Former blighted Oliver Lawrence property ready to sell

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email | facebook
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A home once owned by convicted slumlord Oliver Lawrence is ready to hit the market. Once a neighborhood blight, the house could now pave the way for similar improvements throughout the city.

What a difference six months makes? That's how long it took to turn a run-down building into a home.

Six months ago, 421 North 33rd Street was an eyesore. This was as far as camera ventured inside the old house. It was completely gutted.

"I think it's almost ready and then I walk around and keep seeing little spots," says developer Barry Pierce. He's been working round the clock to turn this once abandoned property into a home. He's created two apartments, hoping to rent them for about $1,500 a month.

"When you take the worst house on the block and turn it into the best house. I think that's gotta make everybody more proud of their property they're more inclined to you know, maybe put a few more plants out, paint the front," he said.

He bought the house with help from the Better Housing Coalition's Center for Neighborhood Revitalization.

David Herring's group bought an option in the hopes of getting the property away from convicted slumlord Oliver Lawrence and into the arms of someone who could make a difference for this Church Hill neighborhood.

"Neglectful property owners don't always win. and the houses prevail and the neighborhood will prevail," Herring said.

The former owner, Lawrence, was convicted on more than 180 property maintenance violations. He served 15 days in jail and another 40 in one of his own rundown properties.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.