Hopewell City Council votes to burn down ‘Colonial Corner’ shopping center

Hopewell city council votes to burn down shopping center

HOPEWELL Va. (WWBT) - Tuesday, Hopewell City Council voted unanimously to demolish the crumbling Colonial Corner shopping center as part of a controlled training exercise that will be conducted by the city fire department.

The 7-0 decision was made after initial efforts made by the property owner Bharat Shah, to salvage the shopping center failed.

The original cost to demolish and cleanup the structure will came with a $250,000 price tag, but the costs to let the city fire department use the former shopping center as a burning exercise would bring the cost of clean up down to $60,000.

While no hard date was given as to when the strip could come down, a formal agreement will be drafted between the city and Shah.

“Obviously we need to have time to coordinate it with the fire department and they want to get other localities in the area involved as well.” said building official Tod Hawkes. As far as we’re concerned we’re ready and “Mr. Shah is ready as well so I would think that this would not draw out.”

Shah has agreed to pay $60,000 to clean up the site after initial plans to salvage the structure failed. He has also agreed to cover the costs of removing small traces of asbestos, which would bring the total cost of removal no more than $100,000.

The Hopewell city attorney plans to have draft contract of the official agreement written by the next city council meeting in September 10th.

Residents in the area say they can remember when the windows of shopping strip weren’t boarded up nearly a decade ago.Courtney Collins said she used to visit the shopping center frequently with her family as a kid.

“I remember going over there with friends and family, and it’s kind of like a good memory,” said Collins. “We used to throw darts with family and friends.”

Chunk Johnson said he’s lived in Hopewell all his life and is sad to see the current condition of Colonial Corner Johnson wishes more could have been done to re-invest in the property.

“You could build anything right there. There’s a lot of space right there - you can do anything with it,” said Johnson.

Other residents say that the building has been an eyesore for years and want it gone.

“If the city is not willing to invest in it...I don’t see it going anywhere positive right now," said Dwayne Givens.

If Shah does not agree to the finalized contract, the city still can move ahead with the demolition and then place a lien on the Colonial Corner property.

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