October Festival Guide

Woman buys, plans to redevelop entire Church Hill block

Developer Deanna Lewis is reshaping a string of neglected buildings on O Street. (PHOTO: Brandy Brubaker)

Developer Deanna Lewis is reshaping a string of neglected buildings on O Street. (PHOTO: Brandy Brubaker)

RICHMOND, Va. – Deanna Lewis found something in a crumbling Church Hill block that she couldn’t ignore.

Within the derelict exteriors of its seven small row houses, a broken-down general store and a vacant lot, Lewis saw an opportunity.

“I had driven past the block for seven years,” she said. “Although it was vacant, painted multicolor and boarded up, there was just something about it that would turn my head.”

So she bought the entire block.

Lewis paid about $159,000 for the properties between 2511 and 2525 O St. She said the structures – many long vacant and some condemned – were built in the 1870s by James Netherwood. Netherwood was a popular local contractor who built many monuments around Richmond, including the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue.

O-Block-rendering

Lewis plans to restore the O Street buildings and sell them as single-family homes.

Click here to continue to read about Lewis’ plan on RichmondBizSense.com.

31 comments

  • Robbie

    Good luck with your venture! Good luck keeping a contractor too! Once someone gets robbed, shot, stomped, smacked, run over, stabbed and beat to death with a baseball bat, contractors will be hard to find. If you do get them fixed up, they will look like they do now in about an year. Depressing ain’t it!

    • Belsma

      I live in Bon Air and they have hired security at the BOA branch on Buford just for the ATM. The Circle K across the street has been robbed. I shop on Forest Hill, the CVS and Baskin Robbins has been robbed. Nobody or area is immune to crime.

  • Morning Dew

    That’s right. Just think the worst and do nothing Robbie. No point in trying to make a better world. Deanna Lewis saw a need and acted on it. Good luck to her!!

    • manalishi

      So after reading the comments above and below, i decided to hit the link and read the whole story. You should have too. “plans to apply for state historic tax credits” is the quote. This is a real estate welfare program that everyone is on the hook for. ” Deanna Lewis saw a need and acted on it.” No, she saw a way to line her pockets with taxpayers $. @ 50-75 cents on the dollar. If it was a viable investment, tax credits wouldn’t be required to subsidize. The majority of church hills resurrection was on the backs of the taxpayers.

      • Carol

        The government will often give tax credits to both commercial and residential development in an effort to revitalize properties and there fore neighborhoods because doing so actually helps to LOWER crime which actually saves the taxpayer money that goes to police, jails, courts, etc. A citizen is taking it upon themselves to do something good for the city and it is incredibly sad that there are haters waiting on the sidelines to pounce on them for doing so.

    • Belsma

      Um, no, just find it in yourself to be happy for someone. I know professionals that own houses and live in Church Hill and they love it. It’s not all bad. There are crime issues everywhere.

      • BO

        I know professional white people that live there too and the blacks only target the whites.Cnurch hill is a toilet as longf as your have the projects there.F the poor people.

  • BO

    If she wants to lose money after she fixes them up rent instead of selling.It should be renamed deadbeat hill.

  • Joe

    You could fix that area up all you won’t but it won’t change until you get rid of the folks who live there. And we all know, that ain’t happenin’. I wouldn’t touch that area with a lead shovel.

  • Greg

    It’s crazy how fast nice homes in the city are selling these days. Last 4 homes on my street, 13 days combined and all over asking price. She knows what she’s doing. $$

  • Mike F.

    As a property owner in Church Hill (3 single family rentals) I have seen values continue to rise, continuous renovation, and an influx of top of the line restaurants, bakeries, ect since 2003. Church Hill is the future Fan and is a great place to invest in. Thank you Ms. Lewis for realizing the opportunity and welcome!

    • Cheryl Kitchen

      I am a 20+ year resident of Hanover county formerly from Rochester, NY. My youngest son and several of his friends live in Churchill as renters. They are all in their mid to upper 20’s and low 30’s. They love the area. I have spent a good bit of time there also, recently. I love the area. True, there are times I’m uncomfortable because of the crime. I think it’s a great place to promote change and take back the area from the “bad guys”. There are many very good people living there from decades back, older folks. My son has learned a lot from them. I’m excited about this and hope it continues.

  • iasiddiq

    I grew up in Richmond’s West End. I have always dreamt to move back if the opportunity presented itself. Would love to be considered for a unit if I meet the criteria.

  • Deanna Lewis

    Manalishi – I’m glad you clicked and read the story. The rules surrounding the State tax credit program are very strict. My restoration of the seven smaller homes may not qualify because I have to expand them beyond what the rules may allow – they will be double in size. Just because I “apply” doesn’t mean that I’ll get them. Regardless, I’ll restore them the way I have to, to make them spacious and a great place to call home even if I lose the tax credits. The tax credit program is an incentive to restore a property and preserve the history of an area, a building, not bulldoze them to the ground. It’s an incentive to do it right. This block hasn’t generated tax dollars for the City for decades. I paid up to ten years of back taxes to the City when I bought them.

    Manalishi, this restoration will bring in 9 houses full of neighbors and new friends into the community… it will be ALIVE again. I call that viable. From the tone of your post it is obvious we’ve never met. I’m the farthest things away from a “big bad developer”. I found what makes me happy. I love doing this and know what I do makes a difference in peoples lives. I invite you to come on down and walk in my shoes for an hour. I’d seriously love shake your hand, give you a tour and show you around. It’s awesome, the amount of work scary, fun and exciting all at the same time.

    Robbie, thanks for the wish of “good luck”! I AM the contractor and I will not be run off :) The neighbors are awesome and the neighborhood is charming. This little block is the last piece of a beautiful puzzle there.

    To everyone else, thanks for the well wishes. It’s going to be an amazing transformation. Your kind words mean a lot.

    Thanks, Deanna Lewis

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