The Richmond Historical Commission received an update about the status of neglected downtown properties at its Tuesday meeting.
The buildings in question are located at 209 Calhoun St., 101 S. Third St., 206 Morton St. and 300-308 Morton St.
All of the properties are in a state of disrepair and on the verge of being demolished, said Jose Abrahams, Richmond’s planning director. Because the buildings are deemed historic, the process for demolishing them falls under the city’s “demolition by neglect” ordinance.
Demolition by neglect refers to property owners letting historic buildings become so blighted that tearing them down is the only safe thing to do, Abrahams said.
City staff members are trying to contact the property owners so the buildings can be brought up to code instead of being knocked down, he added. One of the commission’s main concerns was the property at 206 Morton St., the former Queen Theatre building.
The building has been vacant for over a decade.
In 2013, there were rumors about an attempt to rehabilitate the building and revive it as a movie theater. However, those plans never materialized. The state of the Queen Theatre building was of particular concern to Commission Member Becky Haas.
“The theater owner said that the front could fall down and kill someone,” Haas said. “It’s not fair to the owners of the businesses next door, if that façade crumbles it will take their walls with it.”
The building’s owners have apparently applied for a permit for a temporary driveway so they can begin the renovation process, according to Lori Bownds, a building official with the city.
City staff members also briefed the commission about the status of 101 S. Third St. Over the past month, planning department officials were able to tour the building.
“The owner wants to be a part of the process of bringing it up to code,” Abrams said. “It will be a challenge to bring the building up to code.”