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'Little Washington' meeting to discuss developer's plans

Thursday - 6/19/2014, 6:03am  ET

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Main Street pictured in Washington, Virginia. Developer Jim Abdo has bought up several buildings here. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
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WASHINGTON, Va. -- Things may come to a head Thursday evening in the quiet, little town of Washington, Virginia, a 90-minute drive west of the other Washington.

D.C.-based developer Jim Abdo, who has been buying up property on Main Street much to the worry of some of the town's 135 residents, is expected to speak at a citizens forum sponsored by the Rapahannock News.

Abdo has bought several buildings on the town's main street and raised a furor when he recently told The Washington Post the quaint town is "hollow," "vacant" and "empty," and that it had "no pulse."

Mayor John Sullivan, who will also speak at the forum, scheduled for 5 p.m. at the town's theater, hopes the session soothes citizens' concerns.

"[Abdo] used words that have gotten people upset," Sullivan says. "I think [Abdo], perhaps, appreciates that he got overly enthusiastic with the Post."

Citizens are hoping that Abdo lays out his plans for the buildings that he and his business partners have bought on Main Street.

"I'm not sure what's going on," says Doris Critzer, one of the residents of Washington. "I love this town and it has improved a lot and I don't have anything against that, definitely, but I'm not sure about this new guy."

The mayor is offering assurances that all of Abdo's projects must pass muster with zoning ordinances.

"Everything that [Abdo] does has got to be gone through town ordinances," Mayor Sullivan says. "The town has plenty of opportunity to figure out, item by item, what they want to do."

The mayor says the town needs to grow, at least a little. And he approves of what Abdo has already done -- renovating an old bed and breakfast into the White Moose Inn, a handsome, white, two-story structure graced by four rectangular columns fronting Main Street.

In another building purchased by Abdo, some residents seem eager to welcome a popular bakery expected to set up shop -- the Red Truck Bakery, from Warrenton.

The town, called Little Washington, is also home to the well-known restaurant the Inn at Little Washington.

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