A D. C. Superior Court judge yesterday issued an order restraining the city from tearing down a group of 19th-Century buildings on the site of the planned convention center.
The Citizens Planning Coalition, a citizen's group that has opposed the convention center all along, asked Judge William E. Stewart Jr. to order the city not to demolish the buildings at 9th St. and New York Ave. NW.
The coalition told Stewart that the city's Joint Committee on Historic Landmarks is scheduled to hold hearings in March to determine if the buildings should be preserved.
Stewart made his temporary restraining order contingent on the coalition's ability to post a $50,000 bond with the court by noon Monday. If the citizens group is unsuccessful in its arguments for a preliminary injunction on Feb. 18, the bond would be turned over to the city to cover possible financial losses suffered during the litigation.
The city had planned to begin Monday to demolish the Mt. Vernon apartments, located at 920-934 9th St., NW, and seven buildings on the south side of the 900 block of New York Ave. All of the buildings were constructed between 1840 and 1860, according to Ann Sellin, chairman of the coalition's committee on historic preservation.
Ron Johnson, attorney for the coalition, argued in court that under D. C. law the district is prohibited from demolishing buildings with possible historic value until the committee on historic landmarks has made a determination.
However, assistant corporation counsel James Murphy contended that the city must begin clearing the convention site immediately to stay within budget and time constraints which he said require that demolition work be completed by April 15.