Notorious landlord’s houses set for auction

The foreclosed properties up for auction include 3150 Lawson St., left, and 1613 Spotsylvania St.

A notorious Richmond landlord will see his property count shrink this week amid foreclosure proceedings.

Seven properties owned by Oliver Lawrence and his Bayou Properties LLC are headed to foreclosure auction Thursday.

The real estate includes run-down and boarded-up homes and lots in Manchester and north of Church Hill at 315 W. 27th St., 2401 V St., 1613 Spotsylvania St., 1439 N. 19th St., 3100 Q St., 2420 Lamb Ave. and 3150 Lawson St.

The seven properties combined have an assessed value of $350,000, according to city records.

Franklin Federal Savings Bank is the lender and trustee conducting the foreclosures. Lynn Tickle, a senior vice president at Franklin Federal, did not return a call seeking comment.

Lawrence for years has been the focus of neighborhood ire from Church Hill to Petersburg, developing a reputation as an absent owner who lets his properties fall apart. He has been cited for hundreds of property violations.

In 2009, fed up with his flouting of property codes and laws, a judge sentenced Lawrence to spend 40 days in one of his slums properties at 1429 N. 19th St.

Lawrence owns at least 28 properties in Richmond, according to a search of city records.

He’s seen plenty of his holdings end up at the auction block.

In late 2010, three of his foreclosed properties on the developing Grace Street corridor sometimes referred to as “Little Baghdad” were purchased by Ben Adamson of Corinthian Construction, who renovated them into apartments for $1.5 million.

More than a dozen others were sold at auction weeks later, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Blight is something Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones has tried to combat, according to city hall spokesman Mike Wallace.

Wallace pointed to the SeeClickFix program on the city’s website and the 311 Call Center as resources that residents can use to report property issues. Wallace said officials can enforce the city code by putting a lien on a property if the owner isn’t compliant.

Wallace said the code enforcement division averages 4,000 to 5,000 inspections per month that resulted in about 1,500 citations over the last two months of last year.

“Our goal has been to empower the residents to take ownership of their communities and report these violations,” Wallace said.

The auction for Lawrence’s real estate will take place on the steps of the Richmond city courthouse.

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Crafty
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Crafty

Richmond continues to lag behind other cities of its size due to woefully inadequate housing code enforcement. If a building is not improved upon within a year of it’s being purchased (given it is not up to code) the city needs to put into place a law that allows it to be auctioned off. There are hundreds of these types of property all over the city that have been vacant and uninhabitable for decades with seemingly no change in status. This is what keeps neighborhood property values and city tax revnues depressed. It isn’t rocket science people!

Michael Dodson
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Michael Dodson

Crafty is definately not a Virginia native. This is a Dillon Rule state so the City can’t just make up a new law on vacant building. Under the basic building code, all the city can do is ensure the buildings window and door are secured and the yard mowed and clean of trash. Vacant and secured is allowed. You register the vacant building and pay the $25 fee. People have tried and tried to tighten the laws but the GA isn’t keen to action that reduce owner rights. There is a wonderful house on N Robinson St just off Main… Read more »

Morgan
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Morgan

Michael and Crafty,
Perhaps the Derelict Building Ordinance would be of interest to the two of you. The state passed a law stating that localities can now carry out receivership, only after defining a derelict building. The ordinance is crafted but needs a little tweaking. http://eservices.ci.richmond.va.us/applications/clerkstracking/getPDF.asp?NO=2012-141