RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Tenants of the embattled Grace place apartments in Richmond were forced to leave their homes on Christmas Eve after a burst pipe flooded the building.

The disaster struck just a week after the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) announced its plans to transform the dilapidated building into affordable housing. RRHA acquired the building from its previous owners after they failed to pay property taxes.

According to Angela Fountain, VP of Communications for RRHA, “We sprang into action.”

She told 8News that the agency paid for the tenants to relocate to an extended stay hotel and is now in the process of evaluating the extent of the damage caused by the flooding. Fountain said it’s still not clear what impact the flooding will have on RRHA’s plans to renovate the building, but it’s likely it will throw a wrench in the works.

“We can’t say for certain,” she said, “but I would imagine.”

Part of the challenge is that the building was already suffering from extensive maintenance issues inherited from the previous owners — issues so severe, they led the building to be condemned in 2021.

“We bought it basically as-is,” Fountain said.

RRHA was still evaluating the repairs that would be needed to address those problems when the pipes burst on Christmas, but at a Dec. 20 press conference, RRHA CEO Steven Nesmith told reporters that in its current state, the building was likely already uninhabitable.

“From an untrained eye I have, there’s serious structural damage,” Nesmith said.