Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Protect City of Alexandria’s Historic Image

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Protect City of Alexandria’s Historic Image

For many years, I have maintained that the Alexandria City Council, the Planning Commission and the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) have not provided adequate oversight for the Old and Historic District. As an example, much of the new construction on the waterfront is incompatible with the historic nature of the location, while other new construction is of poor architectural design.

It is not too much to ask that new developments fit into existing structures, but they need not be historic replicas. One only needs to visit the District of Columbia to see some examples of classy, newer structures that do not clash with buildings of great historic significance. The three newest structures on the waterfront (the Indigo Hotel, the Boat Club, and the planned Robinson Terminal South) do not fit in with the historic character of the waterfront community. On the other hand, the Harborside development at the foot of Wolfe Street is not historic, but is totally compatible with the neighborhood.

So, what could be an even greater blight on the historic district? The city is tearing up the historic, cobblestoned 100 block of Prince Street! Although this was due to repairs being made at one of the houses on the block, cobblestones and bricks were removed to dig a trench, but once the job was completed, the trench was covered over with tar. When will the cobblestones and bricks be replaced? Every year, literally thousands of sightseers and wedding parties are seen on the Prince Street cobblestones taking pictures that are seen all over the world. We need to keep the best face possible on what remains of the historic district. I urge the City Council to closely monitor this issue.

Townsend A. "Van" Van Fleet