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Loudoun Board is about to sell Aldie Assemblage to the Piedmont Environmental Council

County regulators have tentatively agreed to sell the Aldie Assemblage after years of trying and several abandoned deals.

It is the third attempt to sell the property after Aldie residents evicted the county authority from plans to build a new fire station on the property with continued protest. Supervisors later backed out of a tentative agreement to trade the land for a property near St. Louis that had been proposed for another unpopular development, and then another tentative agreement to give it to the Aldie resident and Aldie Heritage Association member Guy Gerachis for sale.

Both potential buyers had proposed renovations to the property. Gerachis’ offer had found support in the village, but he said during the negotiations the district did not react and tried to impose unreasonable conditions on the deadlines in the sales contract.

But pending a final review of a purchase agreement by attorneys, regulators last week voted to sell the property to the Piedmont Environmental Council for $600,000, in another proposal garnering broad support from other conservation groups.

Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian) asked during a September 14 public hearing whether additional schedule terms could be included in the purchase agreement; Senior Assistant District Attorney Courtney Sydnor said the property sale was impractical.

But the Piedmont Environment Council has come up with a proposal to revitalize the property, which has long been unused and has deteriorated over the years it has been owned by the county. The council has proposed the renovation of the older buildings on the property, removing a defunct garage, barn and underground pools. The tavern building would be explored for commercial or public use, possibly also as office and meeting space for the PEC and the community; if the tavern is unsuitable for this, it can be restored for residential purposes. The PEC would also work to have the restored tavern listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.

A tentative budget for the restoration of the inn building ranges from approximately $750,000 (residential) to $1.5 million (commercial/public use). This budget does not include additional costs related to site works, ensuring potable water, removal of swimming pool and non-contributing garage, restoration of the property’s garden and any county permit requirements.

The council also plans to open a portion of the property to the public as a green space with access for fishing and possibly kayaking or canoeing on the Little River. All of this work, conservation director Michael Kane wrote to the county, was being done with the preservation of the village in mind.

“Aldie is a key entry point into Loudoun County’s nationally recognized historic and scenic rural landscape,” he wrote. “Any proposed renovation and productive reuse of the Tavern building and/or other structures on the property will be designed at a size, scale and intensity of use consistent with the character and structure of Aldie.”

“Our endeavor to acquire the Aldie Assemblage is a response to public concerns about the sensitive location and potential future use of the property,” said Gem Bingol, field officer for the Piedmont Environmental Council, during the public hearing. Representatives from the Virginia Piedmont Heritage Area, the Loudoun Historic Village Alliance and the Aldie Heritage Association welcomed the council’s proposal.

“This proposal is consistent with what the community has been saying,” said Katie Johnson, President of the Aldie Heritage Association. “I’m happy to tell you this because I and a few other members of the AHA board have been knocking on doors throughout the village. We walked around, we talked to people, we asked what they wanted to see – that aligns with what they wanted to see.”

The PEC has been involved in many environmental and conservation projects in Loudoun, including acquiring 239 hectares in nearby Gilberts Corner and working with NOVA Parks to create the 150-acre Gilberts Corner Regional Park. They are also working on plans to refurbish the Gilberts Corner Farmers’ Market building, which they acquired in 2019, Bingol said.

However, some bosses opposed the sale of the property to the PEC, which was not the winning bidder for the property — that came from Aldie residents Adam and Laura McBride bidding $700,000 along with a detailed proposal for the congregation’s restoration and preservation .

“For me, this should also be the first proposal that we look closely at, and I did that as I went through this process and I was impressed with this proposal,” said Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles). “I saw no reason why they should be disqualified as the highest bidder in favor of a lower bidder – it doesn’t matter who the lower bidder was.”

“We have been talking about this property for a very long time. When we originally made the final offer, I went with public opinion, with the Lord [Gerachis], and unfortunately this deal has been blown up on us. When we received these two bids, this time I went for the highest bid,” said Vice Chairman Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling).

However, the majority voted to direct district staff to return a completed contract with the PEC to the district board for final approval. District Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) pointed out that the PEC has been involved in the Aldie Assemblage discussion for years.

“We’ve been having this discussion for, I mean literally over 10 years. I see no reason why PEC would even apply if they didn’t have the capacity to do what they promise,” she said.

“I think that after all the work that we as a board have put into this, it would be almost irresponsible not to take this opportunity to place our trust in the PEC, which clearly has a lot of public trust in this area in particular.” deserved,” said District Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge).

Bosses voted 7-0-2, with Saines and Letourneau opposed to bringing a purchase agreement back for final approval at a future board meeting.

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