It has been a full year since health and safety violations forced Staunton to evacuate the Beverley Hotel. That left dozens of tenants scrambling to find new homes, and left the building's future in doubt. But what about now?
A laundry list of code violations and safety hazards that went ignored put residents in danger, similar to a building on fire. That's how Staunton City Manager Steve Owen explained the dire situation. It forced people out of the century-old apartment complex with only seven days notice.
Standing at a major gateway to downtown Staunton, the Beverley remains vacant but full of possibilities. Next door neighbor Bruce Elder, who's also a city councilman, envisions workforce housing.
"I think it could be developed as a wonderful place for young people to live, so they could walk to work," Elder said.
A redevelopment project could get financial support from historic or new markets tax credits. Right now the Beverley is owned by a Lexington developer that could either take on such a project or find a buyer with their own vision.
"We don't want any boarded up buildings, that one in particular is one you see on your way into town," Owen said. "So it would be very nice to have someone do something with it."
In the days leading up to the boarding up, the city and its partners scrambled to relocate the roughly 40 people who called the Beverley home. Social services was at the center of that effort, but one year later, the agency says it no longer has contact with the Beverley's former tenants.
"Most that I have talked to are much happier in the place they are now," Elder said. "In fact they found a safer, cleaner place."
One former tenant, the Taste of India restaurant, needed seven months to find a new home.
"That was a bad situation for us, you know," said Taste of India owner Mausam Shrestse. "That spot is a prime spot. People, when they drive, everybody can see that in front with their eyes. but here they have to find out where we are."
But business is still strong on West Beverley Street, where the Taste of India is right in the middle of restaurant row.
Staunton is still owed roughly $50,000 in back taxes, utility fees and cleanup expenses. Owen says collecting on all that is unlikely until the building is sold.