Landmark Alexandria buildings falling apart

Several of Alexandria’s landmark and historic public buildings are falling apart, and fixing them will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a new city report.

Of the 36 city-owned facilities assessed in fiscal 2015 by the Department of General Services, eight received an “F” grade under the city’s Facility Condition Index, or FCI. They include historic City Hall, Gadsby’s Tavern and Gadby’s Museum, and the American Legion building at 400 Cameron St. Failing grades also went to the Duke Street fuel island, the old DASH building, the Flora Casey Health Center and the city’s health department.

At City Hall, 301 King St., originally built in 1871 — several additions later followed — the 143-year-old solid brick wall is nearly 75 years beyond its life expectancy, according to a staff report. The 70-year-old, Kewanee Type C gas-fired boiler should have been replaced 40 years ago. The 56-year-old steel window frames are 26 years too old. And the building’s “structural capacity,” per staff, is “failing throughout.”

Former Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille caused a stir during last year’s Democratic primary season — a campaign he lost to new Mayor Allison Silberberg — for publicly speculating on various options to finance renovations to City Hall, including, potentially, selling it or partnering with the private sector. Euille later said he would not sell the building.

According to the staff report, Alexandria has committed $56 million over the next 10 years to fixing the facilities assessed in fiscal 2015, including $30 million for City Hall. But that figure will still leave those public facilities with an “F.”

To bring these buildings up to a “C” level, the City Council would need to invest an additional $101 million over 10 years, staff found. For an “A,” $216 million is needed.

Alexandria owns roughly 125 facilities, with an average age of 57 years. Seven are older than 100, and five are older than 200 years. The average age of the 36 facilities assessed last fiscal year was 72.

Seven city-owned buildings received a “D,” including the Alexandria courthouse, the Black History Resource Center, the archives and records center, the city’s pistol range and the Alexandria Community Shelter-Substance Abuse Facility.

The Torpedo Factory received a “C,” as did the Barrett Library, Market Square parking garage, public safety center, Fort Ward Museum, Lloyd House and Apothecary Museum.

In 2016, the city will assess nine more facilities, eight of which are fire stations.

Read the full story from the Washington Business Journal.

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