Alexandria Letter: Preserve Neighborhood

Alexandria Letter: Preserve Neighborhood

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

In response to a letter submitted in the Aug. 4 Gazette, I would like to make comments regarding the proposed new hotel at the corner of Harvard and King streets.

The hotel as proposed will remove the current Mellish & Weeks, Naval Reserve Association Building at 1617 and 1711 King Street. The current building was originally built approximately 1928, and by 1930 was established as an apartment building housing tenants. The building is a three-story building, by 1985 the building was renovated to become the Naval Reserve Association.

Since then the building has had several tenants in the ground level of the building. The building still consists of the original bricks and molding for the windows. Harvard Street consists of historical homes of which the Naval Reserve building is only shy by 12 years of being historical. The proposed hotel developers are looking to destroy the building and replace it with a monstrous 6-7 story building that would engulf the entire corner of the block, including the open parking area. The developer was told the height of the original plan was too high, seven stories, so now they are looking to lower it to six stories, but with HVAC equipment and a green roof, this would still have the building consist of seven stories which would make it as big as the Hilton Hotel on the corner of King Street just a few doors down. With 124 hotel rooms, there is some underground parking for guests, no parking allotted for the proposed retail on the ground floor or for the hotel employees. They are also suggesting to make part of Harvard Street a two-way street from King Street to the alley that goes behind the current building.

Harvard is a very narrow street, currently one way with parking on both sides of the street. As it is we have a lot of traffic that travel in the wrong direction along Harvard and Cameron. Cameron is also a one-way street. By opening Harvard, even partially, to two-way traffic will cause a lot of confusion, and take away parking along Harvard.

The suggested construction period for this project would be from 1-1/2 to 2 years. Imagine the problems relating to that along King Street. There are already several hotels within a three block radius of this corner. A hotel of this size would over tower the homes along Harvard and would also be taller than other businesses going into town.

This end of King Street does not have much touristically inviting, accept for the Metro which would take them somewhere else. Our city has become nothing but a tourist attraction which is now becoming just a lot of new large buildings with plaques referring to the history of our city. Instead of calling us Olde Towne, we should consider renaming our city New Town. Between myself and my neighbor, a lot of history has been dug up regarding this building, we need to keep it, maybe refurbish it back into an apartment building, or maybe condos, but certainly not anything higher than four stories, including the HVAC and other equipment that goes on the roof. If our city government is looking for more revenue, I feel the taxes that could be generated by residents of a condo or apartment would be better than having people come and go and not paying taxes. We must not allow another hotel at this end of King Street, nor the removal of another almost historical building.

Bea Porter