WEB EXTRA: Neighbor’s suit could halt “superdorm” construction

Posted July 18 A Foggy Bottom resident suing GW for allegedly building its newest residence hall partially on his property testified Monday in D.C. Superior Court.

Donald Kreuzer, owner of three townhouses on the corner of 23rd Street and Virginia Avenue, is asking the court to issue a preliminary injunction that would halt construction of the Ivory Towers, a 710-bed facility being built on 23rd Street. He is also seeking $10 million for the loss of property value and the limitations the facility puts on his ability to add on to his townhouses.

Kreuzer, who works as a dentist in the Watergate complex, said University architects approached him with an initial design of the residence hall in 2001 to receive feedback, but he said they failed to accommodate most of his concerns.

He also said the University failed to discuss the specific part of the residence hall that would hang over the wall that separates the structure and his northernmost townhouse.

“I can’t imagine that wall is on GW’s property,” he testified.

Surveyor Ken West, testifying on behalf of Kreuzer, said in court last week that GW has already constructed the facility’s skeleton in a way that will eventually lead to an encroachment on Kreuzer’s property.

GW Associate Counsel Linda Schutjer, who represented the University in court, said because Kreuzer’s wall is “almost 100 percent” on GW’s side of the property line, the residence hall is allowed to partially extend over Kreuzer’s townhouses.

“Nothing we’re doing is impacting upon his house,” she said in a phone interview Thursday.

Judge James E. Boasberg will make a decision on the preliminary injunction August 8, Schutjer said.

In May, Boasberg declined to issue a Kreuzer-requested order stopping construction of the residence hall. The facility, which will include a dining hall, is scheduled to be completed next summer for the 2004-05 school year.

Schutjer said Boasberg’s previous decision not to issue a temporary restraining order is an indication that he will not grant Kreuzer the preliminary injunction.

“It’s almost unheard of when you win a temporary restraining order to lose a preliminary injunction hearing,” she said. “(Kreuzer) doesn’t have a case on that particular issue, or any issue for that matter.”

After the judge makes a decision on the injunction, a hearing for the remaining parts of the lawsuit would take place sometime in the fall, Schutjer said.

If construction on the Ivory Towers is stopped, even temporarily, it would be detrimental for GW because the University urgently needs additional on-campus housing to meet city-mandated housing requirements and growing student population.

Schutjer said while University officials have not drawn up contingency plans if an injunction is granted, GW has a year to find additional housing for students scheduled to live in the Ivory Towers.

“We would have some wiggle room…some time to figure this out,” she said.

Kreuzer is also suing on several other grounds, claiming that University officials were “sneaky” and “underhanded” in their attempts to buy Kreuzer’s townhouses and that they defamed him in the press. University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg has been quoted as saying Kreuzer is “inhaling” among other things in articles about the lawsuit.

Schutjer said GW officials offered to buy Kreuzer’s property at market value several years ago, and disavows Kreuzer’s claims that GW acted disingenuously towards him.

Kreuzer has disputes that University officials offered a proper amount of money for his properties

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