Monday, November 14, 2011

For Sale: One "Shrine"

While browsing the City's Web site last week, the Growler almost fell out of the big comfy bear chair.

On the Planning & Zoning historic preservation site is a photograph of the old American Legion Building at 224 N. Fayette Street and an announcement that it is for sale for a mere $675,000. The property does not belong to the City; instead, it was purchased more than two years ago by local developer William Cromley, who proposed razing it. 

Though Mr. Cromley gained the Council's support for tearing down the American Legion building -- whose dwindling band of brothers let the place earn a notorious reputation as a violence-prone booze hall before they lost it in a foreclosure -- a lawsuit filed in Alexandria Circuit Court by Boyd Walker has brought his plans to a temporary halt. Instead, Mr. Cromley must wait two years (starting from March 2011) to see if a buyer will emerge who is willing to purchase the building at the stipulated price and preserve it.

City staff has gone overboard and the arrogance shows.  Readers should click on this link and read the City's flyer regarding the property's allowable uses.  Among the alternative uses:  (1) a convenience store; or (2) a grocery store.

We all know what the latter means:  an unregulated market, a by-right use, authorized by staff under the pretense that it is an okay contrivance.  Within a few weeks, the grocery or market's display of the five food groups, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, will disappear.  Meanwhile, the boozery begins operation in earnest.

P&Z staff will bat their not so delicate eyelashes and claim the City has no other choice.  After all, the building is historic and any use that saves it is justified.