Neighbors protest Oregon Hill development

Oregon Hill protesters (Source: NBC12)
Oregon Hill protesters (Source: NBC12)
Updated: Mar. 18, 2018 at 8:20 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - On Sunday, dozens of neighbors protested the removal of four historic buildings at Oregon Hill.

A proposed apartment complex would clear out about an acre of land, including the homes and storefronts dating back to the 1800s.

With posters in hand, dozens chanted to the tune of honking cars as they passed, in an effort to keep these relics of Richmond's past in the present

"We believe in repsonsible development that preserves these historic sturctures. They still have a lot of integrity," said Jenny Friar, a protestor.

"These are precious old buildings built in the 1830's, and they have a history that goes back to the origins of this neighborhood and it would be a crime to knock them down," said Guy Blundon, who lives in Oregon Hill.

The developer, J.D. Lewis Construction, has submitted plans to the city for a four-story building on the corner of West Cary and South Laurel Streets.

The proposed construction would have a level for retail, as well as one-bedroom apartments for the upper levels in addition to parking on the property.

Guy Blundon lives in Oregon Hill says he's made a living renovating old buildings.  He said the same could be done for these buildings

"I myself - I would maintain the facade of these buildings. I would try very hard to build it into a new building," said Blundon.

"They don't make them anymore like this," said Kelley Lane, leader of Emeritus of Oregon Hill. "Every battle we fight at least backs off people from tearing down more. Every fight we fight goes toward winning that battle of keeping these buildings."

Not everyone thinks these buildings are worth fighting for.

"I don't see this building being used at all. It's kind of in a decrepit state. I think we should just take it down at this point," said Savontae Garner, a VCU student.

Savonte is a VCU student doesn't think much history will be lost if the build are destroyed and that what Richmond needs now is more places for people to live.

"There's plenty of areas where Richmond's history is seen very easily," said Garner.

Still, protesters say there's room for both.

"We're not saying don't build at all. We're saying keep these buildings, make your money on the tax credits, build behind them, and save them. Everybody wins," said Lane.

"Well, you've got to give it a try. We'll do what we can do to hold on to the old fabric," said Blundon.

NBC12 was not able to get in touch with the developer yet for a comment

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