Residents, descendants disapprove of renaming Essex Village after Maggie Walker

Residents, descendants disapprove of renaming Essex Village after Maggie Walker

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Plans to rename Essex Village in Henrico County are not sitting well with many people, because the new owner wants to name the complex Maggie Lena Walker apartments.

Many in the community, even members of Walker's own family, don't see it as an honor. Descendants of Maggie Walker say they had no idea that Essex Village was going to be renamed for her, and it doesn't sit well with them.

"They've been getting things done, so I've got hope for it," says James Brown who lives at Essex Village.

Some still claim they're still waiting for maintenance work to get done at the county's largest subsidized housing complex.

"I've been asking them if they can come spray for roaches, gnats," says Brianna Banks, another Essex Village resident.

She said she filed at least three complaints a week.

Now another controversy is brewing. The new owner, Ernst Valery who is based out of Baltimore, wants to rename Essex after a Richmond icon: Maggie Walker. A philanthropist and a trail blazer, she was the first African American woman to own a bank.

Some people find it offensive.

"...the new owners are defiling the name of our illustrious Maggie L. Walker by attaching it to a residential nightmare with little regard to her history or relationship to this Richmond community," wrote one graduate of the Maggie Walker school.

Some of her descendants also told NBC12 they were not consulted.

Valery didn't want to comment on the name change, except to say, "tenants were inspired by the spirit and name of Ms. Walker."

Not all renters agree. Brown says there's a lot of negativity that surrounds Essex Village.

"They can name it anything they want in this world, the work still don't get done," says Banks.

Some graduates of the Maggie Walker school tell NBC12 they're starting a petition and will be contacting the new owner about the name change.

The new owner has pledged to make major renovations to Essex Village. The former owners were under investigation for months for unsafe and unsanitary conditions. They were even taken to court until the issues were fixed.

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