spoken to most of the people in the 3600 block of e broad and none of us have met you. I did meet a photographer who was taking pictures of the lot, was that Jason? If so I thought you were cool with the people on the street. To the builders Jason and Amy Most of the people in this block have been here a long time. I and most neighbors welcome you.… Read more »

Charles Field
Charles Field
4 years ago

In the R-8 zoning a detached house must have 3 foot setbacks. They would need the permission and an easement from the neighbors to attach to their building. Also if you’re closer than 3′ to the property line you can’t have any windows. They probably could have gotten a reduced set back on one side through a special use permit, but that’s a hassle and takes months. 15′ will work fine if they have someone who knows what they’re doing help them with the layout. 15′ is a wide room as long as there is no hallway through it. They… Read more »

Lee
Lee
4 years ago

@Paul S – my understanding is that two houses can be built attached, and in theory I think a single home can be built to the lot line if either a) the person building owns both lots or B) the house is being built attached to an existing zero lot line house. You would have to read the zoning ordinance and/or talk to the city to figure out exactly how it works, but I think in general the city does not want a new building to be built in a way that obstructs light and access to a preexisting building… Read more »

comp
comp
4 years ago

The current zoning requires a 3 foot setback from each side lot line. Many of the existing houses were constructed before there were any zoning requirements.

Michael Weeks
Michael Weeks
4 years ago

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lbp
lbp
4 years ago

So sad to use Richmond Magazine to complain about the new block, neighbors and neighborhood where you have CHOSEN to build – A block with residents who have been here over half a century, a decade or merely months and love it. May not be the best way to endear oneself to the folks you might find yourself sharing sidewalk with soon. Hope the next installment reflects more positivity, less whining and less mud slinging against people you have not met.

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
4 years ago

@6 comp, I agree. Houses you see on top one another were built before certain codes existed. Now you need space for fire and health codes with access on both sides. Has anyone else picked up on the insults here… ” ,,,you’ve got to stare down the purists, appease the preservationists and earn approval from the persnickety Richmond Commission of Architectural Review (CAR). ” When you move to a historic neighborhood that is listed on two registries (local Old & Historic and the National Registry), you have certain obligations to maintain it. Not unlike associations in the suburbs. I hope… Read more »

Erin Kristen Doolin
Erin Kristen Doolin
4 years ago

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Richard r
Richard r
4 years ago

Garry, I actually laughed when I read the comment about staring down purists and appeasing preservationists, but that is because I know Jason has a great sense of humor and is just trying to be funny. i took it as a general, unfair, but well intended comment about church hill preservation types and not about anyone on that block. If you have been there for a while you represent the true ‘preservationists’ and I wish there were more stories on the news about folks like you. As important and helpful as preservation and new construction are, there would be no… Read more »

Matt Jarreau
Matt Jarreau
4 years ago

Amy and Jason are very sweet people and ideal neighbors. They had kids when they moved here, had a children while living here and are deciding to stay and raise their kids in the city which they live vs. leave us for the burbs. Their comments are a reflection of their first experience designing and developing this parcel in a CAR district. Anyone would tell you its challenging especially if you are trying to design and build for your family. The comments are taken out of context. I would be surprised if they wished anyone any ill will especially their… Read more »

garry
garry
4 years ago

Word Richard r, Thanks for the knowing insight. Life is grand and so is living on the Hill. The fabric of our neighborhood is strong and unique, looking forwards to more threads being added.

garry
garry
4 years ago

Yo realtor Matt I copied the the magazines words. I took nothing out of context. If you think the magazine took the words out of context let them know. I did not do so. You have sold property on the block and you reached out to meet more people than they have before tossing out an article about the neighborhood. If your boy took creative liberty with his words that’s fine but why flame the neighbors you will be living with for many years to come, unless as you say they choose to head for the burbs. Most of us… Read more »

Clay St
Clay St
4 years ago

This looks like a great series. John, thanks for posting, and thanks to Amy and Jason for sharing as you go along.

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
4 years ago

I guess the wording was unfortunate. If it was meant to be a joke, It came off sounding like those who want to preserve our neighborhood are pains in the ass. Many of us are passionate to maintain the historic fabric so are a bit sensitive especially since we have been hoodwinked in the past. I am glad that the new neighbors will be welcome part of our community.

Ned Haley
Ned Haley
4 years ago

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Hill Runner
Hill Runner
4 years ago

I think it is worth noting that according to the notes from the CAR meetings someone came from the neighborhood to speak against them at both meetings. It doesn’t detail what exactly was said, but perhaps it left a bad impression on them.

morgan
morgan
4 years ago

sigh…..
and you wonder why comments are made regarding one’s neighbors…
garry, go introduce yourself. and stop the whining.

wobobee
wobobee
4 years ago

Yes, Hill Runner. Someone from THE BLOCK spoke against them at both meetings. Not sure why people who have no idea what happened at these meetings insist on complaining about Jason’s description of his experience…

urbngrilla
urbngrilla
4 years ago

the magazine publisher is getting exactly what he wants! church hill is a safe bet for lottza drama a’la buzzys-abc controversy. conflict makes for a more compelling story and sells ad space as the eyeballs just–can’t–turn away.

David
David
4 years ago

Some of the comments about the article feel unusually harsh. When I read “But before you ever put shovel to earth in Church Hill’s historic district, you’ve got to stare down the purists, appease the preservationists and earn approval from the persnickety Richmond Commission of Architectural Review (CAR).”…It made me chuckle as I’m certain this was the intention of the author. The humorous part is there’s a certain amount of truth behind the comment. And I say this as a long-time Church Hill resident and property owner who cares about responsible development in the hood. I’ve also had numerous interactions… Read more »

East Grace
East Grace
4 years ago

Morgan,
Thank you for taking the time to research this. Just goes to show we shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
4 years ago

From what I recall, the CAR is supposed to be a review board that considers and either rejects or approves design (engineering plans) proposals. That they are bound by guidelines per design, size, materials, etc…as well as making sure any new builds or remodeling changes complement the surrounding period architecture. They are (were?) a part of the city and use to have their committee member’s emails a part of the city employee directory or an email contact for the board in general on their web page. With this current committee that is not so. It is like they are freelancing… Read more »

garry
garry
4 years ago

morgan i do wonder why the writer painted the neighborhood with such a negative broad brush and your curt comment doesn’t stop me from doing so. What you call whining I call asking for details.

garry
garry
4 years ago

Amy and Jason I now understand what you mean. Your lack of commenting shows that you are wise people who have a life and better things to do with their time. Lesson learned. I’m glad you guys are building here. Your family and the vibe you bring will be a great addition to this tight knit block. This will be a sweet place to watch time pass and kids grow. Welcome neighbors.

Alicia Hogue Conrad
Alicia Hogue Conrad
4 years ago

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Mark Kronenthal
Mark Kronenthal
4 years ago

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