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Letter: Aug. 29, 2012

‘Demolition By Neglect’

— To the Editor:

I am completely appalled that the City Staff continues to recommend that the former Beachcomber restaurant at 0 Prince Street be leased out for the operation of a restaurant only.

At your last public hearing I spoke to you during the open mike session and recommended that you consider the sale of this property rather than leasing it and then subsequently reimbursing the city’s Open Space Fund from where the funds to originally procure the property originated. In addition, I also recommended that uses other than restaurants should be considered. From the ensuing comments rendered by council I was under the impression that serious consideration would be given to those recommendations before the city embarked upon a redo of the property. Currently it is the city’s number one example of “demolition by neglect.”

I would have thought that the city, after suffering through the yet unresolved demise of the unoccupied Waterfront Food Court, would not want to engender a repeat performance with the Beachcomber.

It seems that every time a vacant piece of commercial property in Old Town becomes available, the planners always want to fill the vacancy with a restaurant. It doesn’t make any difference whether or not a restaurant existed in the space previously. Apparently the planners haven’t read the Parking Study which unequivocally shows that the over proliferation of restaurants in Old Town have caused our parking and traffic problems. Isn’t it about time someone took note of this and acted in a responsible manner? The Beachcomber could very easily be used a small office building or a small museum. It could also become the cultural focus of a redesigned Waterfront Park reoriented so as to focus on the building. This would attract people to the waterfront by drawing their attention to the Beachcomber as they come to the end of King Street. This could be improved further by removing the road on the north side of the Beachcomber in order to integrate it into the Waterfront Park thereby focusing on the Beachcomber.

Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet

Alexandria