Historic National Bank Building

Developer Sues City Council Over Proposed Townhomes

by | Dec 8, 2015 | Government

By Susan Larson. Photo of the historic National Bank Building.

The Architectural Review Board approved developer Mike Adams’ plan to build seven, four-story townhouses in the 300 block of George Street, adjacent the historic National Bank Building. But City Council voted 6 – 1 on November 10, 2015, to suspend the Architectural Review Board’s (ARB) approval. Adams’ company, NNB LLC, is suing City Council.

City Council will meet in closed session during its work session on Tuesday, Nov. 24, to discuss the suit.

Just before the November 10 vote, Councilor Matt Kelly (At-Large) said suspension of ARB’s approval was the right thing to do, even if it led to legal ramifications. He noted agreement with John Hennessy, chief historian and chief of interpretation at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, who opposed the project in a letter, saying the intersection of Princess Anne Street and George Street, where the historic National Bank Building is located, is “at the heart of Fredericksburg’s historic identity.”

The Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc. (HFFI) is also against the project. The issue is the project is too large and out of scale for the historic area, opponents said.

“I think the message that we’re sending the community is that we do value our heritage,” said Councilor Kerry Devine (At-Large). “That’s a message I would like to send loud and clear.”

Councilor Brad Ellis (Ward 1) cast the dissenting vote. “We’re telling future investors we have a process in place they have to follow, but hey, it can change,” he said.

City Council wants to discuss the project with Adams during the December 8 City Council meeting.

The National Bank Building is on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis both spoke from the bank building’s steps during the Civil War. Union troops used the building as a headquarters.


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