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City Council OKs money for raises, Church Hill North project

Jeremy Lazarus | 12/15/2017, 6:47 a.m.
Most city employees will receive fatter paychecks this Friday, Dec. 15, while construction of the first 105 apartments will be ...

Most city employees will receive fatter paychecks this Friday, Dec. 15, while construction of the first 105 apartments will be able to move ahead on the site of the former Armstrong High School off Nine Mile Road in the East End.

Richmond City Council cleared the way with the approval of ordinances Monday night to make it happen.

Employees in good standing with at least one year of service are to receive a 2.5 percent bonus in their upcoming paychecks, except for police officers, firefighters and staff of constitutional officers, according to the legislation that was approved unanimously.

The council set aside $2.4 million in October for the bonuses for city workers who did not received a salary increase this year.

City Council also voted 7-2 to borrow $4.9 million and provide the money to help with the construction of 60 regular apartments and 45 senior apartments on the cleared grounds of the former school at 1611 N. 31st St.

The city already has provided more than $8 million for the property for the project, dubbed Church Hill North, that represents the first step toward replacing the 505-unit Creighton Court public housing community that sits across the street.

Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority and its development partner, The Community Builders of Boston, are undertaking the construction that the city estimates will cost $25 million. The developers needed a commitment for the additional $4.9 million in city funds to start the construction.

The Free Press mistakenly indicated the cost would be $30 million in the Dec. 7-9 edition.

The legislation that council passed did not include any goals or requirements for the project to hire residents of Creighton Court or the surrounding area or to hire businesses in the area.

However, RRHA previously committed to doing so and TCB has hired a staff member to ensure that businesses and residents are connected to opportunities for contracts and employment.

City Council also passed legislation allowing RRHA to issue $6 million in bonds that TCB will sell to a bank to provide the final piece of funding for the project. The city is not backing the bonds, and neither RRHA nor the city would have to pay them off if TCB were to default, the council was told before the vote.