Ramada demolition delayed until January Petersburg city manager says

City leaders say the inclement weather and hidden infrastructure have delayed deconstruction.
Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 11:30 PM EST
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PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - The demolition of the run-down Ramada Inn in Petersburg will continue into 2023 despite the city leader’s self-imposed deadline to have the job done by the end of December.

On the final Friday of 2022, crews from Demolition Service Inc, based out of Culpepper, were hard at work with construction shovels and cranes, picking away at the remaining east-facing wall of the blighted building.

“Whether you’re building something or demoing, it’s hard to hit that specific date,” City Manager March Altman said. “We’re close, and we anticipate within the next two weeks, it will be completely down.”

The project has been on the schedule for months, but the city managers say crews recently hit a few snags. Altman noted that severe wind and ice leading up to Christmas halted the project, in addition to the discovery of water lines at the site that was previously unknown to the demo crews.

“The winds are the big issue for us because you can see with the boom arm. That arm blows around and creates issues for us,” Altman said. “One of the things we found was a direct fire service line off the main water line that we didn’t know was there, and we had to address that and that cause some delays in the time schedule.”

The delay means it will likely be until at least the second week of January before the main building has been completely deconstructed, but the project will still not be finished. Altman says the remaining infrastructure from the former parking deck must also be dismantled in addition to the recyclable materials of the building being hauled off.

According to the Department of Neighborhood Services in Petersburg, approximately 95 percent of the building will be recycled. The department says DSI is responsible for how the salvageable aluminum, steel, concrete and other materials are recycled.

“Once the structure comes down, the rear wall of the hotel will stay. That’s going to serve as a retaining wall to keep the upper part of the site stable,” Altman said. “As for the parking deck, more than likely, at a minimum, the middle wall will be torn down. We’re talking about the top wall being too torn down and then grading everything out. Then we’ll have a site that we’ll be able to market to a future use for an opportunity here in Petersburg.”

Despite the delay, residents in Petersburg says they are still pleased with the job that’s been done to remove the building so far.

“You won’t have to look at that ugly building anymore,” said business owner Lori Meredith.

“I think these guys are doing a pretty good job of getting rid of an eye sore,” said city resident Richard Taylor.

Residents like Joseph Preston Dickens, who is part of the city redevelopment authority, says he’s been taking photos to document the progress of the demolition for several weeks. He says the building’s current state should reassure other residents that the city is heading in the right direction.

“It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been waiting on this,” Dickens said. “It puts a smile on my face. We’re embarking on a new horizon now with getting this building down. This will show that this city is really moving, and it sends a message to residents that things are being done.”

Altman says concrete discussions about how the site will be developed are still months away. He says the possibilities of the site’s future are becoming clearer.

“We want to have something that sort of serves us well as a calling card perspective coming off of 95, so we’re having those discussions right now,” Altman said, “We’re beginning to have those conversations of what this property could be so we’re working through that. Hopefully, we’ll have some type of commercial use here, whether it’s a hotel or a restaurant here at the interchange.”

“We may not have hit that self-imposed deadline of the end of the year, but we’re going to get there, and that shouldn’t deter anyone from thinking that we’re not going to accomplish that goal,” Altman said.