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Neighbors debate plan to redevelop vacant Richmond school

Posted at 5:12 PM, Oct 28, 2022

RICHMOND, Va. -- Big changes are coming to the South Richmond neighborhood near the now-vacant Oak Grove Elementary School. If you ask neighbors what they think about Lynx Ventures' plans to turn the vacant elementary school into 200-plus apartments and more than a dozen townhomes, you'll get a variety of opinions.

"I don’t think it could hurt, if you get the right people in," neighbor John Ellis said.

"This will be a nightmare for the community," Barbara Starkey-Goode countered. "With the parking and the congestion, this is going to be a nightmare."

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"I do not have a problem," Margaret White said. "I like it. It would give us more people and probably a better neighborhood."

Developers at Lynx Ventures recently purchased the southside property from the City of Richmond for $500,000.

Frank Wilson’s church also wanted to buy the building.

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"When we put in the offer, our discussion with the city was about looking to renovate the building for a childcare center and community involvement," Wilson said. "We would have services here in the auditorium and keep it more community based rather than development outside of that."

Lynx Ventures is reportedly investing more than $40 million in the project.

They plan to use low-income tax credits to finance the mixed-use project to include income-restricted rentals.

Lynx developers told the CBS 6 Problem Solvers they’ve received support from dozens of neighbors.

Those in support said they hoped the transformation would curb some illegal activity in and around the abandoned school site.

"We’ve got a lot of stuff going on in the neighborhood that shouldn’t be going on with kids around," neighbor John Ellis said.

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Those not in total support of the developer's vision hope to convince Lynx Ventures to incorporate more ideas from the entire community as they change the dynamics of this block.

"This community needs space for recreation facilities for seniors and our children," Barbara Starkey-Goode said. "This community needs someone willing to partner with us to bring projects that make sense to everyone involved."

"I want to make sure we get everybody together and discuss where this community is going and get the community’s input in this area," Jonathan Davis said.

Demolition of the school and construction of the new development is expected to begin in early 2023.

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