City sells $5.3 million worth of Old Town public property

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A view of 916 King St., one of the properties city council last week authorized to sell for $5.3 million to Galena Capital Partners. (Photo/Missy Schrott)
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By Arya Hodjat | ahodjat@alextimes.com

Council voted to sell four plots of city property to a private investment firm for $5.3 million at its July 9 public hearing.

The properties, located at 912, 916, 920 King Street and 116 South Henry Street, were formerly city-owned parking lots.

The city put out a request for proposal to sell the properties in spring 2017. The new owner is Galena Capital Partners, a private investment firm.

Galena plans to further develop the King Street location, which is currently the parking lot adjacent to Bloomer’s, into a mixed-use building, according to city documents. Galena plans to maintain the parking lot on South Henry Street.

Council voted 5-2 to approve the sale, with councilors Amy Jackson and Mo Seifeldein dissenting.

“Council has a duty to protect the public interest in getting as much money as possible if we choose to do it,” Seifeldein said. “But, as a general principle, I do not approve of selling public property in Alexandria at all.”

The property had been declared as surplus years ago, Mayor Justin Wilson said.

“If the pure interest is to maximize the amount of money the project receives … yes, we’d drop this project,” Wilson said. “But making sure the parking was replaced was a limiting factor in selling this property.”

Jackson called the project “phenomenal,” but stressed the importance of maintaining city property.

“We sell this land, they make something that they turn around and can sell for $30 million, when we’ve gotten $5 million for it,” Jackson said. “I’d like to hold on to this piece of land, and hold on to it and try to develop it in another way.”

Councilor John Chapman voted for the sale, saying he supports the city’s economic policy in the context of selling the land, but would like to see a more coherent strategy rather than what he called “one-off projects.”

“While we have seen changes in the economy. … I think our policy changes are still in the better benefit of the city, and our residents,” Chapman said.

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