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BHC will present Citadel of Hope plans at next Union Hill Civic Association meeting

The next Union Hill Civic Association Meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 7th, from 6:30 – 7:45 PM at Tricycle Gardens? Headquarters (2312 Jefferson Ave).

The agenda includes a presentation by Better Housing Coalition (BHC) of their plans for the development of the Citadel of Hope (property at Jessamine and Venable Streets) and an update by Sector 111’s Lt. McRoy.

After the meeting, all are invited to Union Market to greet friends and continue conversations.







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Disappointed 09/01/2016 at 9:09 AM

Better housing is a great organization but this is an extremely disappointing project. I’m not even sure where to begin.

The renderings look like the non brick portion of Gilpen Court. The colors are extremely bland. I drive down everyday day and the view from Carrington which is a prominent street is of a dumpster enclosure and the back of a building.

Not sure how that could possibly be in line with CAR standards and I am shocked in general how the architects failed to even consider the view from that street.

That said drive down Carrington today and you will see that behind this property Carrington has become a one way street because BHC has let large shrubs and vines get so overgrown into the street that 2 cars can no longer pass each other. So clearly they don’t care at all about those affected by the back of this property.

The front of his building is on an absolutely fantastic block of historic homes. In my opinion one of the nicest in all of Union Hill. I am not opposed to a more modern concept but this is the type of architecture that does not age well and will soon if not immediately look very out of place.

I don’t get it. Looks like more cheap construction and more concentration of poverty. I think BHC does nice tasteful single family affordable homes that are great as well as some other rental property like the reconstruction/repurpose of Beckstoffers but this project is hideous.

Chris 09/01/2016 at 11:53 AM


Lee 09/01/2016 at 3:51 PM

Why couldn’t they take some design cues from a property like the one at the following address:

(is it possible to post photos on the comments?)

Not that this building in particular is all that remarkable, or that the layout needs to exactly follow a historic plan, but surely they could use Richmond vernacular architecture as a starting point? Richmond has plenty of examples of this style of architecture. Four-plex, eight-plex,and multi-unit lowrise complexes like those found on 32nd St, Chimborazo, and I think P or O street (as well as around Ellwood near carytown) offer great examples of simple but attractive designs. The barton heights property I’ve already mentioned has a great facade on the front, but the designer might want to look toward one of the complexes near the VCU/grace street area that has a row of porches on the side for additional design inspiration. I can’t think of the exact area/address I have in mind to post links to photos, sadly.

There are also plenty of grand buildings of comparable stature with larger apartments on grace, boulevard, and monument, but these are a bit over the top for the area, and don’t seem as distinctively “Richmond”

In any event, there are plenty of well-proportioned, attractive buildings that could easily serve as a departure point for a new design, and having a relatively plain structure with a single portion that is more elaborately decorated (a front facade, entrance, or focal point) seems like it would solve design problems without resulting in excessive cost.

If anyone loves or hates the buildings I’ve mentioned, say so, but I think it would be better if you mentioned an architectural reference of your own – rather than stating what we don’t want, why don’t we talk about what we do want?

Lora 09/01/2016 at 4:19 PM

I’ve been a big fan of the Better Housing Coalition for close to 20 years now, and applaud the fantastic work they do to provide decent affordable housing in Richmond. Unlike Disappointed, I don’t think this is hideous. I do have some pretty significant concerns about Buildings 2 and 3 after looking at the drawings, though. The Jessamine and Venable Street elevations appear to be completely out of scale for the neighborhood, and totally overwhelm the houses opposite them. This is becoming a recurring theme in proposals for new construction in Union Hill, and it really concerns me. The fight to make Union Hill a City Old and Historic District was pretty divisive, and my neighbors in favor of it took a stand to preserve the historic character of the neighborhood, including massing, scale, and setback among other things. It troubles me that the proposals I’ve seen for new construction lately have, to a project, completely overwhelmed the existing buildings near them. Is there no other way to get the density needed to make the financing work?

Don O'Keefe 09/01/2016 at 8:45 PM

The scale is good. It could be larger. I think adjacent objects of different scales can form good compositions, as in a still life.

Also, the city needs increased density. As a society, we should choose to reform our urban environments such that effectively all people working in tertiary sectors live without automobiles. We have done very little in the regard.

The historic character can be challenged. It can be disrespected or respected as long as it has been considered.

I strongly disagree with the decision to locate the playground on a street corner. The fabric is far too fragile to support this lack of definition.

Lee 09/02/2016 at 11:20 AM

“The historic character can be challenged. It can be disrespected or respected as long as it has been considered.”

I don’t necessarily disagree with this notion as long as the end product is good. But I feel like the only design solution that architects up here have is either streamlined, stripped down traditionalism (weak), or vaguely Bauhaus influenced functionalism that fails to address site specific aesthetics. I’d love to see an art-deco-steampunk house. Or something modernisma. Something utterly new and alien, but just as highly decorated as the neighboring buildings. I think it would be much better to have buildings that neighbors hate because they are too different, than because they are too boring. I could say more, but other folks should talk. As I said in my previous post, I think it would be a lot more helpful to tell designers, builders, and the like what we DO WANT, rather than what we DON’T WANT.


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