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BAR Gets Starbuck's Sign Issue Back for Another Look

The Alexandria City Council told the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) in the Old and Historic District to take another look at the signs on the new Starbuck’s Café at the corner of King and Union streets.

The matter came before Council on Saturday as an appeal from residents of Old Town. They were objecting to the signs on the Starbuck’s Café, which were approved by the BAR some months ago.

Oscar Fitzgerald explained BAR’s position, saying, “We first approved these two signs last February. In September, when they were hung, they were hung incorrectly, but Starbuck’s decided that they liked the way they looked and came back to us for permission to leave them the way they are. We granted that permission, and no one spoke at the BAR meetings at which this came up.”

The signs are green and white and are hung at an angle. They are lighted by 60-watt bulbs and are made of a synthetic wood-like material. Wood was not used because of its susceptibility to the weather. “These types of materials are allowed throughout the Old and Historic District,” Fitzgerald said.

Sarita Schotta was one of those appealing the BAR’s decision. “These signs are too large, and the brackets that were used are too large,” she said. “Compared to the brackets that have been used on signs around this building, they look like brackets on steroids. This sign is simply not in keeping with the historic character of this area or this building.”

Vice Mayor Redella S. “Del” Pepper agreed. “I really don’t like the signs,” she said. “They just look too modern.”

Councilwoman Joyce Woodson had another problem. “I don’t have a problem with the sign,” she said. “I just don’t understand what criteria was used to make this decision or many of the decisions that the BAR makes. I have sat with staff and with representatives from the BAR and tried to understand the process, but I still don’t get it.”

Council decided to let BAR take another look at the signage and try to work something out with the residents and Starbuck’s. Unless there is another appeal, Council will not discuss the matter further.