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Packed room for public meeting on Glenwood Ridge Apartments

Shane Doran from the Humanities Foundation and lawyer T. Preston Lloyd, Jr. of Williams Mullen faced a curious and at least semi-hostile crowd of about 50 at the Family Resource Center this evening, presenting and taking questions on the proposed Glenwood Ridge Apartments at a meeting organized by Councilwoman Newbille.

The proposed development consists of two 3-story (on a podium) apartment buildings on the site of the old trolley barn off of Glennwood Avenue. The 82 unit complex will consist of 12 1-bedroom units, 46 2-bedroom units, and 24 3-bedroom units, with maximum rents of $815 for 1 bedroom units, $978 for 2 bedroom units, and $1,129 for 3-bedroom. Doran stated that the rents would likely be about $100 lower. The project as drawn has over 150 parking spaces.


Shane Doran


Glenwood Ridge Apartments


The units are mandated to be affordable (based on the tax credits applied for), and would be mandated to be so for the next 35 years.

The project is by-right based on the the zoning (zoned R-63 in 2010), with 82 units an effective under-utilization of the potential density of the location. The project is in the early stages and still need to go before Planning and to be permitted by the city. Doran stated that they hope to have permits by April.

The density/scale/massing of the buildings and the “affordable housing” tag were areas of concern based on questions from the audience.

While Doran states that he is not involved in “any active or inactive” conversations about other property in the area, he did say that he had been in contact with Frank Wood about adjacent properties up the hill.

The development documents were first brought to Planning and Review on November 23, 2016. Cynthia Newbille was only made aware of the proposal after calls from the community after the demolition permit was recently discussed here.

The Humanities Foundation is a South Carolina non-profit developer of affordable and workforce housing, with a for-profit arm that manages the properties once built. The Humanities Foundation has 11 developments completed or underway in Virginia, though only 3 are shown on their website. They recently had a project denied by the Hopewell City Council.

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Commodus 02/07/2017 at 8:04 PM

How does the non profit /for profit thing work?

It seems weird to have a non profit developer who then pushes everything on to a for profit management group.

After a brief bit of looking it seems that the Humanties Foundation is run by a Tracy T. Doran while a Robert J. Doran, Jr. runs the management company, JDC.

Not sure that’s a terrible thing, but it seems like a tree some one should bark up.

Dave 02/07/2017 at 8:56 PM

Let’s all gather together and urge city council to change the zoning from R-63 for the parcel of land
north of this property. If this can be done it will eliminate the possibility (and likelihood based on the developers vaugeness) that an extension of this development, or a similar one, can be built. The developer won this round. Let’s even the score! Everyone in attendance at tonight’s meeting should have gotten a sense for how shady this developer is.

Eric Huffstutler 02/07/2017 at 9:27 PM

Sorry I was not there but, did anyone bring up the issue of “location” as in the congestion of low income housing already in that area? It seemed to have been a big issue with the project thread. Sounds like all they focused on was the affordability aspect and then, dealing with “tax credits”. If the “tax credits” are anything like the so called Affordable Care Act with Obamacare, then the poorest of the poor will not qualify for credits to be able to afford the apartments. How do people get around that if they are not able to work due to disabilities or age and have very limited income hence “low income”? Please educate me on that. Also, the lack of accessibility to grocery, bus line, and other daily resources in that area?

Paul 02/07/2017 at 9:46 PM

The developer and some of the low income housing cheerleaders in the back of the room played a lot of misdirection games with maximums and minimums. Maximum rents and maximum incomes. Minimum 10% voucher candidates. They cried $43,000 is not poverty!! No, it isn’t but that is maximum. Most will make below the maximum. And many will make far below than the maximum and will be using housing vouchers. Make no mistake the developer will take as many housing voucher candidates as they can because the government is more reliable in cutting checks than people living paycheck to paycheck. So yes, there will be a concentration of poverty. Maybe not the lowest of low poverty. But poverty nonetheless.

A concerned member of the audience asked questions about minimum qualifications of applicants with regards to FICO score, criminal record, and whether or not that criminal record included violent offenders. The individual asking the question worked in the apartment industry and stated his company had such minimum standards. Yet the developer simply dodged the question entirely. If they had reasonable standards sharing them with the audience would have done a lot to calm concerns. The fact that he avoided the topic entirely to me is very telling.

Anyone who lives in proximity to this site knows that Glenwood Road is narrow, unsafe and lacks continuous sidewalks. When a concerned resident who lives across the street from the site asked “how would you recommend I engage the city to improve the quality and safety of Glenwood Road?” the developer had the gall to basically say the road is fine and we’ve done developments on busier streets. I began to wonder if this man had any soul.

Adding essentially 250-350 residents onto Glenwood who have low car ownership rates means there will be a steady stream of people walking up the hill to the Chimbo Mart and the bus stop. We will also have elementary school children walking this unsafe route to Chimbo Elementary. The developer doesn’t care. “I’m not going to pave the neighborhood”.

