Residents Rally To Stop Demolition

Residents Rally To Stop Demolition

Historic preservationists take their case to Old Town streets, courts

It's not often that someone who is being sued joins with those taking the legal action to support their cause. That is exactly what occurred last Thursday morning in the 1500 block of King Street.

Alexandria City Councilman Andrew Macdonald joined the rally of historic preservationists in front of 1520, 1522 and 1524 King St. assembled to thwart the demolition of the three historic buildings.

"Although I'm one of the people being sued, since I'm a member of City Council, I'm hoping City Council will take a hard look a preserving these buildings and many others in Alexandria," Macdonald said.

Five Alexandrians have filed suit in Alexandria Circuit Court against city council and Mayor William Euille to prevent the whole or partial demolition of the 100-year-old buildings.

CALLING THEMSELVES the "Upper King Street Preservationists," the group was led by city resident Boyd Walker, who also serves as the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.

"These buildings should not be torn down just because someone doesn't like them," he told the people assembled on the sidewalk.

"It's a sad day when citizens have to file a law suit to save our history," Macdonald said. "Do we really want to look like Tysons Corner? I don't think so."

Others attending the rally who are also plaintiffs in the suit, were Pat Troy, Douglas Thurman, Georgia Kay Cannady, and Lillian White.

The impetus for the rally was a meeting being held by the developer, DSF Long King Street I, LLC, to discuss their demolition plans.

"They have submitted their application for a demolition permit to the city and hope to get underway in two to three weeks," said Linda Couture, treasurer of the Old Town Civic Association.

Following the rally Couture attended the developer's meeting where demolition and management plans were discussed.

"I asked the question about what effect it would have on their plans if BAR did not approve the concept plan," she said. "They were not sure."

According to Couture, several tenants of the threatened buildings also attended the meeting.

"They claimed they had not been notified of the impending demolition. However, the developers told them they were only required to notify the building owners," she said.

DURING THE RALLY, Leslie Zupan, who has been researching the buildings' history for the preservationist group told the crowd that much of the land around upper King Street belonged to Col. Francis Peyton, a Revolutionary War officer and former Alexandria mayor, coroner and Justice of the Peace.

"When he died in 1836, the estate was divided among his heirs. It was consolidated when his son Lucian bought the land from his brother William in 1845," Zupan said.

Lucian subsequently sold the land to Edward Home of Washington, DC, in 1850, who then sold both land and building to David Windsor in 1851. That same day in 1851, Windsor resold the property to Henry Bontz, a local butcher. Zupan discovered Bontz and his descendants owned the property until the 1980s.

The future of the properties is now in the hands of City Council, BAR and the Circuit Court. In addition to the five plaintiffs of the City Council suit, 52 Alexandria property owners have appealed a previous BAR decision to approve the demolition.