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Group proposes new cultural center at Beach

Ruediger Lentz, Executive Director of the German-American Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., is heading up a proposal to purchase and renovate the old police station on North Irving Avenue to open a cultural center in Colonial Beach.
The group wants to cash in on the natural beauty of Colonial Beach; its central location to D.C., Richmond and Fredericksburg; and its boating and art community to help attract artists, designers, writers and intellectuals who they believe could make it an attractive focal point for the arts and culture.


They are convinced that many national and international artists can be lured to Colonial Beach, attracted and inspired by the town’s tranquility and the inspirational power of what they call a diamond in the rough.

The group is proposing an ambitious project. They intend to keep the old antique holding cells and believe they could transform the building into an attractive arts and culture center.

First, the group says, the building needs a total overhaul to create open spaces and living areas. To do this the group plans to remodel the ground floor into a large studio and create a studio apartment in the rear area for resident artists or writers.

The second floor would be solely dedicated to accommodate the office and living needs of the cultural center managers and a small studio apartment with two guest rooms for national and international visitors.

The group would also like to create an open terrace on the rooftop, if structurally possible, overlooking the river for promotional and marketing events.

The group is asking to purchase the building at what they call a reasonable price of $17,500 and expects the town to wave its property taxes for at least five years, as well as help the consortium in attaining any county or state cultural funds applicable for the project.

The building was recently appraised at a value of $230,000 in February 2013.

Councilman Tim Curtin responded to questions regarding the proposal in an email to The Journal.
Curtin said the group has made a written offer far below the appraisal the town provided recently.
Curtin feels that waving the property taxes is a good step in providing business incentives and that supporting the cultural center will go a long way toward letting other investors know that Colonial Beach is now committed to being business and investor-friendly.

“I want to be sure whatever we do in that area is what we are prepared to do for other future investors,” Curtin added.

Curtin wrote in his email: “I can see a need to make significant repairs, upgrades and improvements to the building no matter what the proposed use, regardless of the sales price. That is a good reason for offering the incentives as a way to help them recoup their investment.”

Curtin also said, “Tax breaks and incentives have become rather common ways for localities to attract investment in other places, particularly in pre-existing structures and ones of an historical nature.”

Linda Farneth

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