My expectation is that this development will continue the fast track. There is little we can do to even get them to alter it in anyway they don’t want to. They want to have their permits by April and break ground shortly thereafter. What I’m most concerned about is one this breaks ground is whether or not the two adjacent/nearby parcels zoned R-63 will also then aim to replicate this sham. If that happens then we’ll basically have around 300 units and 1000-1200 low income people living on Glenwood. Stressing our public services and schools. Hello Creighton Lite…

Mars 02/07/2017 at 9:50 PM

The biggest question I have is where do we go from here? Besides selling, what recourse do we, as adjacent property owners have? This is not acceptable.

Eric Huffstutler 02/07/2017 at 10:12 PM

@4 Mars. Are you talking about property values? Crime? Or something else? Your post brings up another question… just how far away is enough distance from those on the other side of the creek too make a difference? Or should it be an issue at all considering there hasn’t been a problem before now?

The question at hand is the concentration of low income housing on top of more low income housing rather than finding another location within the city where it is more needed.

Dave 02/08/2017 at 2:26 AM

Any predictions as to the property values for those folks located around or off of Chimborazo park?

Neighbor 02/08/2017 at 8:08 AM

Can someone that understands R-63 zoning better than I do explain how that 4-story building is “by right”? Max height in R-63 for non-corner buildings is 35ft. That building has to be taller than 35ft. Anyone?

Neighbor 02/08/2017 at 8:12 AM

#2 Dave: the best way to prevent future “extensions” of this project or any other similar projects won’t be to seek rezoning. That will be tough to accomplish and take years. Rather, someone needs to keep an eye on applications coming into VHDA and gather community support to oppose them in force during the public hearing windows, while also getting our local councilperson and Mayor’s office involved. That’s how you stop future projects like this.

Nia Strei 02/08/2017 at 8:14 AM

Why should we allow the city to demolish he Trolley Barn without a fight to retain or incorporate it into any ultimate development? The city deemed this building to be of historic significance in their master plan. The developer said last night that Ms. Chen had indicated that CAR was fine with the demolition proposed. Maybe ( a lot of ) phone calls to her office would make a difference?!

Hill Runner 02/08/2017 at 8:46 AM

@#8 It seems there is an exception if the bottom floor is at least half comprised of parking.

Maximum height in special cases. A maximum height of four stories shall be permitted in the case of a building in which not less than 50 percent of the area of the ground floor is devoted to accessory parking deck use in compliance with the provisions of Section 30-419.4(5), provided that in such case no story shall exceed ten feet in height.

Cadeho 02/08/2017 at 9:03 AM

Better off being a commercial site for a grocery store or something…

ian 02/08/2017 at 9:52 AM

The current state of the approval process is administrative and the head of the relevant office was also there last night. Dies anyone have his office’s contact office?

I am not quite sure how wide his office’s discretion is but it seems to me most of our concerns can be phrased as issues in the “fits with surrounding development” category of issues that the office is supposed to consider.

The big issues that seem relevant to that category are:
– The project terminates on a road with no sidewalk yet the residents are expected to have a low rate of car ownership, which the developer stated is a documented fact for affordable housing developments

That means that either the city will need to build and maintain sidewalks or we will have a steady stream of people walking up a blind road. That will include elementary aged children going to and from school.

– The road this project terminates on is insufficiently wide to accommodate the additional traffic from the cars that this development is building parking for. Glenwood is already more of a 1.5 lane road than a full 2 lane road. The partial sidewalk that the developer is proposing to build, which would only run the length of the property and not connect to sidewalks on either end, is only going to be possible if they can build in the city’s right of way. That will mean the street cannot be widened in future to accommodate the traffic from this and any future developments.

– The development’s exclusive focus on low and moderate income housing will exacerbate a concentration of poverty at the fringe of the city where existing city services do not reach and where new services will be most expensive to add.

Anyone have additional concerns that fall into the umbrella of how this development fits with the surrounding developments? I think we need to express these concerns to the planning office and that seems like the most appropriate and productive way to present them.

Please let me know if I have any of those details wrong or am missremembering any of the meeting.

Kay9 02/08/2017 at 11:33 AM

@7. They will certainly take a hit. The desirability quotient just dropped significantly. A good comparison would be the homes on or around Princess Anne. Those properties just don’t see great price appreciation due to proximity to Mosby. They might be great houses but the market is very small for those who want to share digs With a project.
This development would do no favors for the surrounding neighbors. Sell now while the getting is good.

Clay Street 02/08/2017 at 1:15 PM


Lots of coded language about “those people” used by a room full of white people. Hard to not notice that.

That being said, I felt that there ARE truly valid concerns about concentration of poverty and site-specific infrastructure issues that are deserving of better attention, management and oversight than the permitting and zoning process currently allows.

Mr. Doran seemed like he was straight out of central casting for “greedy developer jerk” and the attorney looked like Topher Grace from That Seventies Show.

I’m really bummed out about the dismissiveness of Mr. Doran, he obviously DGAF about any of the neighborhood concerns.

