Judge rules in favor of Church Hill condo project

By Yvette Yeon - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The fight to keep a new condo development out of historic Church Hill, may be over. Friday a circuit judge upheld Richmond City Council's decision to approve a three-story condo project, despite a lot of opposition.

For homeowners like Mercedez Schaum the new 33-unit condo development called "Oakwood Heights" may be reason enough to consider moving out of Church Hill.

"It'll really change how we live here," said Schaum.

It's now a vacant piece of land, but once construction begins...and traffic heightens with new residents...Schaum says won't let her kids play outside. She says the child friendly neighborhood is disappointed at the judge's decision.

"I was really surprised. I thought that somebody higher up would see the legitimate complaints we had and would take our side in this," Schaum said.

Neighbors here have said for years the project is too big and doesn't fit the character of the historic district. Even the city's Commission of Architectural Review had objections.

"We welcome new development in the community it's not about trying to keep things the same, I mean the neighborhood is going to evolve over time, it's just that new development needs to be appropriate," said Church Hill resident Kristen HughesEvans.

But the judge ruled in favor of the city council's decision to allow the project to move forward by saying the development doesn't constitute an abuse of discretion. We spoke with members of Fulton Hill Properties earlier this week.

"We've spent a lot of money and paid mortgages on vacant land...we need to get going," said Kristen Heckman of Fulton Properties.

But as the development moves in the neighborhood...neighbors say they won't welcome it.

"I think its unfortunate it's actually a huge blow to historic district throughout Richmond," said HughesEvans.

Well, tonight, none of Richmond's city council members answered our calls to weigh in on the decision. Meanwhile, residents still have chance to appeal the judge's decision. 

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