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NBC reports on vacant 204-year-old Church Hill building

04/08/2019 6:00 AM by

You know the one! The once destination for Grisette, one of the oldest buildings in Richmond is in danger. NBC reports:

Residents have been expressing concerns about safety at the vacant grocery store on 27th Street. A link fence is the only thing separating those waiting at a bus stop street from a leaning frame.The walls don’t need to talk – it’s clear they’ve seen better days. Bricks have fallen and there are violation notices dating back several years. “And then there’s the lead paint … that notice stands on the building to this day,” said Debra Melisi, who lives down the street and is the president of the Church Hill neighborhood association. She says the maroon building was poised for spot blight abatement under then-Mayor Doug Wilder. That program would allow the spot to be listed at market price so someone could spruce it up.

Eric H writes:

The fence was recently moved further out away from the building. I am not even sure why it is still there since the permit for it expired February 18th. I am glad it is though, considering.

Since the owners have no intention of selling or fixing, the ONLY option at this point is Spot Blight Abatement. The city tried imposing it at least 2 or 3 different times and let things slide. Under abatement, the building would be sold at a Fair Market value and not some ridiculous overinflated price the owners mentioned in the past. Then it would not be such a stumbling block restoring it. In any case, it would be an investment in History since this is not your ordinary building.

Back in 2008, many things were happening concerning the building including the owners wanting to demolish it before I intervened. I feel that the owner’s intentions all along were to let it rot to a point that it will need to be demolished and then, sell the corner lot at a premium. That they live in modern homes outside of the district and have no real grip or interest with the city’s history or historical structures. Just like Newbille, who puts progress over preservation.

Revitalization can be a natural process with bringing back neighborhoods and weeding out blight and crime. But we should never forget Richmond’s heritage as being one of the oldest cities in the country and has one of the highest concentrations of original 19th-century architecture as well in the country. Many things have happened since its founding and these rare structures have seen much and withstood more. They could become tourist attractions if/when the city ever embraces its history.


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