Our councilperson switched into campaign mode at the end and I was not appreciative of the direction into which she decided to steer everyone. I appreciated her being there, but she didn’t offer anything substantial in terms of collective community concerns.

Eric Huffstutler 02/08/2017 at 2:56 PM

Over at Nextdoor, someone made a concern post about the developer and managing company does not screen it’s residents for Felonies or Sex Offenders as told to them by both. This is a concern but at the same time, landlords can ask as part of the contract (and place a clause in it for tenants to do due diligence on their part) and find through a credit check if the tenant has a record but can not disclose themselves to other tenants if someone has a record. Megan’s Law requires sex offenders to register their resident moves, which are public access. Rental contracts can ask if you are a felon and if someone lies and it is found out, the landlord can evict them due to breach of contract. My concern would be the child sex offenders who try to bypass the system and have a restriction to how far they can be from children yet living in the next apartment.

Actually, poverty level is something like under $12,000 for a single person. And what irks me, people who make below that are not qualified for tax credits for Obamacare so can not afford insurance. Normally this is where Medicaid will kick in but Virginia voted against continuing it so, the poorest of the poor are out of luck with healthcare… but I digress about the housing situation (but was related to my question about “low income” people living there who also need housing).

It sounds like the meeting was only held to go through the motions offering lip service, while the developer had no intentions of being derailed from their plans hence their dodging questions, and their tone answering others. And Newbille is apparently on their side. Again, my questioning her true intent or vision for our historic district.

And as far as Chen approving the demolition of the Trolley building. It is not in any protected historic area even if the building is historic. That is where we need to address the lack of coverage with these historic area borders and amend the different district registries so there are no border gaps or doughnut holes.

35th & M 02/08/2017 at 3:39 PM

My takeaway from the meeting is that all of the frustrations were directed to developer rather than our councilperson.

@13 I am also very concerned about the width of the road but is it a true “deal breaker” for this moving forward? If so how can this issue be elevated quickly? It seems they will be breaking ground soon.

Nia 02/08/2017 at 3:59 PM

WRT THE TROLLEY BARN DEMO: This is excerpted from the “Old and Historic Richmond Design Guidelines” published by the City–To Wit:
There may instances when a property owner applies to the Commission for demolition of a building that is considered “historic” by virtue of the 50-year threshold, but the building design may be
of such minor significance that the building is classified as noncontributing to the historic character of the District. If the building
also meets one or more of the other criteria listed (i.e. if it is severely
deteriorated, a source or blight or the demolition request will make way for new infill construction “more appropriate to the District” (emphasis added), etc.),the Commission may vote to approve the demolition. As with all
potential demolitions, however, each case is approved or rejected on its own merits.
2) The effect that demolition will have on the surrounding neighborhood: Individual buildings are significant contributing elements to the immediate area in which they are located. Removal
of that building may have a positive effect on the neighborhood, but quite often demolitions have the opposite effect, producing a negative and irreversible impact to the streetscape. Since the Commission is charged with the preservation of entire Districts,and not just individual buildings and structures, adherence to these
criteria is appropriate and justified.
3) ***The type and quality of the project that will replace the demolished building: When demolition requests are made in
conjunction with designs for a replacement structure, the overall
quality of the new design is an appropriate factor in determining
the merits of demolition***(again, emphasis added). The Commission may vote to approve
demolition of a non-contributing building when provided detailed plans for appropriate, compatible infill construction. Conversely,
a demolition request to accommodate the installation of an open parking lot with little or no screening would almost certainly be
rejected. In most cases, a demolition permit will not be issued until the Commission has approved the design of a replacement structure.
4) The historic preservation goals outlined in the Master Plan and Downtown Plan: The overriding goal of both documents is to facilitate the preservation, rehabilitation and adaptive re-use of the City’s valuable architectural history. To the degree that proposed demolitions do not run counter to this goal, reasonable and objective consideration may be given to such requests.
Property owners are advised to explore all options available to them prior to requesting permission to demolish a building or structure.
Depending on the condition of the building and the nature of the intended use, owners should consider the potential the building holds for rehabilitation. Many historic buildings are well suited to adaptive re-use projects, and the Rehabilitation section of this chapter found on pages 54-55 details this process.
As a potential aid to property owners considering adaptive reuse as an alternative to demolition, the Commission may make recommendations to the Planning Commission and to the Board of Zoning Appeals for exceptions to standard zoning requirements,including setbacks, off-street parking and open space and landscaping.
Property owners may also choose to consider the possibility of relocation, which is addressed on pages 76-77 of this document.
In the event that the Commission denies a demolition request, the property owner may appeal to City Council for the right to carry out
the demolition if that owner can show proof that reasonable efforts have been made to offer to sell the property at fair-market value to
individuals or groups willing to preserve and restore the building for continued use. A list showing minimum sale periods based on the value of the property subject to the demolition request is shown below.
The option to sell property is available to owners anytime before applying to the Commission for approval of a demolition.
Documented proof that reasonable attempts to sell the building or structure had failed would be taken under consideration by the Commission in its review of the demolition request.
Property Valued At: Minimum Sale Period
<$25,000 3 months
$25-40,000 4 months
$40-55,000 5 months
$55-75,000 6 months
$75-90,000 7 months
$90,000 or more 12 months

ian 02/08/2017 at 5:07 PM

So it sounds like there are two opportunities for the city to scuttle the development, first by denying the development plan and second by denyingthe demolition permit.

