New contract sought for delayed community center project

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 long delayed Booker T. Anderson Community Center Fire Restoration project is progressing, as Richmond City Council will be asked Tuesday to approve a contract for extensive work on the fire-damaged building with Arntz Builders, Inc.

The newly proposed contract for the Community Center’s refurbishment is for just over $3.3 million, “a significantly higher amount” than the previous, now-defunct contract with Angotii & Reilly, Inc., as “construction costs have risen as much as twenty-five percent,” according to city staff. 

But city staff is recommending City Council approve the contract to expedite the project, which has been delayed by eight months.

Located at 960 South 47th St., the community center was damaged in a sizeable fire Oct. 28, 2020, which was attributed to the park’s homeless activity. The building’s west side—including its Library, Multi-Use Rooms and Graphic Arts Room—received the most damage. While City Council initially awarded the contract to Angotii & Reilly, Inc. earlier this year, the City encountered extensive delays in “getting the contractor to move forward,” including a disagreement over property insurance for the center that has endured vandalism. This situation prompted City staff to terminate the contract with Angotii & Reilly and contact Arntz Builders, Inc. instead.