Historic District Board Approves Old School Requests

Cape Charles Wave

August 27, 2013

Petersburg developer J. David McCormack appeared again August 20 before the Historic District Review Board, and this time the Board approved five requests that they had deferred at their June meeting.

Last December the Town of Cape Charles gave McCormack the Old School, basketball court, and playground parking lot at Central Park plus $41,000 to pay utility connection fees. McCormack has applied for federal and state tax credits totaling 45 percent of his costs to convert the property into a 17-unit apartment building.

In order to receive the tax credits, however, the developer’s plans must be approved by both the National Park Service and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. And under Town code, any significant alterations to the property must be approved by the Historic District Review Board.

 “I do not believe that a Certificate of Appropriateness should be provided to the developer.” 
– Chairman David Gay

McCormack requested permission to clean exterior walls and repair mortar and masonry; replace a rubber membrane roof with a PVC roof; restore historic windows and replace aluminum frame windows; replicate historic front doors, restore and replicate transoms; insert compatible new doors where historic doors are undocumented; and install two canopies on fire escapes. The Board approved all the requests.

However, the developer still needs to receive a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Board, and Chairman David Gay said it is unclear to him how the Board will proceed, because questions remain about the site plans and parking for the apartment building. “I do not believe that a Certificate of Appropriateness should be provided to the developer,” Gay said.

A major issue is the location of a proposed parking lot. The Town’s Historic District Guidelines do not allow a parking lot in front of a building in a residential area. McCormack plans to build a parking lot in front of the main entrance to the Old School, which until recently contained an ellipse with a flagpole in the center.


McCormack maintains that the front of the building, known as 23 Park Row, is no longer the front. Instead, the building now is described as 423 Plum Street, although there is no entrance to the building on Plum Street.

As recently as January 2012, an application by the Town described the Old School as located at 23 Park Row.

McCormack was adamant that the area in front of 23 Park Row be used for private parking by residents. Chairman Gay suggested that the basketball court side of the building could provide sufficient parking, but McCormack disagreed. Town code requires one parking space per bedroom, and Board members assumed a total of 17 bedrooms. But McCormack said there would be more than 17 bedrooms – how many more, he could not say.

McCormack asked the Board to conditionally approve his application with a requirement regarding the parking lot configuration. However, the Board took no action other than to approve the above-cited renovation requests.



3 Responses to “Historic District Board Approves Old School Requests”

  1. Theodore Warner on August 27th, 2013 9:37 am

    It was regrettable that I was not able to attend this meeting. As a member of the Historic District Review Board, I feel that the items we were asked to approve should have been approved. But I also feel that there are elements of the Old School plans that would not pass the muster of the HDRB. The question for me is: why isn’t every aspect of the Old School’s new design being placed before the HDRB?

  2. Wayne Creed on August 29th, 2013 10:39 am

    The reason not all elements of the Old School project are under HDRB purview is because this is not so much a project, but by its very nature (or nature of the crooked $10 deal), has transcended life and become a metaphor for the mendacious narrative and corruption that define the Mayor, Mr.Panek, and 5/6 of Town Council. Not content to treat the truth as a mobile army of metaphor, they also insist upon re-establishing the laws of physics. The illegal Conditional Use Permit, championed by Tom Bonadeo and Joan Natali, proffered that the Old School, despite numerous historic maps, harbor plans, and comprehensive plans, as well as continuous proximity to years of football games and class recesses, was never in the Park (School Park). More, the front of the building, 23 Park Row, in a mind-bending twist that would make even Phillip K. Dick nauseous, has now been shifted to Plum Street. Yes, that is correct, the part of the building with the entrance is now the side, and the part with only bricks, mortar, and windows is now the front. How is that possible, you ask? Sorry, but not even Schrödinger’s equation could possibly account for this distortion. Where partial differential equations come up short, we may only need to revisit Psalms 120:2 for our answer: “Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.”, Or to quote Josh Billings, “There are some people so addicted to exaggeration that they can’t tell the truth without lying.”

  3. Deborah Bender on August 29th, 2013 3:05 pm

    According to the U.S. Postal Service the address of the school is still 23 Park Row. According to McCormack, the front is the side, the side is the back, up is down and down is up. Isn’t it odd that someone (Mr. Bonadeo no doubt) changed the address? The reason for the address change was to give away a street! A dirty, colluded deal indeed.