Interestingly, last night the developer breezed past both the historical review and the granting of the demolition permits as done deals but it seems like those processes cannot even formally begin until the plan of development is approved.

It sounds like those are the two office’s we need to engage with. Does anyone have relevant contact information?

Neighbor 02/08/2017 at 5:32 PM

Ian: there is NO historical review. CAR doesn’t have a say in this project as this lies outside of the Old & Historic District. Look up the maps – it’s clear. The way to scuttle this is by going to the city and having them deny the plan of development, though I don’t know how effective this will be. Again this is NOT in CAR

Eric Huffstutler 02/08/2017 at 6:03 PM

I believe Marianne Pitts is the person at CAR who makes the final approvals.

The assessor’s office thinks the building is in fair condition for its age (not poor condition) per the property listing and is worth 64% of the entire property value so must have worth and not blighted. Wasn’t it occupied by Main Stage Productions and someone else after that? Or rented for events?

Building permit # 1976 was issued in 1911 for the Richmond and Henrico Railway. Co. for a trolley car barn and machine shop.

Eric Huffstutler 02/08/2017 at 6:08 PM

@30 Neighbor, you are correct. It falls outside both the Old & Historic (O&H) as well as any Federal Historic Neighborhood Registry (DHR). I made that clear as well in my other posts and my mentioning Marianne Pitts is to appease those who question a contact for CAR approvals…. now and in the future.

Nia 02/08/2017 at 6:16 PM

The property is still occupied by some business entities and there is business activity there on a regular basis, with minimal traffic.

Eric Huffstutler 02/08/2017 at 6:42 PM

While we are here, I will make a shameless plug 🙂

Back in March 2014, I wrote an accredited article about the history of the trolley system in Richmond (first successful electric system in America started right here in Church Hill) which may be of interest…starts on page 18. Here is the link to the CHA Newsletter:


Eric Huffstutler 02/08/2017 at 6:52 PM

@23 Nia… Thanks. I thought it was. So, why is it being demolished? For some reason in the back of my mind, wasn’t there talk at one time of making it into some sort of dinner theater, restaurant, or arts center along the lines of the Robinson Theater? Or a combination of them?

Maybe make it into a local history museum with a focus on lost Fulton. Or at the low end, a rental storage facility. There are plenty of things the long old and well built building can be used for. Try incorporating it into the property or better yet, move the apartment project elsewhere and focus on doing something with the Trolley Car Barn and save a piece of history.

Michelle W 02/08/2017 at 8:41 PM

I am not sure who to contact with this question, but would it be possible to schedule a follow up meeting for concerned citizens (without the developer at the front of the room) to talk about potential next steps we can take urgently as a community to, if not stop completely right away, at least delay the permitting for a reasonable amount of time until more issues are resolved? It seems like even though the development was presented as though it would move forward, there are numerous points where it could be interrupted with the concerted work of our community. Given the developer’s obvious frustration at having to answer citizens’ questions last night for just over an hour, and his haste to get the project moving or risk losing the tax credits, it would seem that a diligent effort to disrupt each remaining step of the project could be discouragement enough for this developer (who appeared more interested in profiting from his non-profit development/for-profit management scheme above the concerns of the community or the needs of his future residents) to move along. As the discussion last night touched on, there are many discussions ahead of us on how to maintain and continue building more affordable housing in Church Hill, and these efforts are vital to the future of our community. However, the approach matters; the meeting did not offer any assurance that this particular developer would be an ideal person to take on any part of this effort. I had the clear sense that he is quite unfamiliar with the neighborhood and has little interest in becoming more acquainted, is unconcerned with the health and safety of the residents (especially children!) who are tenants of his properties, and has minimal investment in any part of the project except that rents are paid to him each month. I worry that someone with so little commitment to our city or community would fully disappear from any type of community engaged discussion and ignore feedback from tenants and neighbors alike the moment the permits are granted, which is not helpful for anyone.

Paul 02/08/2017 at 10:11 PM

I went to the developer’s website to get names of their projects. Focusing on the Family Apartments rather than the Senior Apartments. Found reviews for Puddledock Place in Prince George VA. Almost entirely one star reviews on including this one:

“Office management has been extremely bad. Not only do they fail to do something about the loitering of people in the breeze ways at all times of the day/night, but the children run rampant from building to building up and down the stairs. The police are here daily due to the million and one domestic issues that takes place. The floors/walls are paper thin to the point where you smell weed practically all day and night. The office is closed on the weekend so good luck handling any kind of business during the week, unless you don’t work. That seems the running theme around here…rent at your own risk of safety and sanity.”

