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November 11, 2008

Council denies demolition permit for property off West Main

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Moon-henderson The Moon-Henderson House on 10 1/2th Street (Source: City of Charlottesville)

The Charlottesville City Council has denied an appeal by the owner of the Moon-Henderson House on 10 1/2th Street to demolish the structure. Owner Bill Chapman had claimed that he could not afford to renovate the house, but the Board of Architectural Review voted 6-0 in September 2008 against the request. 

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Tenth and a ½th street is a short spur off of West Main Street. Developer Bill Atwood is planning to build a 6 story building nearby at the location of the Under the Roof furniture store. The house was built in the late 19th Century and is located in the West Main Architectural Design Control District. Mary Joy Scala, the City’s Preservation and Design Planner, told Council that the structure met none of the City’s criteria for demolition. She said the house is structurally sound, and is one of the few remaining historic structures left on West Main Street.

“That district has had a lot of demolitions over the years,” Scala said. “It’s one of the few remaining structures in that area.” Another demolition request made by a previous owner were denied in 1997. 

Chapman
Bill Chapman makes his case to City Council

Chapman told Council he could not find a lot to disagree with in staff’s assessment of the demolition criteria. He said he has been waiting since 2003 for the market conditions in the area to mature before he can afford the $320,000 he said he needs to renovate the space for either residential or office use. Chapman said the house, which has been vacant since Chapman took ownership, is constantly being broken in to by vagrants.

“Even though it is structurally sound, it is financially unsound, and it’s an unsafe situation I want to fix,” Chapman told Council.

Councilor David Brown said he was bothered that the building was allowed to decline into neglect, and that he would uphold the BAR’s decision. Councilor Holly Edwards called the building a historic treasure, and said it was an important element of Charlottesville African-American past. Councilor Satyendra Huja said he understood Chapman’s argument, but that the space could be purchased by someone for use as an affordable rental unit.

Council voted 5-0 to uphold the BAR’s decision. Chapman has the right to make an appeal in Charlottesville Circuit Court. Scala said he can also put the house up for sale to a buyer who commits to preserving the house. Scala said if no bona fide offers are made within a year, Chapman has the right to proceed with demolition under state law. 

Sean Tubbs

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