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Go inside the abandoned Virginia Avenue School that is poised to transform the Petersburg community

Posted at 4:44 PM, May 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-16 16:44:32-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Nearly 20 years after the Virginia Avenue School shuttered in Petersburg, the building is once again abuzz. A years-delayed plan to transform the dilapidated, but historic, building into an apartment building for seniors has begun.

"We know this has been a long time coming for the Petersburg community here and going through we see a lot of potential in this building," Langston Davis, with Davis Brothers Construction, said. "The community is going to be very happy with this once it is finished."

The demolition phase of the work is expected to take about four months. Due to the building's historic designation. not everything is coming down.

"A lot of the classroom walls stay, the hallway walls stay," Randy McElroy, with Davis Brothers Construction, said.

Watch Web Exclusive: Wayne Covil takes a tour of the abandoned Virginia Avenue School

Exclusive look inside abandoned Virginia Avenue school

"Some of the cabinets have to be kept," Davis added. "Some of the doors have to be kept."

While the inside of the old school looks rough, contractors said the bones are sound.

"Even though some of the finishes are falling apart, like the carpet and ceiling and the floor tiles, the concrete is fine," McElroy said. "The Masonry walls are fine, that’s what you’re really looking for."

Once the demolition is complete, the rebuilding phase will last another 14 months.

When the project is completed, the old school will house 50 one and two-bedroom apartments for seniors and veterans.

The Long Road to Get Here

When pitched in 2021, developer Avram Fechter said the project would be complete by the end of 2023.

But in 2023, he appeared before Petersburg City Council and explained the project was delayed due to state bond funding running out and a previous general contractor dropping out.

Earlier this year, Fechter told CBS 6 that heexpected his tax equity investors to approve a plan and that could lead to construction in the spring.

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