Last week the city hired a new contractor, Virtexco Corp., to resume work on the armory, and this should begin by mid-April, says Bill Farrar, spokesman for the city's Department of Public Works. The city's contract with Norfolk-based Virtexco amounts to $740,000; the total cost for the project is $980,000.
Farrar says the city has remained committed to seeing the structure restored, but until recently had to contend with a gap in funding. "We're moving forward," he says. "At this point, it's good news."
The First Virginia Volunteers Battalion Armory, as it is officially named, was built in 1895 and is the oldest armory still standing in the state. It's served as a home for an African-American military battalion, a school, a World War II reception center, and in the 1970s, housed Richmond's Black History Museum.
In another yet unresolved matter, Davis Brothers Construction filed a lawsuit Jan. 12 in Richmond Circuit Court against the city of Richmond seeking $231,807, which it claims is the remainder of its terminated contract. No ruling has been issued, Farrar says.
Richardson, an architectural historian with the Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods, just wants to see the place aglow. With his letter pleading for action from Wilder, Richardson says, "It's an in-your-face challenge to Wilder to heal the festering wound in Jackson Ward." Brandon Walters
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