City council approves Church Hill condos

By Laura Geller - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Over the protest of residents, city council cast its vote to allow developers to continue their plans for Oakwood Heights, a condo development in Church Hill.

It's a rare move that overturns a rejection the architectural board has made three times. Developers can now apply for building permits for the Oakwood Heights project. That's after everyone who has a stake in that matter gave city council a piece their minds.

CAR, or the Commission on Architectural Review says developers plans to build 33 condos in the vacant lots at the end of East Broad and Marshall Streets are simply incompatible with the historic nature of Church Hill.

"After working with them three separate times and two separate works sessions they did not meet the criteria of the guidelines nor did it meet the laws of this city that we are sworn to uphold," said Mary Hunton, Commission on Architectural Review.

Deanna Lewis is a church hill businesswoman. She, like this massive line of people, came to show her support for the CAR decision.

"As a builder and restorer in the area I have to abide by those rules. If I'm building in the historic district and what Oakwood Heights has presented does not meet the guidelines in many respects," said Lewis.

Many Church Hill residents say the plan is too massive and the buildings have too many stories. But developers told city council everything they're proposing follows the letter of the law.

"We meet the guidelines and we meet the code. We're not asking for a variance we're not asking to be treated differently. We do meet the guidelines," said Andy Condlin, an attorney with Williams Mullen.

And eight members of city council agree with that assertion.

"I for one am going to vote to reverse the decision also, madam clerk would you call the question," said City Council President Kathy Graziano.

After three and a half years, they've made some Richmond developers very happy.

The next step in the process is for developers to apply for building permits. Church Hill residents, though, say they've hired an attorney and will take the council's decision to circuit court.

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