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Residents Protest Hotel Idea

The three-quarter-acre property is under contract, and sources say one of the potential developers would build a miniluxury hotel there and perhaps a swimming pool, too. The selling price has been reduced from $1.4 to $900,000, Costa says.

A representative with Harrison & Bates, the company handling the sale of the building, declined to provide any details of deals that are on the table but told Style last week that at least two parties were "very interested" in the property.

This was news to many Church Hill residents, particularly those who live in the St. John's district, the stretch of blocks closest to the languishing land. "It just came out of nowhere kind of like a little mystery," Costa says.

And many residents aren't happy. "It's a residential area, we don't need a hotel there," Costa says. He's drafted a petition. It states that Church Hill residents who sign oppose three things when it comes to development or use of the property:

Anything that would require more than the existing number of allotted parking spaces — 48. "In other words, we want to keep it small," Costa says.

Any use that would mean applying for or getting an ABC or food-handling license.

And any owner who would make additions or alterations to the structure that would compromise its architectural significance. Famed architect Philip Johnson designed the building that was built in 1968.

A miniluxury hotel would conflict with each of these conditions.

One Sunday about a month ago, Costa says, a man and his wife canvassed the neighborhood and handed out business cards. They are Tom Bouldin and his wife, Yvonne. Apparently they told some residents that they had purchased the building and were going to turn it into a kind of hotel, with a health club and pool on the roof. Costa says Bouldin had told some Church Hill neighbors that he also planned to raise the building by 35 feet, build a three-tiered parking deck and operate a "wedding servicing center" on-site.

Tom Bouldin — who seems to have business ties in Sandston and Chicago — did not return Style's calls.

Costa's petition appears to have more than 100 signatures. He says every resident within a four-block radius of the building has signed. He hopes this will be enough to thwart anyone interested in building something like a hotel or restaurant there.

Already the 2300 Club, The Patrick Henry Inn and Richmond Hill pump hundreds of extra cars — and revelers — into the neighborhood. "It's a zoo here on weekends," Costa complains. "It's like trying to get out of Fenway Park."

— Brandon Walters

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