Future of National Bank Building May Head to Trial
The future of the historic National Bank Building property in downtown Fredericksburg is still on hold.
Fredericksburg Circuit Judge Herbert Hewitt on March 28, 2016, declined to dismiss three lawsuits over the property, and he gave the plaintiffs in each case 21 days to file responsive pleadings.
NBB, a division of Local Developer Mike Adams’ JON Properties, purchased the National Bank Building at 900 Princess Anne St. and the adjacent property on George St. for $1.6 million on August 24, 2015.
The Architectural Review Board approved his plan to build seven, four-story townhouses in the 300 block of George Street, behind the bank building. But City Council voted 6 – 1 on November 10, 2015, to suspend the Architectural Review Board’s (ARB) approval.
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.”
“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.
Adams’ company, NNB LLC, sued City Council on November 17, seeking to void their action.
City Council then filed a lawsuit against NBB, asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit.
City Council also filed a lawsuit against the ARB, claiming citizens were not properly notified of the public hearing.
Judge Hewitt heard the cases on March 7, 2016. In his ruling Monday he said, “the cases [should be] heard on their merits.”
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