Over Protests, Historic Hotel Faces Demolition 

If the bill becomes law, demolition will begin no later than Aug. 1.

Discussion about what to do with the state-owned buildings has been mounting for more than a decade. Last year, the debate reached a fever pitch as those against demolition began voicing opposition and floating alternatives.

The Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods (A.C.O.R.N.) is among the preservationist groups vehemently opposed to tearing down the Murphy. Jennie Dotts, executive director of A.C.O.R.N., argues that the public has been misled and shut out of talks about the Murphy Hotel's status.

"What is going on with the building?" Dotts asks. She says she's posed the question to a slew of legislators and state officials. "No one wants to claim responsibility," she says.

In his "City of the Future" plan unveiled in January, Wilder recommends turning the old Murphy Hotel into an urban law center — a project of the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University and the city.

Rodney A. Smolla, dean of UR's law school, says plans for such a project have been floated but are tentative. "The law school has been interested in exploring locations for some student housing and some clinical programs downtown, and the Murphy Hotel was one of a dozen sites that we looked at," Smolla says, "but we're not zeroing in at this moment on any specific site."

That nobody appears to be zeroing in, Dotts says, is the problem. "A landmark is going to be gone because people don't know who to talk to," she says.S


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