Concentrating low income/poverty/etc is a failed model. Mixed income and scattered site low income housing are widely accepted as the preferred models now. Yet large developments like these repeat the failed formulas of the past to line the pockets of the few.

Our city government is having to spend tens of millions of dollars over the next decade to revamp Creighton Court as mixed income. It seems like Style Weekly and RTD have long form pieces every other month that highlight how places like Creighton, Gilpin, etc have failed a generation of Richmond’s disadvantaged. We can’t sit back and let this all happen all over again just because of R-63 zoning…

Neighbor 02/08/2017 at 10:27 PM

@Paul – wake up! This is happening not because of R-63 zoning but because our local government is asleep at the wheel! Mayor’s office, Councilperson, and planning!

If you want to do something about this, reach out to planning and see what can be done.

Paul 02/09/2017 at 8:05 AM

@Neighbor – huh, were you at the meeting? The Director of Planning was there. He was indifferent. All he talked about was R-63 Zoning over and over again. That if we didn’t support this sort of outcome that we had a chance between 2007 and 2010 to provide input during the zoning master plan update… I don’t see him as an ally nor did the councilperson Newbill seem like she cared about any of our feedback other than the road/sidewalk condition. She mostly spoke in platitudes.

CISCO 02/09/2017 at 10:40 AM

First of this whole project does not make any sense! The area needs to be rezoned. There is no need for a supermarket a block away from another one. There is the Chimbo market up the hill, Farm Fresh is on main, Food Lion is on Williamsburg and Charles city road intersection, Kroger’s, Aldi is coming up, and a WALMART. Seriously! Are you lazy?

This developer is planning on putting approx. 84 units with maybe 2 parking space per unit which is 168 cars if at full capacity. 2 heart beats per bedroom. The parking lot leads directly to Glenwood ave.

In reality, it should be renamed to be Glenwood “street or lane”. Glenwood is a narrow street. It cannot be widening enough to be consider an Avenue! You are planning on two entrances/ exits directly on that narrow st which is a problem.

The people with driveways have a hard time pulling in and out as it is now. I’ve witness way too many car accidents ending up in the vacant lot which is exactly where the developers is thinking about building. The morning rush hour traffic is BAD! Traffic is back up on broad st all the way past 25th. So why cram more people in an area that is already congested?

There’s already a small complex above the hill looking down with a decent view. Picture another complex directly below that, no privacy at all. The home owners that physically live on the block would have to look at that cramped up building every day and deal with the nuisance of traffic, more people, and crime! There are constant gunshots going off all the time. And have I called? YES. Anything been done about it? NO. OH even better I found a revolver cylinder loaded with bullets on the ground. I called. I don’t see any police presence. Yall must thing this place is all smooth as gravy but IT AINT! Nobody should be living in these conditions in this area.

Richmond City is consistently shutting the Glenwood down to fix water pipes. There is trash which never gets cleaned up. Glenwood never get mowed well rarely once every 1.5 years or so. But other placed get more attention. There are massive pot holes which had been there for years! I’ve put in several complaints since 2008 and NOTHING BEEN DONE! There is OVERGROWN BAMBOO growing in the resident’s back yard COVERING the base of POWER LINES on that street. Guess what?! Dominion or the CIty never done anything about it since 2008. There is a telephone line ON THE GROUND that does work however the phone company claims it’s a power line but it’s not cuz I helped the neighbor move it out the street! But After all the complaints I have put in since 2008 nothings been done!

So this back to topic…. What makes you think putting this “SELF MAINTAINED” low income/ affordable project in this spot better over the existing problems?

Just by you building in this spot does not justify to say maintenance will be done more frequently and traffic solve itself. Do you not care about the quality of living?
That area would be better off with single family home with some land similar to the houses on that block and the surrounding area. Go back to drawing board, reassess the area, get some ideas, then input from the community about your ideas BEFORE YOU SUBMIT YOUR PAPERS TO THE CITY!

Dave 02/09/2017 at 10:42 AM

From the city website…”The intent of the R-63 Multi-Family Residential district is to encourage development of a medium-density neighborhood comprised of a mix of residential uses while promoting a pedestrian-oriented urban environment.” I say this project does not fall within this intent. It does NOT include a “mix of residential uses” by limiting itself to low income residents. It does NOT promote a pedestrian-oriented environment, it doesn’t have sidewalks. And the building height issue still hasn’t been completely settled. The developer refused to say what the heights were. “Main buildings” cannot exceed 35 ft. I tried to call the number on the website for planning and got a recorder stating that no one was at that number. If this is how the city wants to move forward, perhaps I don’t want to move forward with this city!

Eric Huffstutler 02/09/2017 at 6:38 PM

From what people are saying, it appears this developer has no interest in what the community has to say and Newbille is supporting them. I would not lay this on the newly appointed Mayor, Levar Stoney’s doorstep. Instead, reach out to his office to see if he is aware of what is going on with this project and the indifferent attitude of the developer. Also, contact the City Council President, Chris Hilbert, and alert him about the project and Newbille’s reactions.

John M 02/09/2017 at 6:51 PM

@Eric Huffstutle – I would not say that Newbille is supporting (or is opposed to) this development.

