Residents upset over homes slated for demolition

By Tara Morgan - bio | email
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Two homes dating back to the 1920's may soon be reduced to rubble.

But not if some Ginter Park residents can help it.

At the center of the controversy, two homes that Meg Lawrence said recently became part of the Ginter Park Historic District.

 "It's vital to us in Ginter Park that Chamberlayne have access to the historic tax credits that can make rehabbing a home a viable option,´said Lawrence, President of the Ginter Park Residents Association.

Five years ago, the Robins Foundation paid $440,000 for the two homes and adjoining lot.

Lawrence said they were told they couldn't build the learning center, because of the site's residential zoning.

The foundation's Executive Director Bill Roberts says when met by opposition from the community, they decided to build the center further down Chamberlayne on Graham Road.

Last February, the properties were listed with a commercial broker, but Roberts says there's been no interest.

The foundation applied for demolition permits for the Chamberlayne homes last Friday.

"We believe the Robins Foundation paid too much for these properties when they first purchased them in 2005 and given the economic climate today we believe they need to accept there may be a net loss from the original purchase price," said Lawrence.

Roberts says the homes are deteriorating and shouldn't be left vacant for safety reasons. 

 Lawrence said the homes are important to the community and is lobbying for a reprieve.

"We'll do everything we can, I have to say they have the right to tear the houses down but it's not the right thing to do," said Lawrence.

City officials said it could take two to three weeks before demolition permits could be granted.

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