Hotel Jefferson owner relaunches plan to demolish nearby church
Thirty years after first seeking to do so, the owner of the Jefferson Hotel is seeking to tear down the building’s historic neighbor.
Historic Richmond Hotels, linked to Bill Goodwin’s CCA Industries, filed permit applications with the city in September to demolish the century-old Second Baptist Church building at 13 W. Franklin St., just east of the five star hotel.
The requests are to demolish the existing structure, backfill the basement and develop the property, which Historic Hotels purchased as part of an assembly when the Jefferson was purchased in 1991.
The following year, the hotel sought to demolish the church building, citing structural deterioration and a need for more parking, as well as concerns that the building was attracting vagrants. Conservatives at the time fought successfully to save the building, which the hotel fenced off and used as a warehouse.
Demolition applications filed in late September do not specify what would be done with the quarter-acre property beyond filling in the basement and landscaping the site. Requests for comment from the hotel and the CCA were not returned. The city’s online permit portal shows three applications received, one listed as denied, another canceled and a third “pending/waiting for more information”.
This request estimates the cost of the project at $350,000. Draper Aden Associates is listed as the engineer for the work.
The proposed demolition has already caught the attention of the nonprofit Historic Richmond, which fought to save the building in the first round.
According to a flyer it released about the plan, the nonprofit interprets the request to mean the land could end up being used for parking.
The flyer says the nonprofit contacted the hotel and was told demolition was being requested due to structural issues with the building and “an inability to find an economically viable use.”
The flyer says previous proposals for adaptive reuse of the building included a fitness center, swimming pool, offices and housing. He adds that similar structures have been adapted for commercial use, restaurants and food halls.
“With or without the financial assistance of tax credits, we can see Second Baptist’s refreshed exterior house a number of amenities to restore the hotel’s five-star status and enhance the visitor experience in Richmond,” says the flyer, encouraging readers to voice their concerns to the mayor, city council and Richmond planning staff.
Cyane Crump, executive director of Historic Richmond, said she hoped an arrangement could be reached to preserve the building.
“We think it’s a beautiful historic structure,” Crump said Friday. “We would like to see him saved somehow.”
The sanctuary building, constructed in 1906, was designed by William Noland of Noland and Baskervill, a predecessor of the current architectural firm Baskervill.
Featuring a prominent columned portico, the neoclassical building’s design was based on the same Roman temple that Thomas Jefferson modeled for the Virginia State Capitol building.
The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Grace Street Commercial Historic District. It is also part of the Old and Historic District of West Franklin Street in Richmond, a city designation that requires building alteration approval by the Commission of Architectural Review (CAR).
Crump said she doesn’t know how the permit review process will work. Kevin Vonck, the city’s director of planning, confirmed Friday that the remaining permit application is currently pending, which he says is due to the designation of the Old and Historic District.
Vonck said the designation requires a certificate of suitability from the CAR for the application to be accepted. He said it was up to the plaintiff to pursue that course.
“The ball is in their court,” Vonck said.
Crump said the building’s architectural significance warrants such a review.
“If the owners intend to proceed, we would like to see it go through the Architectural Review Board process, due to its architectural value and the fact that it is in an old and historic area of the city. “, said Crump.
“We don’t really know much at this point. We’re eager to hear more, and if we can help be part of a solution that saves it, we’re interested in exploring that. »
Totaling 8,500 square feet, the building and its quarter-acre lot were recently appraised by the city at $926,000. Historic Hotels owns four adjoining lots that it uses as parking lots. Two other lots on the block are owned by the YMCA of Greater Richmond, which uses them as parking for its downtown Franklin branch of the YMCA.
Nominations are coming in as work on the Jefferson’s exterior continues. Scaffolding on the hotel building’s two Tuscan-style towers has been in place for more than a year, though it’s unclear what work is being done. A hotel spokeswoman declined to discuss the work in detail when asked about it earlier.
Municipal permits approved in 2019 describe the removal of the existing roof and its replacement with a membrane roof, as well as the repair and replacement of decorative terracotta elements, including balusters. A demolition permit has also been approved for the preparation of an upgrade to the restaurant.
In 2017, the hotel completed a four-year, three-phase renovation that expanded rooms and reduced the total number of rooms. The Rotunda’s century-old ceiling was restored and new furniture was placed in the Rotunda and Palm Courtyard halls and in the Lemaire Restaurant, among other improvements.
• BizSense reporter Mike Platania contributed to this report.