My read is that she was annoyed by how this whole process had been handled so far. Recall that she is the one who called the public meeting and got this in front of everyone.

Eric Huffstutler 02/09/2017 at 7:09 PM

@33 John… I am hoping she was not “influenced” in any way by the developer? I would accept that she seemed genuinely annoyed but, did she step in to act as the voice of her constituents at the meeting and ask the hard questions while not backing down until she got the answers? I wonder just what weight she has concerning the advancement or blockage of the project process?

John M 02/09/2017 at 7:15 PM

That’s not her style, as much as some of y’all might want it to be. Newbille’s main approach is to seek compromise, through the built in processes of things.

If any group of folks were to organize towards having some influence on this, I expect that she’d be very willing to have that conversation.

Eric Huffstutler 02/09/2017 at 9:24 PM

Since I was not at the meeting, all I can go on is what others have said they witnessed or experienced. The consensus seems to be that the developer and management come across as money grubbing opportunists who run things like slumlords, and only interested in obtaining government money. It takes backbone to stand up against businesses like that and if people in Church Hill, Chimborazo, and Ashley Oaks need to ban together to shake things up, then I guess it is up to us to make things happen to obtain transparency with these people from South Carolina.

Dave 02/10/2017 at 5:25 AM

@35: I’m not an expert on how to fight this sort of thing, but I am willing to participate in a group of folks who will try to. Who else wants to band together on this? We need to take immediate action if this developer is pushing for a building permit approval by April, as mentioned in the meeting.

animal lover 02/10/2017 at 9:01 AM

Is there anyone who knows how to fight this? or at least prevent even more “communities” like the one proposed to be built on the remaining lots? I think there is an interest to prevent this but we we need to someone with some knowledge of the processes.

David 02/10/2017 at 10:15 AM

Has a plan of development been filed with the city?
If it has, this would be a starting point to oppose the plan with the city.

David 02/10/2017 at 11:05 AM

Some of the comments make very good points to build opposition to this development with Planning.

1. Creating unsafe conditions in re: public safety
The very nature of this project would suggest that many of the residents will not have vehicles. For reference, look at the parking lots surrounding Ashley Oaks- very few cars- full occupancy. That being said, how will the residents of this community travel to obtain services? Likely, by walking on narrow streets, traveling blind corners- all with no sidewalks. Walking up the hill to get to school, bus stops, the market, etc. on a narrow, busy street with no sidewalks is an accident waiting to happen.

Although the development of the property may be “by right”, an unsafe condition created as a result of the development cannot be ignored by planning.

Who is going to spring for the sidewalks? I doubt the developer would and this is certainly not a priority in the city budget.

Some of the conditions placed on the developer could make it economically unfeasible to move forward.

2. Have toxic substances ever been used or stored on this property? Who would pay to remediate? EPA involvement…

3. Are the surrounding property owners aware of this development? This development, as proposed, has no upside for them. Petitions in opposition of the plan would be well considered.

Eric Huffstutler 02/10/2017 at 1:46 PM

@40 David, I am not sure about your question #2 concerning toxic substances being used or stored there. Keep in mind that this was built as a trolley barn in 1911, before any EPA regulations. I am sure they stored oil, grease, and solvents there. The trolley system ended in 1949 though tracks were being torn up as early as 1945. And, not certain if they converted it to a bus shed or not… needs investigating. With that said, I am sure the city inspected the property sometime afterwards. When the last full-time tenant was there, they rented tents and equipment for concert events.

Ok, let’s say that we get the developer to move the project and we win. What next after fighting for the property as well as saving the old trolley barn building? Will it just be all cast aside for years again with no plans?

Rob Pate 02/12/2017 at 8:55 AM

I like the idea of arguing in writing that it does NOT meet R-63 requirements as mentioned in a previous post. (I cant seem to relocate the very informed post to give cred) It would need to be done pronto. Could someone speak at the next city council meeting?

Eric Huffstutler 02/12/2017 at 12:01 PM

Hey Rob… that would be @31 Dave above.

Dave 02/12/2017 at 9:41 PM

Thanks for the backing Rob @42. The next city council meeting is tomorrow evening at 6:00pm. I don’t see anything on the posted agenda that this development will be discussed. I sent an email letter to Dr. Newbille last week stating my concerns and opinions but did not receive a response. I will rewrite and send a new email to each council member tomorrow. Also, I see that the next Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for 2/21 yet no agenda is posted. I don’t know exactly what that means.

Martha Looney 02/14/2017 at 9:57 PM

Request a follow up meeting.

The more we requrst, the more likely we can get the meeting.

Eric Huffstutler 02/16/2017 at 5:10 PM

I am only going to say this. It is not just me but other people have tried many times over the years to contact Newbille via email about various things. She never replies and at best, you “may” receive a response from her sidekick, Sam Patterson. When it comes to asking questions that requires answers that do not fit into her vision or agenda… good luck hearing back. I would, and have, gone down to City Hall to arrange a face-to-face meeting in the past. That may be your best bet. I have had no dealings with Olinger but other council people are more open to communication, unlike Newbille.

