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New twist in old battle to tear down Petersburg hotel

Posted at 6:01 PM, Jun 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 18:22:55-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- The City of Petersburg has filed a 267-page complaint in Petersburg Circuit Court against the owner of the old Ramada Inn on E. Washington Street. Earlier this year, the city shared a 57-page report that detailed more than 140 violations found inside the property.

The city is trying to force the hands of property owner Christopher Harrison to either fix the building or they will tear it down.

"Right now, the Gateway to Petersburg is a dilapidated, defaced, vandalized building," Senator Joe Morrissey (D -16th) said.

While the fight to get the building fixed has stretched over several years, the court filing has added a twist.

"This complaint asks the court to declare the property to be a public nuisance," Petersburg Mayor Sam Parham said.

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It was filed after both civil and criminal summons issued against Harrison were met with no response.

"We haven't had any recent communications with him, we have had communications with his attorney," Petersburg City Attorney Anthony Williams said. "We're going to press this as an emergency, as a situation where the court needs to give this priority and hopefully they will hear our arguments."

Both city leaders and Sen. Morrissey are hopeful the project to bring the building down, which could cost upwards of $1.5 million, could happen without cost to taxpayers.

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They're hoping to work out a deal with the Meridian Waste Acquisitions and DEQ to help with both demolition and removal.

"I am very confident that Meridian is going to come forward and we're going to avoid sticking a bill to the citizens of Petersburg," Morrissey said.

Mayor Parham said if the building does come down, the city would like to see the area become a green space or possibly, a new hotel.