A local property owner has donated $16,000 to Charlottesville’s Historic Preservation Fund and issued a public apology Monday morning for illegally destroying a historic storefront façade on the Downtown Mall in 2009.
Joe Gieck, the owner of the building located 219 W. Main St. on the mall, demolished the façade, which dated back to 1947, in October 2009 without the approval of the city’s Board of Architectural Review. The building once housed Victory Shoe Store, and is now home to Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt.
“The Gieck Trust expresses its sincere apologies for the loss of the 1947 façade,” Gieck said in a public statement issued Monday. “These apologies run to the City of Charlottesville, and to its citizens, particularly those in the Charlottesville-Albemarle community who realize that preservation of our historic resources is a worthwhile and laudable endeavor requiring substantial commitment by the private and public sectors working together.”
In exchange for Gieck’s donation and apology, the city dropped a civil suit brought against him. Deputy City Attorney Richard Harris explained that under city code, a person can be fined twice the fair market value of the building if it is demolished without the BAR or the City Council’s approval.
“It’s a massive amount of money,” Harris said. “We came to what both parties felt was a reasonable figure,” he added.
Gieck’s statement said that though the 1947 storefront was damaged beyond repair, he “followed all procedures required by the city and complied with all applicable building regulations to restore the façade to the original 1920s façade.”
The $16,000 donation will reportedly be used to conduct a “much needed” survey of buildings in the downtown area to determine which structures contribute to the city’s historic value.
Gieck did not respond to phone calls for comment on this story.