The Washington Post

Alexandria-boat club compromise may be near as city offers up to $5 million for land, building

Fifth-three slips are maintained at the Old Dominion Boat Club marina in Alexandria, Va. The city is offering to pay the club either $2.5 million to give up its half-acre parking lot in the heart of Old Town or $5 million for the lot as well as the 80-year-old clubhouse. (Jared Soares/For The Washington Post)

A decades-long dispute between the city of Alexandria and the Old Dominion Boat Club moved one step closer to a resolution Friday with the city’s offer to pay the club either $2.5 million to give up its half-acre parking lot in the heart of Old Town or $5 million for the lot as well as the 80-year-old clubhouse.

The proposals, which come after 90 days of intensive negotiations, would avert a move by the city to seize the property through eminent domain, which officials threatened to do in the fall whendetails of the simmering disagreement became public. Even after months of talking, a mediator was called in near the end of the talks.

Alexandria wants to get rid of what it considers an unsightly parking lot in the epicenter of its tourist district and replace it with a park and public plaza, part of a wholesale redesign of its waterfront. Boat club members say that they own the property and need the lot and its boat ramp so they can use the Potomac River and the clubhouse.

The club’s members, who number about 800, will have a chance to vote on the proposals next weekend, President Richard Banchoff said.

“They both have good points, and they both have points that aren’t going to please everybody,” Banchoff said. “The third option is not to accept either one. Then the city would have to decide what it’s going to do.”

If club members reject both options, Alexandria city officials said they will start eminent domain proceedings. A city spokesman called them “the most detailed and formal proposal by far” of what Alexandria has offered to the club in the past several years.

The city has posted its rationale for the offers on its Web site.

The first option would allow the club to stay in its building, which is located near the Torpedo Factory. In exchange for giving up the 53-space parking lot, the club would get parking spaces in a nearby city-owned garage as well as better boat slips and the $2.5 million.

The second option would allow the club to build a new clubhouse along the Potomac and a few hundred feet to the south in the former Beachcombers building, with better views and a large rooftop patio. In addition to $5 million, the club would get 45 surface parking spaces and a new boat ramp, piers and slips.

The money, the city said, represents the negotiated value of the property minus the value of the property being given up.

Patricia Sullivan covers government, politics and other regional issues in Arlington County and Alexandria. She worked in Illinois, Florida, Montana and California before joining the Post in November 2001.

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