Foggy Bottom resident Donald Kreuzer, who accuses GW of trespassing by building Ivory Tower on top of his house, pleaded his case in the D.C. Court of Appeals Friday in hopes of having the decision that dismissed his lawsuit in 2004 reversed.
Kreuzer, a doctor who works in the Watergate complex, has accused GW of trespassing by building Ivory Tower over his three townhouses on 23rd Street and Virginia Avenue, using unlawful “blockbusting” tactics to force him out of Foggy Bottom and building a dorm that is a “nuisance” to the community. He wants his case heard by a jury.
The case was dismissed by District Judge James Boasberg in April 2004, and Kreuzer was ordered to pay GW $36,559.72 in legal fees. But Kreuzer filed an appeal asking for Boasberg’s decision to be reviewed. A decision by the appeals court will be announced in April or May of this year, the court clerk said. Kreuzer has been submitting legal complaints against the University since 2003.
Kreuzer has owned his townhouses since 1974, before his block was primarily GW-owned. More than two years ago, as the 729-bed dorm was being built, GW offered to buy Kreuzer’s three townhouses, but he refused the offer, arguing that he was being offered less than market value for his property.
According to a Hatchet article printed in 2003, Kreuzer’s townhouses were worth $366,600, $258,000 and $289,990 at the time, based on data from the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue. University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said in a 2003 interview that at one point, GW had offered about $2 million for the homes, but the same article quoted Krezuer as saying he had never been offered that much.
A handful of Foggy Bottom Association residents attended Friday’s appeals hearing to support Kreuzer.
At Friday’s hearing, Kreuzer’s attorney, J. Michael Hannon, argued that Boasberg had a conflict of interest in hearing the case because he had taught a course at GW the semester before his ruling. Hannon also said Boasberg was incorrect in throwing out the charge about blockbusting, which is when a tax-exempt institution drives community members from their homes intentionally. He also said GW built over Kreuzer’s property out of spite.
GW’s lawyer, Vincent Mark J. Policy, said in court Friday that Boasberg’s ruling against the blockbusting charge should be upheld because the fact that GW is a non-profit institution is irrelevant to Kreuzer’s argument.
Policy said that since Kreuzer does not feel threatened by the students living around him, the University is not liable for blockbusting. He said anyone who built next to Kreuzer’s property, whether they were tax-exempt or not, would have angered Kreuzer.
“He said, ‘I don’t mind the students per se, it’s the volume of people,'” Policy said, referring to a comment made by Kreuzer. “So the student status which was the lynchpin of this was not the problem, it was the volume.” Policy also emphasized that Kreuzer rents one of the townhouses he does not occupy to students.
Hannon said, “As I understand it, GW was saying that if you don’t use students to threaten the neighbors then it’s not blockbusting. I guess then (GW’s) architects, builders and lawyers can do whatever they want.”