The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry is investigating two asbestos-related complaints about renovation at the former Julian's on West Broad Street, a spokeswoman for the department says.
The complaints are just the latest bump in the road for the project. The city issued stop-work orders Aug. 14 and 21 when construction went ahead before city permits had been approved. Last month, the developer Sam Moore, owner of the strip-club Velvet in Shockoe Bottom was charged with assaulting a pregnant woman.
Jennifer Wester, an official with the state's Department of Labor and Industry, declines to share details about the nature of the complaints because they're still being investigated, but says that Moore is contesting the first citation.
Moore did not Style's calls by press time.
The city of Richmond has instructed its building inspectors to perform random inspections of the site.
Several building materials contain asbestos, which is known to cause cancer and therefore is heavily regulated by multiple government agencies. Wester says it's safer when contained in shingles or ceiling and floor tiles. When these get broken up in the course of a demolition, or when the insulation has the asbestos, it can become airborne and is considered more hazardous.
Neighborhood activist Ken Martin closely monitors changes along West Broad Street and says he's particularly worried about this latest development.
"The concern for me [is] that there are the workers in that building on a daily basis," Martin says. "Not only is there asbestos in the neighborhood, but it's flying across the street into the Children's Museum."
A Children's Museum spokesman was unaware of the complaints.
Although the new business going into the building is rumored to be a large gay nightclub or other adult-themed venue, Martin says he wouldn't be comfortable with anything other that a family-oriented restaurant with hours similar to Julian's.
"People are going to say I'm beating up on these people, but we need them. They're part of what makes Richmond Richmond," Martin says of those who might patronize a gay nightclub.
"But I believe there's a time and a place for everything," he continues. "Next to a historic district and across from the Children's Museum is no place for an adult-themed restaurant." SClick here for more News and Features