Hopewell wants in on Inn
City sets hearing Tuesday to purchase Riverview Inn property for $1.1 million, possibly redevelop it
HOPEWELL — The city is trying to buy some riverfront property where a motel now stands not so much to get into the hospitality business but as a potential investment for economic development.
On Tuesday, City Council will hold a public hearing to hear a proposal to purchase the Riverview Inn & Suites, located on state Route 10 at the Appomattox River. Assistant City Manager Charles F. Dane said the goal is to gain control of the property and have it as a carrot to dangle in front of prospective developers.
Hopewell currently has an option in place to buy the motel, which is adjacent to The Boathouse restaurant, Dane said.
The building, formerly known as the Evergreen Motel, is not going to be torn down right away, Dane said, nor will any of the occupants who pay by the week or month to live there be evicted. The quick turnaround is necessary, he said, because of rumors that another party might be interested in purchasing it and keeping it as is.
“We don’t want to own it, we don’t want to run it,” Dane said. If Hopewell is able to purchase the property, Dane said the city would contract with Riverview’s current operator to lease it back to the operator for one year, with future six-month options, while the area is marketed.
Dane said if another business were to purchase it before the city, “it could be another 15 or 20 years” before the city would have an opportunity to buy and redevelop it.
According to the public notice of the hearing, citizens are being asked to show up “if they really wish for the current motel to cease to exist and be redeveloped into another use.”
City staff is recommending council approve the deal “as a much-needed change to substandard property along one of the city’s primary entranceways, as an opportunity for further redevelopment along the
corridor, and as a public safety enhancement. ”The city claims that more than 1,000 public-safety calls have been made to Riverview in the past five years.
Hopewell is in the midst of working to redevelop its Appomattox River coastline as a popular visitor destination. In addition to The Boathouse, there are also plans to develop the $39 million Francisco Landing project that will have mixed use of business and residential spots, as well as boat access and a “green space.” Council gave the official go-ahead for that project at its Nov. 27 meeting.
Rumors about the motel’s future have been circulating for some time now. When The Boathouse opened in the former Navigator’s Den restaurant site in July
2017, speculation immediately began on what would happen with Riverview.
Dane said the city has wanted to buy the property for several years now. At one point, the asking price was $4 million, but it has since dropped to $2.5 million and now the current $1.1 million option.
A message was left by The Progress-Index for Bhupendra Patel, Riverview’s owner, for comment about the proposal. That message has not been returned.
City Council’s meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at the Municipal Building downtown.