When the playhouse was built, it cost $20 million
In a move that shocked neighbors, the wooden play house that once sat on a corner of the property where they’d bought it and a few blocks from their house was being demolished to make way for a larger apartment complex.
“It’s just going to be torn down.
And I’ll have to make do with the pieces I’ve got,” said neighbor Mary-Anne Miller.
The Playhouse’s original owner, a construction contractor named Robert McKean, died in 2004 and his estate sold the land for a tidy sum.
But by the time McKeans widow bought the property in 2006, the play house had been torn down and replaced with a five-story apartment complex with a high-rise penthouse.
Miller said McKeas heirs told her that the building would be torn apart for a park and parkland park in the future.
She said the developer told her there would be a community garden, a playground and a cafe on the site.
She called that “a waste of money.”
“He said, ‘Well, the money’s on the fence.
The community gardens are going to grow and the park is going to get bigger,'” Miller said.
“But they’re not going to have a park.
They’re not gonna have a playground.
And that’s the whole point.”
In 2012, the city of Richmond told Miller she’d be required to vacate the building by Jan. 1, 2019.
And in 2017, a city employee called the property to complain about the deteriorating condition of the building.
A Richmond Parks and Recreation spokesperson said the city didn’t have any enforcement actions pending against the property owner.
“I think the city was a little surprised that they would say, ‘No, you can’t be there,'” Miller told CNN.
“They’re supposed to be there.”
Miller said she and her neighbors are now looking to build a community park on the property and are planning a protest for the demolition.
“I have a long way to go to get my neighbors to take my side,” Miller said, “but at least I know we’re not the only ones that have issues with this.”