To the Editor:
Look around Alexandria. What percentage of Old Town is actually old?
Huge swathes of our main thoroughfare, King Street, are dominated by modern office buildings and hotels with the three, four, and five hundred blocks of King Street particularly notable testaments to razing history for development. Paddle a canoe from Jones Point up to Canal Center Plaza and you are hard-pressed to find anything that was there 40 years ago. Enter Old Town via the parkway from Washington, D.C., and you are welcomed by blocks of new construction before you get to any old buildings. Let’s not even begin to address how many blocks of subsidized and low-income housing have been replaced with upscale townhouses and condominiums.
Yes, Gadsby’s Tavern, the Apocathery Shop, the Carlyle House, and the Athenaeum, among others, are well-preserved treasures. But, what is left of the old structures, those built in the 18th and 19th centuries, is largely owned by individual homeowners.
I consider myself fortunate to live in a house built in 1776. My neighbors and I maintain our homes to the exacting and expensive standards of the Board of Architectural review. We navigate our neighborhoods crowded with double-parked restaurant, hotel, and store delivery trucks and get stuck driving behind gigantic tour buses proceeding at a glacial pace while belching exhaust. We search in vain for parking spots near our homes. We pay more in real estate taxes year after year. While we love living here — we pay a price.
Regarding the city’s proposed waterfront plan, I feel that the interests of businesses and developers are being catered to on the backs of residents of Old Town. I feel used and unrepresented by my elected officials.
I am all for increasing access to the waterfront, but increasing density and encouraging new hotels, restaurants and houses along the Old Town waterfront will have a negative impact on my quality of life. And as someone who contributes to making Old Town historic, rather than new, I would like my voice to be heard.