WASHINGTON — A tug-of-war that’s been going on for years between Alexandria, Va., and a boat club appears to be over, and the result will be a new waterfront park in the city.
The Old Dominion Boat Club in Alexandria has a clubhouse and parking lot right in the heart of Old Town, where King Street meets the Potomac River.
The city wants to make it a public space, and has been threatening to use eminent domain to seize the property, but now a compromise has been reached.
The club’s members have agreed to sell the clubhouse and parking lot to the city for $5 million, and move to a new location on the river at Prince Street.
There, the club would be able to build a new clubhouse, as well as a boat ramp, piers and slips.
It was one of two offers the city made.
Under the other option, the club would have been able to keep its current clubhouse, and would have received $2.5 million to give up its parking lot.
“There were some good parts to both; there were some parts that … didn’t make everybody happy in both. But at the end of the day, the membership decided that the move option made the most sense for the club,” says Richard Banchoff, club president.
He says about half of the boat club’s membership voted, and 66 percent of the voters favored moving.
“It’s not a deal we would have done if we didn’t have to,” Banchoff says.
The city wants to turn the prime waterfront location into a public plaza it hopes will become a new center of excitement.
Alexandria’s Waterfront Plan calls for the property to be named Fitzgerald Square.
“There still has to be a formal, legally enforceable contract that has to be developed, and that will take place over the next few weeks probably. But the first step would be the city approving it at their meeting [Tuesday] evening,” Banchoff says.
As of Monday night, the issue was not listed on the meeting’s agenda.
Banchoff thinks the club, Virginia’s oldest boating club, could be ready to move in three years.
“It’s 134 years that we’ve been around, so we’re an integral part of the history of Alexandria, and we hope to be still part of it 134 years from now,” Banchoff says.
Below is a map with the location of the boat club: