Historic church in Colonial Heights to be demolished

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

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, VA (WWBT) – A decision is made on what to do with a historic building in Colonial Heights. After years of debate and discussion city council recently voted to tear down the former Colonial Heights Baptist Church in order to build a new courthouse.

"It will be the largest project for city government that the city has ever built," said City Manager Tom Mattis.

The current courthouse is considered small, outdated, and unsafe. Not everyone is on board with the 87-year-old church building being demolished. Opponents say there are other options.

Joe GeGrucci lives near the old church site. He says the structure should be preserved.

Joe GeGrucci: "Keep it up or just refurbish the inside. They shouldn't tear it down - nothing historical."
Nicole Bell: "Why not?"
Joe GeGrucci: "It's history."

According to a recent study, building a new structure will cost just over $18 million. That's less expensive than renovating or expanding the existing building.

"It's the best option because it provides the broadest opportunities for a new project that's most cost effective," said Mattis.

The city purchased the church property in 2005 for nearly $4 million. A congregation was renting the space but opted not to renew its lease. In recent years community members have rallied to save building.

"There's been a lot of talk about the downside of what we're losing. I'd like there to be more focus on what we can gain here. We can make a great project the whole city can be proud of," said Mattis.

The old church building is expected to be demolished in April 2011. Construction on the new courthouse is scheduled to get underway no later than January 2012.

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