Unrenewed and unfinished
But while the big projects are inching toward resolution, the unrenewed, unfinished and in some cases un-cared-for corners of Washington will continue to exert political and administrative demands on the town and its residents, as well as on the county, which owns a number of the buildings now stranded in limbo. Washington Treasurer Gail Swift said she worries that Town Clerk Barbara Batson and others involved in clearances, zoning procedures and legal details “will be so busy they can’t see straight” as the various building dilemmas are sorted out.
Here are 10 structures — owned by the county, private individuals or businesses — where the future is unclear. Many enjoyed a storied past, or at least a steady stream of tenants, along with a kaleidoscope of functions reflecting the diverse interests in the county. But the future seems to elude these buildings, each of which is awaiting a compelling idea and a convinced investor. All might plant a sign in front posing the question: “Now what?”
The county jail: The historic lockup has been without prisoners since 2014, replaced by the regional facility north of Front Royal. Completed in 1836, the building now houses equipment and surplus furniture, and is awaiting a new idea and a new function.
The community theater: Erected in 1890, and now a county property, the space is also in line for a new vision, following earlier lives as a Methodist church, the Washington Town Hall, the Washington Fire Department, Ladies Auxiliary Thrift Store, the Ki Theatre and the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and Community (RAAC) Community Theatre. Expenditures to bring the structure up to code as a theater are exorbitant, and RAAC is now using the larger, newer theater across the street. After staging locally acclaimed productions including “Uncle Vanya” and “Waiting for Godot,” and multiple renditions of “No Ordinary Person,” the older building’s next act will be less dramatic: In its first meeting of the new year, the Board of Supervisors agreed to restore the building for use as “a flexible office space” for county employees while a new courthouse is under construction. Once the new courthouse structure is in place, the county employees will presumably vacate the former theater, setting the stage for another re-think.
The county library: The beloved structure might expand and renovate at its current location on U.S. Route 211, though the topography of its site presents complications. Or it might move to Rush River Commons in the town center, though opponents of this idea threaten a fight. If the books move elsewhere, decision-makers would face the new dilemma of finding a new purpose for the existing structure.
The Packing Shed: Deteriorating at the corner of Porter and Gay streets, the structure is owned by Jeff Akseizer, an associate of resident investordeveloper Jim Abdo. Built in