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Wilder Losing Grip on Murphy Hotel

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Susan Pollard, director of communications for the Virginia Department of General Services, says the group is meeting every two weeks to plan the renovations of the 9th Street Building, the former Hotel Richmond next to Capital Square, and the demolition of the Murphy, slated to be replaced with a new state office building.

The General Assembly appropriated $9.5 million for the design of the new building, demolition and renovations of the old Hotel Richmond.

Wilder had designated the Murphy earlier this year as the future home of his proposed urban law center, to be developed in partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond. The law center would become a campus extension of sorts for UR, with student housing and classrooms on the first floors.

A planning official with the city of Richmond attended the first design planning meeting Sept. 13, Pollard says. But the topic of the city gaining control of the property for Wilder's law center, however, didn't come up.

"That was not discussed in the forum," Pollard says. "In terms of that issue, the legislation is what it is."

Linwood Norman, the mayor's press secretary, says Wilder is still interested in the Murphy. "We would like very much to locate an urban law center in the Murphy Hotel building, and are still hoping to see that building preserved," Norman says.

The design work is expected to be completed by year's end, Pollard says, and demolition of the Murphy would likely take place sometime in 2007. S



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