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Two sides split over historic school building

Seven Hills School wants to convert it to 20 apartments units

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Anna Chytla currently owns the Seven Hills School in Lynchburg. It was built as a home in 1909 and turned into a school in the 1960s. She's looking to turn the old school to 20 upscale apartments units for young and elderly people in the community.

 "The kitchens will have counter granite tops. There will be washers and dryers in ever unit. The 1960s part will be very cool mid-century modern and the old part will be restored meticulously," Chytla said.

But some are opposed to the project. They've formed a group called "Save Rivermont Avenue." Bobbi Chester and some of her neighbors don't want to see it rezoned. 

"I know just for myself personally we've made a tremendous investment in this house and we're looking to continue that but if these apartments come in and damage my property value then I'm reconsidering that," Chester said.

Nancy Brandt lives next door and wants to buy the school from Chytla and restore it back to a single-family home.

"I can tell you that we have made her an offer, (a) cash offer. That's about all. She has not responded to that offer yet. I don't feel like I can talk anymore about that until I talk with her," Brandt said.

Some are suggesting to demolish the school part of the building.

"In my view that would be financial suicide. You have to demolish more than 50% of the property. The demolition will be very costly. The building has asbestos and lead paint," Chytla said.

"I think the value is in the beauty of the beholder. We plan on living there. This is our retirement so 10, 15, 20 years. I don't see it as an issue," Brandt said.

Through all the difference, one thing everyone can agree on, they all want something to be done with the building and still preserve its architectural history.

The rezoning proposal already went before the city's planning commission board last month. The final decision is left up to th City Council, which will vote on May 22.


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