PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Petersburg residents are fed up with driving into town and seeing a beat up hotel.
The redevelopment project for the hotel has been delayed for months without planned renovations. Chris Harrison, the developer who owns the hotel located near the Bank Street exit on Interstate 95, said rising construction costs put the project on hold.
Harrison asked the Petersburg City Council on Tuesday to approve a measure that would get the project back on track. Council members grilled Harrison on why the project is taking so long.
“You don’t know how it is living in this city with this building the way it’s been looking, and this council and the citizens are frustrated,” council member Darrin Hill said.
Some residents spoke about the impact the decrepit hotel has had on the community. “This is on a major thoroughfare, this is basically the gateway region to Virginia from the South,” said Petersburg resident Marcus Squires. “I mean this basically says ‘Welcome to Virginia’ and it’s this large, blighted project with the windows bust out, graffiti sprayed across it.”
Annette Smith-Lee, another council member, also expressed disappointment.
“It’s an embarrassment and we believed in you,” she said.
Harrison told council members he has been working to find ways to offset rising construction costs. He found a program that allows cities to borrow money for energy efficient projects and grants cities more time to pay the debt back.
Petersburg’s city manager says she will consider the option.
“As we start to look at our city as a whole and our other projects we need done,” said city manager Aretha Ferrell-Benavides. “I think this may be a tool we may want to utilize and work on regional organizations on that.”
Residents said it’s time for the redevelopment project to get moving again.
“There are just a lot of questions that still need to be answered about the project and I’m hoping Mr. Harrison won’t abandon it,” Squires explained.
Harrison says if the city council approves his proposal, work should resume around August.