PETERSBURG, Va. -- There are plenty of colorful words to describe the old Ramada Inn site in Petersburg that sits just off Interstate 95 at the “gateway” to the city. One broken and graffitied window even reads “X-files,” a possible ode to the science fiction show.
On Monday, Petersburg leaders announced the blighted “monstrosity” would finally be coming down.
“It looks like war-torn Baghdad or war-torn Beirut,” said State Senator Joe Morrissey (D).
“We’ve been focused on removing this eye sore,” said Petersburg Mayor Samuel Parham while announcing the structure would be removed in the coming months.
The hotel, which was built in the 1970s and sat vacant since 2012, has filed dozens of code inspects and is unfit for use in its current state. Petersburg leaders said they expect the demolition of the property to be wrapped up by the end of the year, an idea they celebrated.
“When I would ask the question, what do you want done? If they were in eyesight of this monstrosity, they’d step out and say, ‘take it down.’ Almost every single house said we’ve got to get this down because this is the gateway to Petersburg, and it’s not the gateway we wanted,” Morrissey said.
City leaders recently purchased the property from the development group that took control of the site in 2018 and failed to rehab the space.
Senator Morrissey and Delegate Kim Taylor (R) secured $2.6 million in state funding during the most recent budget cycle to launch the project. That money will cover the property purchase, the demolition of the structure, and prepping the space for future development.
The first blow to the blight happened Monday, and officials said the plan is to take the building down in phases.
“We’ve got the demolition contractor here. He’s going to be taking it down in stages. So, it’s going to actually be picking the building apart. We’re doing that to render the building safe,” said James Reid, the Fire Marshal in Petersburg.
Parham said the city has been in contact with some developers and the Governor's office to ensure that whatever ends up on the property in the future succeeds so that the city does not end up back in the same spot. The project represents an example of continued reinvestment in the city.
“We don’t know how many people passing through on I-85 or I-95 see this hotel and hit the gas and keep going. This is part of us making the city of Petersburg a welcoming place where people want to stop off,” Parham said. “You’re going to see a resurgence here in the city like never before. This is just us putting the dollars where our mouth has been so long, which is getting this Ramada Inn demolished and making this a welcoming entryway into the city of Petersburg.”
Officials said they do not yet have a timeline for identifying a developer for the space. In the meantime, the property will be turned into green space and readied for development.