Developer Charles Fairchild Sr. angrily told the Alexandria City Council yesterday that he will begin construction on his long-delayed Potomac Center high-rise complex along the edge of the George Washington Memorial Parkway within the next 10 weeks.
Fairchild made his vow in a bitter exchange with members of the council, who moments later voted 6 to 1 to urge the National Park Service to deny him an access road to the parkway. Nicholas A. Colasanto was the only council member who voted against the resolution.
"It is business, business we are talking about," Fairchild told the council in a shaking voice. "This decision will affect Alexandria more than any other. Potomac Center will bring in $13.5 million in taxes for the city. That ground will be developed one way or the other," Fairchild said, emphasizing each word as the visibly upset members of the council listened.
Council member Robert L. Calhoun asked Fairchild, who has held a lease on 30 acres owned by the Richmond Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad Co. for nearly a decade, whether he actually and finally intended to build on the property. Fairchild said that he did, and that the development would begin in "about two months."
Outside the council chambers Fairchild said his first building, a 12-story office tower, would begin in 10 weeks, with occupancy expected in about 2 1/2 years.The land is located south of National Airport.
Also planned for the complex are a convention center, a shopping mall and residential development, Fairchild said. He told the council that although he actually did not need an access road leading to the parkway, he opposed the resolution because "it muddies the water. That is the name of the [council's] game -- delay, delay, delay," he claimed.
There is access to the parkway from Fairchild's property through Slater's Lane.
The developer told the council that under an agreement signed more than a decade ago, the Interior eDpartment granted him the right to an access road from the parkway and that the council previously had ratified that plan.
City Attorney Cyril D. Calley told council members that actions by previous councils were not binding on them.
The Fairchild development was supported by Charles M. Johnson of RF&P Railroad Co., and opposed by several citizens. One of them, Daniel J. Yurman, called the recent cutting of the trees that shield the parkway on Fairchild's land "an act of antisocial behavior."
In other action yesterday, the council passed a measure making it illegal for a massage parlor owner to sell his special use permit to another person or corporation.The permits are needed to operate a massage parlor or health club in the city. The action was designed to control the city's massage parlors, where prostitution allegedly has taken place in the past.