VSU looks to lease old church site in Colonial Heights

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, VA (WWBT) - A decision is expected Tuesday night on whether to lease the old Colonial Heights Baptist Church building to Virginia State University. The proposal has created a heated debate in the city.

Proponents say a lease agreement would generate revenue for the city. Opponents say they don't want part of a college campus in their residential neighborhood.

Dana Pritchett lives on Battery Place in Colonial Heights. Her home is on the backside of the old Colonial Heights Baptist Church Building. Pritchett says she's not thrilled about the possibility of the vacant building being leased to Virginia State University.

"We like our neighborhood the way it is. It's nice. It's quiet. No problems. We just like it to stay the way it is," said Dana.

Other neighbors say the lease agreement would lead to an increase in foot and vehicle traffic. According to a proposal the school would lease the building for up to 18 months. It would be used for educational purposes only.

"We spoke with the executives from VSU which say they'll be no more than 250 people there at times. We're looking at 40 faculty and staff members, the rest students, all at one time," said Mayor Scott Davis.

Mayor Davis says the parking lot at the old church can accommodate 300 vehicles. The proposal also states that the city will not incur any direct costs if VSU rents the property. In fact, Mayor Davis says entering into the agreement would generate thousands of dollars for the city.

"VSU will pay the city $26,000 a month and our payment on the interest of note is only $11,000 a month right now, so after 18 months we look at a net profit of $250,000" said Mayor Davis.

As for Dana Pritchett and some of her neighbors they say they plan on speaking out at Tuesday night's meeting in opposition of the agreement.

Another piece to this story is that two citizens committees were formed about a year ago, by the city, to try and figure out the best use for the property. Both groups want to see the building renovated into a new courthouse.

If you're interested in attending Tuesday night's public hearing it will get going at 7:00 p.m. at the City Administration Building on James Avenue.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.