HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Driving around the Libbie Mill neighborhood, one can’t miss the mid-century-style houses lining Henrico County streets, such as Bethlehem Road and Libbie Avenue. These houses date back to the 1950s, but Libbie Mill-Midtown’s developers are in the process of tearing them down.
“The dwellings are currently being demolished,” a spokesperson for Gumenick Properties, the project’s developer, said in a statement on Thursday. “[Tearing them down] will create, more or less, nine acres of space.”
These single-family homes have been vacant for awhile.
“Prior to becoming available, the structures that are being demolished were either owner-occupied or market-rate dwellings, with the last vacancy occurring approximately one year ago,” the Gumenick Properties spokesperson said.
Lisa Giles, a former Henrico resident, used to see the homes every day. She said she feels sad to see them destroyed.
“I think they represent the mid-century aesthetic very well,” Giles said. “I would’ve loved to have seen the homes be renovated and refurbished to preserve that architecture in that period that I think is unique and has a certain style to it, versus seeing them demolished or replaced with something probably that’s not affordable.”
Citing factors like inflation and other financial hardships stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, Giles emphasized the importance of affordable housing. She remains hopeful the developers will give weight to these economic factors in their evaluation of the spaces.
“I would like to see the properties renovated and turned over to single families who could find affordable housing with them,” Giles said.
The surrounding area boasts a variety of restaurants, retailers, greenery and modernized residential complexes. Giles said she wants to see these new contemporary designs to exist alongside traditional-style buildings, like the or soon-to-be demolished homes.
“The old and the new mingling together — I think that presents an interesting dynamic for the neighborhood,” Giles said. “You still have that older character of the mid-century homes, the single-family homes still here with the new the library and of course the new restaurants, it would make for a great place to live.”