Your Views: Bigger priorities than a hotel

Your Views: Bigger priorities than a hotel
City Council approved a luxury hotel development at 699 Prince Street. (Photo/Google Street View)

To the editor:

I was struck by your editorial’s spot-on view of the net negatives for our city when the city has to help finance luxury development of prime real estate. The 699 Prince St. project is one great example of giving money to developers who don’t need it.

699 Prince St. is prime real estate. There are lots of quality developers who would gladly take that site and construct a quality building that would be a huge financial and city services payday for them and for the city. As the Times says, there are other higher priorities for our money.

Before approving the gap financing for the hotel on Saturday the city should have asked itself if it needs to pay this much for the luxury of development. Are the developers going to create a quality product? What is the developer’s reputation? Have they been good Alexandria citizens? Do they have other projects from which we can draw confidence or questions or concerns? Do they have the required business licenses to operate in Virginia? Do the individuals leading these firms have good records in Richmond and D.C.? Does the financial math even make sense for anyone other than the developers? Has the new city manager had the time and opportunity to understand this situation?

As so many have said for so long, Alexandria’s reputation is pro-developer and pro-development at any cost. This is a costly example, one a savvy developer determined to optimize and reap value would gladly take without the city’s money.

-John Skibinski, Alexandria