Dave 02/21/2017 at 1:34 PM

Mr. Olinger,

As a citizen and property owner, I am contacting you to express my concerns regarding the proposed “Glenwood Ridge Apartments” development. These concerns center on this developments compliance with the current land use zoning, R-63, and its compatibility with the surrounding area.

From the city’s website: “The intent of the R-63 Multi-Family Residential district is to encourage development of a medium-density neighborhood comprised of a mix of residential uses while promoting a pedestrian-oriented urban environment.” Below is a list of conflicts between this proposed development and the requirements of the R-63 designation:

1. This development does not include a “mix of residential uses” by limiting itself exclusively to low and middle income residents. A mix of residential uses would be inclusive of all people across the entire economic spectrum. To limit a person’s ability to reside in this new development based solely on their economic status could be construed as a form of discrimination, and I believe does not align with the intent of the R-63 designation.

2. This development does NOT “promote a pedestrian-oriented” environment. In a public meeting held on 2/7/17 (which you attended) the developer’s presentation slide of the proposed site plan showed only sidewalks immediately in front of the two proposed residential buildings and adjacent to a dumpster enclosure. No sidewalks were shown leading to or adjacent to Glenwood Avenue, a narrow road in which no sidewalks currently exist on either side of the road. In addition, there are no sidewalks on either side of Government Road leading up the hill to Chimborazo Park. In addition, consider this…an “affordable housing” development is supposed to consider a low rate of vehicular ownership by its potential residents, as verified by the developer during the meeting. How will the residents of Glenwood Ridge safely navigate this development and the surrounding area without sidewalks? A safe path of transit for pedestrians (i.e. sidewalks) must certainly be a requirement for a “pedestrian-oriented urban environment.”

3. There is a maximum height limit of 35 feet for “main buildings” located within a R-63 zoned district. The developer refused to state what the height of the two proposed apartment “main buildings” would be for this development during the public meeting. His lack of clearness and forthrightness on this particular subject, and others throughout the meeting, did not instill in me a sense of good faith on his behalf for the members of the Chimborazo, Fulton, and Church Hill communities.

I thank you for taking the time to read this correspondence and consider the notions put forth that this development is NOT in compliance with the current land use designation. I further propose that approval for this development be suspended indefinitely.


My letter to Mark Olinger regarding compliance issues between this development and the R-63 designation.

Dave 02/21/2017 at 2:21 PM

Responses I have received to the email:

Mark Olinger – an automated response saying he won’t be in his office until tomorrow.

And copied below from Samuel Patterson, liaison to Dr. Newbille….

Good Afternoon Mr. … and on behalf of councilwoman Newbille, let me take this time to thank you for your email regarding the proposed Glenwood Avenue Project. Councilowoman Newbille has met with several City Officials on this project and we are waiting on a response letter and as soon as we get an updated response, we will let you know what is going on with this project.

Thanks-Sam Patterson, Council Liaison

My response to his….

Mr. Patterson,

Thank you for your prompt response and attention to my email. Can you disclose what the nature of those meetings were and with whom she has met? Several members of our community are pressing for information regarding this project.


Samuel’s response to that….

City Staff and when more information is available, we will send out information.


Not sure what any of this means…

crd 02/21/2017 at 4:55 PM

@47 and 48, thanks for sharing your well thought out and written letter. As you get more responses, please continue to share, thanks! I do have one question: is this project considered low income, or affordable housing? There is a difference, as affordable usually includes residents who are employed as teachers, police officers, clerks, folks making mid-30s to mid or upper 40s. I am unclear, hence my question, thanks.

Rob Pate 02/21/2017 at 6:57 PM

Love your letter, Dave. I think the planning commission met yesterday, there was nothing on their agenda about it. Maybe we can go to the next meeting, presumably a month from now.

Clay Street 02/22/2017 at 8:51 AM

@Dave, thanks for writing and reporting on the follow-up communication, very nicely done.

@crd, this is low-income housing, not median income. The MAXIMUM for income in this development is a specific percentage of the Richmond area median income–it’s spelled out very explicitly in the pdf of the developer’s VHDA LIHTC application attached in the earlier original thread, but offhand I recall that a certain number of units have a maximum income allowance of 40% of median income? And some of the units allow for 60% of median income. Section 8 is preferred for the entire development, and I take that to mean that if you have two identical applicants and one has Section 8 vouchers, that applicant is given priority?

As Juliellen said in another thread, in general LIHTC development is supposed to be accessible to transit and services and not be near other low-inocme and public housing. But the Glenwood project is right next to two others (Ashley Oaks and the RRHA one across Government Rd at Admiral Gravely). I think a question everyone wants answered is: is that enough to shut this down?

Dave 02/22/2017 at 9:34 AM

Look no further than this article in the Richmond Times Dispatch today regarding the struggle associated with these types of developments…

I believe this makes City staff “insane” if they continue to approve these types of developments yet expect a different outcome.

