Booker T. Anderson Community Center restoration project hits delays

Booker T. Anderson Community Center restoration faces more delay
The Booker T. Anderson Community Center has been closed since October 2020 due to a fire. (Photo taken by Kathy Chouteau in 2022)

By Kathy Chouteau

The project to restore Booker T. Anderson Community Center, which has been shuttered since it was ravaged by a two-alarm fire Oct. 28, 2020, is facing delays.

While the project to refurbish the building was set to begin this summer, a disagreement over property insurance for the recently vandalized center has prompted the City to seek a new contractor.

During a special meeting of the Richmond City Council Fri., Aug. 19, 2022, councilmembers unanimously voted to approve the termination of the contract with Angotti & Reilly, Inc., for the Booker T. Anderson Community Center fire restoration, which was previously approved for an amount not to exceed $2,583,900 ($2,349,000 low bid plus $234,900 contingency), per the City Council agenda. Concurrently, City staff were green lighted to negotiate with the next lowest bidder or to re-bid the contract.

At the time of the fire in October 2020, the community center was seriously damaged due to “homeless activities in the park,” per the City. Approximately 3,800 square feet of the building suffered fire, water and smoke damage, and an additional 2,200 square feet sustained major smoke damage. The west side of the building, including the library, multipurpose room and graphic arts room, were all impacted.

In July, thefts of copper wiring and pipes at the unoccupied community center at 960 S 47th St. occurred around the time construction to repair it was poised to start. This prompted the contractor to increase estimates and the Richmond Police Department to get City Council approval for round-the-clock security at the community center. 

Throughout late spring and into the summer, the contractor and City had numerous back-and-forth communications primarily related to who would carry the project’s Builders Risk Insurance—delaying the start of the community center’s restoration, per the special meeting agenda documents.

Ultimately, this disagreement with Angotti & Reilly, Inc. over insurance led to the City seeking termination of their contract. City officials stated in the agenda documents that the contractor had “not been responsive to the contract requirements for Builder’s Risk Insurance, despite the City’s efforts to be accommodating in order to move the project forward.”

No further information was provided during the City Council’s special meeting Aug. 19 as to which new contractor might be hired for the community center’s restoration, or a projected timeline for the completion of repairs there.