Council President Hilbert may be ‘confused’ about St. Luke project
11/3/2017, 2:28 a.m.
Re “Hilbert critical of city’s handling of St. Luke project in Gilpin Court,” Free Press Oct. 26-28 edition:
Possibly City Council President Chris Hilbert is confused in his claim that the city administration is blocking permits for upscale apartments and commercial space at the St. Luke Building in North Jackson Ward.
The North Jackson Ward neighborhood, across Interstates 95 and 64 from Jackson Ward, is more widely known for the impoverished Gilpin Court public housing community than for the St. Luke Building, which was the home of Maggie Walker’s business and banking interests.
The St. Luke Building, and a few other buildings, are on about 15 acres of vacant land, with no public housing, along the edge of the interstate.
Wanda Stallings, developer of the St. Luke project, and others met with Mr. Hilbert in 2014 about the development of the St. Luke Building and the 15 acres of vacant land. Ms. Stallings had proposed mixed use, with possible upscale apartments and commercial space in the St. Luke Building.
A build out analysis being prepared at that time showed that the 15 acres of vacant property could support more than 1 million square feet of new mixed-use space and parking. This new space could meet some of the expansion needs of MCV Health Services, the Richmond Bio-Tech Park and the new Consolidated Lab Building.
This new development would free Gilpin Court from isolation and provide job opportunities in the neighborhood.
The project would need a zoning change for the whole 15-acre area because a special use permit/spot zoning for the St. Luke Building alone, would not work.
Mr. Hilbert was asked to initiate the zoning change more than three years ago. Mr. Hilbert vowed to help.
The building permit for the St. Luke Building is likely denied by the city due to inadequate zoning. Mr. Hilbert’s inaction is the likely culprit. What does the record show?
The writer is an architect who owns property within the 15 acres of vacant land in North Jackson Ward.