Neighbor 02/22/2017 at 9:53 AM

It may also be helpful to reach out to other officials at VHDA (not Hope Rutter) – someone above her, about the fact that they’ve approved a project and given taxpayer money to something that should never have been approved. Something that won’t benefit the residents of the development or the community around it.

I don’t know if tax credits can be taken back, but it’s worth a try.

frankp 02/22/2017 at 11:34 AM

Isn’t there some evidence-based research suggesting that dense, subsidized housing has a negative affect on all involved? Does this evidence have no sway over these decisions? Does the city not have a better plan than building more proven failures?

Dave 02/22/2017 at 12:28 PM

@54…glad you asked. See this paper by the U.S. Dept. of Urban Housing dated 2013!

Dave 02/22/2017 at 12:29 PM

US Dept of Housing and Urban Development that was supposed to be in 55

DontMinceWords 02/22/2017 at 7:11 PM

Dave you are a machine. Thanks for all of this.

bill 02/23/2017 at 12:17 PM

#53 why not ask mr Hilbert?

ich1967 02/24/2017 at 10:13 AM

seeing all this comments here, I think we are all pulling in the right direction but not together. Can we get a petition going? I’m available but would need help…….

Dave 02/24/2017 at 3:34 PM

Got a response from Dr. Newbille regarding my email (RE: 47 above)…

Thank you for taking time to share your comments, questions and concerns relative to the Glenwood Ridge Project.
In order to provide you with accurate information regarding the status of this project, attached is a current project update provided by Mr. Mark A. Olinger, Director of the Department of Planning & Development Review.
The next meeting with the developers has been scheduled for Thursday, March 30th at 6:00 pm at the Powhatan Recreation Center, 5051 North Hampton Street. I hope that you will be able to attend the meeting..

Please note, No permits will be issued for this project prior to the conclusion of the Section 106 process which will be after the community meeting.

Many thanks again.


The Honorable Cynthia Newbille
Richmond City Council, Vice President
East end, 7th District

Also, there was a PDF attached to the email…
but I don’t know how to attach it here. It has significant info though.

Dave 02/24/2017 at 3:59 PM

I sent you an email with the PDF referenced in the comment above…

John M 02/24/2017 at 5:39 PM

Meeting set on Glenwood Ridge Apartments - Church Hill People's News | Richmond, Virginia 02/24/2017 at 5:49 PM

[…] The first meeting with Shane Doran from the Humanities Foundation and lawyer T. Preston Lloyd, Jr. o… after the demolition permit for the trolley barn came to light. […]

David 02/24/2017 at 6:58 PM

@59- In re: a petition- Do you need help drafting the petition or collecting signatures?

Dave 02/25/2017 at 5:43 AM

Based on the PDF in 62 above it seems there are at least a few opportunities to stop this development due to various “adverse effects” that would occur should it be granted a building permit. Those include the demolition of the trolley barn and the actual construction of this development in and of itself.

ich1967 02/27/2017 at 8:22 AM

@ 63. Yes, I would need help and a few directions. I hope that we get something together with the pre-meeting Dave proposed on the other thread.

Dave 03/02/2017 at 3:04 PM

I sent a follow up email to Dr. Newbille regarding the POD status information in the PDF (@ 62) inquiring about what was sent, and by whom, to the development team. She forwarded my inquiry to Mr. Olinger.

His response:

Thanks for writing.
Staff had comments on many of the same things that came up at the neighborhood meeting; relationship to street and neighbors, open space (esp. for children as there are a # of 3-BR units in the project), providing for better circulation/parking so that buildings aren’t surrounded by asphalt, etc. In other words a development that would complement the neighborhood.
We look forward to the upcoming neighborhood meeting to see how—based upon the neighborhood meeting comments and staff comments—how these issues will be addressed.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Pedey (3 year resident) 03/04/2017 at 2:59 PM

Perhaps CAR could be interested in writing and advisory letter to the city as how to best preserve the trolley barn, even into the future considering its current zoning. As per #62, it appears as though CAR was once interested in preserving the building, perhaps prior to rezoning. It would seem any kind of multi-unit housing would likely require demolition/substantial structural changes. They might-could get involved.
On the other hand, does an old (even if historic) trolley garage really do anyone in this city as much good as a roof over their head?
Would the neighborhood come together for a plan to build moderate and low-income homes in that spot if the developer wasn’t from out of town?
Are there circumstances in which we would applaud projects that support low to moderate income families to continue to live here? If so, what are they? These are genuine questions, not navel-gazing or intended to sound like preaching. I haven’t lived in the East End long enough to know whether there is somewhere a line that just always seems to gets crossed, or if we simply are saying no because we like the sound of the word.

Isabel 03/28/2017 at 9:15 AM

Thanks neighbors for all this research and outreach. I’ll be at the meeting tomorrow and would be interested in connecting with folks beforehand as I’m coming into this late in the game.

mary 04/06/2017 at 9:57 AM

Richmond, a historical city actively striving to keep that history going by providing the same sort of housing opportunities over and over and over again:


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