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Work stopped on planned Downtown hotel

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 5/18/2019, 6 a.m.
For a decade, an eight-story building at 5th and Franklin streets was a city-backed nursery for small businesses.

For a decade, an eight-story building at 5th and Franklin streets was a city-backed nursery for small businesses.

Multiple black-owned companies and other fledgling firms made their home in the Advantech building in seeking a foothold in the market before the city’s Economic Development Authority called it quits and sold the building.

Nearly three years later, the building is a moldering, vacant hulk that is still awaiting conversion into a boutique hotel by its current owner, Shamin Hotels.

Just after the $2.5 million purchase in October 2016, Shamin Hotel’s chief executive officer, Neil Amin, told Richmond BizSense, an online business news service, that the company planned to renovate the building into an 87-room Moxy Hotel by Marriott.

But work has been stopped for months on the project, and neither Mr. Amin nor any other official of the Chester-based Shamin Hotels responded to a Free Press request for comment.

According to Mark Olinger, the city director of planning and development review, the records show “a permit was issued in early 2018 for interior demolition.” And for months, a dumpster on Franklin Street in front of the building was being filled with broken Sheetrock and other debris.

However, Mr. Olinger stated, “Work has stopped because (the owner) does not have an approved plan of development, which means (the owner) cannot get a building permit.

“We have reached out to get the additional information we need from (the owner) to finalize the plan of development,” Mr. Olinger continued. “Once that is approved, we can move to finalizing the building permit.”

When that will happen is not clear.

A filled dumpster was finally removed on April 30. Before then, wind had blown paper and other debris onto the sidewalk. The removal followed a Free Press query to the city Department of Public Works about the permit allowing the dumpster to take up parking spaces in front of the building.

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