RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – He was responsible for hundreds of vacant and run-down properties in Richmond. What ever happened to the homes owned by Oliver Lawrence?
Last fall, Lawrence served 15 days in jail and 40 of home confinement, in one of his own rundown homes, after more than 180 convictions on property maintenance violations. According to city property records he's sold several and banks have foreclosed on several more. As of today, he only owns 81 properties in the city, but all of them are tax delinquent.
A home on 33rd street in Church Hill is one of the first to be sold. The new owner closed this week.
"I think a lot of people were upset when they found out about the hundreds of properties that he had owned and neglected," said Lane Pearson, the property manager for the Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods. (also known as A.C.O.R.N)
A.C.O.R.N contacted the bank that owns four properties in historic neighborhoods and offered to help find new owners. It's the first foreclosure the nonprofit has ever been involved with.
"It was an opportunity for us to turn that infamy around and use it to the advantage of these neighborhoods and these properties," said Pearson.
Enter, Barry Pierce. He loves fixing up old homes and closed on a Lawrence property on Monday.
"I'm real happy to do something to counter act the problems that he's caused. I read about him a year or so ago and it's a shame," said Peirce.
Despite this home's outward and inward appearance, he sees a lot of potential.
"These are great old neighbors. There's a lot of folks that have lived here since they were kids and it's nice to be able to fix a house up right, and you know restore the neighborhood," said Peirce. He hopes to have people living here by the end of the year.
A.C.O.R.N still has three more former Lawrence properties it's trying to find a buyer for. One is in Battery Park. The other two are in the Church Hill area. If you'd like to take a look at these properties click here.