The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
‘Boxy’ courthouse to get review
BY ROBYN SIDERSKY
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Fredericksburg’s Architectural Review Board will review exterior changes proposed for the city’s new courthouse at its meeting Monday night.
The city’s historic district ordinance requires that property owners within the district obtain permission from the ARB for any new construction.
The ARB has already signed off on the project, engineered by First Choice Public–Private Partners. But tonight’s public hearing gives board members a chance to discuss some changes that First Choice proposed to address a few ARB concerns.
The ARB isn’t expected to vote on those changes until its July 23 meeting, said city planner Erik Nelson, the liaison between city staff and the ARB.
The project’s estimated cost is $35.4 million, including the $32 million contract with First Choice, which the City Council signed last fall.
Still, some members of the council and the ARB have debated whether the project is too large for its location at Princess Anne and Charlotte streets and whether its look is too “boxy.”
Council members agreed at a work session on June 19 to keep the new courthouse at three stories. But they referred other suggestions for its exterior back to the ARB.
Among those issues:
In response to the complaint that the new courthouse would look too “boxy,” First Choice has suggested breaking up the solid brick façade along Princess Anne Street with indentations.
After ARB members pointed out that the courthouse didn’t have a flagpole, the architects are suggesting either affixing one to the building’s exterior or displaying flags inside the main entry.
This is a trickier issue to address, Nelson said, because the building goes right up to the sidewalk on the site.
The ARB will also look over the lettering proposed for the outside of the building, identifying it as the city courthouse.
The exact wording has not been determined yet, Nelson said. That’s for the city’s Memorial Commission to decide. Nelson said the lettering will be on the flat panel above the columns at the front entry.
In previous meetings, the board has also expressed concerns about the materials to be used on the courthouse.
For example, the board questioned why the builder is planning to use fake limestone and not local stone for the foundation of the building. It also asked about roofing materials.
Both of these issues will be discussed at Monday’s meeting.
“They will focus in on all of the final details for approval windows, doors, lighting, trim details, those kinds of things,” Nelson said.
In the last work session held by the City Council, the project’s architect, Andrew Moore, said that the team recommends the proposed changes instead of the initial design that was presented.
Moore is the director of urban architecture for project architect Glavé & Holmes.
The City Council has scheduled another work session to discuss the new courthouse for 5:30 p.m. on July 17 in Room 218 of City Hall.
WANT TO GO?
The Architectural Review Board meets at 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 9, in Council Chambers of City Hall, 715 Princess Anne St. The meeting is open to the public.
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413