Leesburg Approves Demolition of Historic Lee School Buildings

In a recent session, Leesburg Historic Preservation Board has voted to approve the demolition of the deteriorating Lee School buildings, paving the way for new development on the site. This decision comes after extensive deliberation on the condition and future of the 5-acre property, now owned by Prospera Living LLC. The agreement includes conditions to preserve the Cornerstone and plaques, conserve materials for future use, and update the existing Planned Unit Development (PUD).

The central focus of the Leesburg Historic Preservation Board meeting was the fate of the Lee School buildings. The site’s history was outlined by the city planning department, noting its previous role as an educational facility. The buildings, currently owned by Prospera Living LLC, were described as being in a state of decline, with issues such as vandalism, homelessness, and illegal activities cited as contributing factors. The city commission had previously agreed that the structures should be demolished to address the ongoing blight and make way for new opportunities.

Amid the discussion, there was a notable emphasis on the need for a swift and unconditional demolition to expedite the development process. This urgency was echoed by Mike Ranken, the managing member and owner of LPG, who stressed the importance of quick action to attract bank involvement in the project.

The board engaged in a debate over who should bear the cost of demolition and the responsibility for the buildings’ poor condition. Additional context was provided during the meeting, with arguments for a “no strings attached” demolition order to facilitate development.

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Further, the board considered various conditions for the demolition, including the preservation of historically significant elements such as the Cornerstone and playground plaques. The discussion also touched on the potential reuse or redistribution of salvageable materials like bricks, a point of interest for both historical preservation and environmental considerations.

The conditions laid out for the demolition were comprehensive. The board mandated the preservation of historical artifacts, the conservation of materials, and the update of the PUD. This set of requirements aims to balance the historical significance of the site with the practicalities of its redevelopment. By setting these terms, the board effectively ensured that while the buildings themselves would be removed, the legacy and some physical aspects would remain.

In addition to the demolition, the board deliberated on the introduction of an award for the renovation of historic properties. This potential award aims to recognize and incentivize the restoration and preservation of historic sites within and beyond the historic district.

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The decision to approve the demolition marks the end of the board’s involvement in the future of the Lee School site, with the unanimous vote indicating a clear direction for the property’s redevelopment. The agreed-upon conditions reflect a compromise that acknowledges the need for progress while respecting the site’s historical value.

The meeting also briefly covered internal matters, such as the absence of board members and the challenge of appointing alternates.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Mayor:
Jimmy Burry
Historic Preservation Commission Officials:

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