Former Red Cross buildings near Nichol Park demolished Tuesday

Former Red Cross buildings near Nichol Park demolished Tuesday

City crews on Tuesday began demolishing the former Richmond American Red Cross buildings located at the edge of Nichol Park, after they were deemed to be sources of blight in the community.

The main structure at 3200 Macdonald Ave. was built in 1944 and had housed the Red Cross for decades. But the building had not been used for years, had fallen into disrepair and had attracted squatters, according to city officials. The other smaller building, also dilapidated, had once served as a storage shed and also clubhouse for an amateur radio club.

We learned some of the building’s history from a recent study that found that the one-story buildings were not eligible for listing in the California Register of Historic Resources.

“Neither structure – either separately or as a district – meet any of the four criteria for eligibility,” Carey & Co., Inc. stated in its study, which can be read here.

demolished.10-20The property’s more recent history is hardly as storied. Tim Higares, who heads the Richmond Police Department’s Code Enforcement Unit, said the buildings were “really deteriorating.”

“They were becoming breached continuously by homeless people,” Higares said, adding that the city had a responsibility to clean up one of its own blighted properties.

In the short term, the property will be landscaped and possibly a portion of it will be used for parking. In the long term, the city manager and Recreation department will have to decide how to use the site, Higares said.

There was, however, one structure deemed of historic significance on the property. Several high-ranking members of the Richmond Fire Department asked that city crews not damage an old flagpole (see below). Higares did not know the flagpole’s history, but said RFD plans to deploy it elsewhere in the city. We’ll place a call into RFD to find out more about this mysterious flagpole.