Not everyone in Old Town approves of the new Indigo Hotel at 220 S. Union Street. We think, however, most will at least give a nod to its embellishments.
On the heels of installing “Potomac Harvest,” a sculpture by Chris Erney, the hotel has now put up a stunning panel in the lobby.
Inquiring about the details of its design, we were informed the letter F and numbering could relate to the wooden ribs of the ship. We even learned a new word - "futtocks."
Of course, not everyone is happy down by the waterfront. As part of our wanderings, we are hearing grumblings about the desire to get the archaeology work done faster so the construction at Robinson Landing, the hotel's soon-to-be, next door neighbor can begin.
Let me tell you. We are very lucky here in Alexandria to have an archaeology program that became the first in the nation with an archaeology division and a full-time archaeologist, a program that has been called a model for the nation.
The investigations do take time, but by doing them the right way, they yield discoveries such as the hull of the 18th-century ship depicted on the panel in the lobby of the hotel. In turn, companies like Indigo can parlay these news-making events into marketing gold.
Most, if not all, real estate companies work well with Alexandria to produce this win-win situation. But it was not always so.
In 1989, the City Council approved an ordinance that required developers to pay for archaeological studies. Pam Cressey, the city’s head archaeologist pointed out the purpose of the proposal was “not to be adversarial with developers, but instead to create a partnership with them to preserve what is historically important and to bring it to life for the community to enjoy.”
In The Washington Post article (“Alexandria Encounters Resistance,” Matt Lait, September 16, 1989), industry spokespersons were quoted as being against the ordinance. One said, “We don’t like it because it will cause delays and makes us miss deadlines.”
Another one took the higher road and said, “It’s nice to recognize and preserve these sites. It’s part of doing business in Alexandria.”