The waning and dilapidated historic townhouse at 20 W. Fourth St. is closer than ever to rehabilitation.
The Frederick Board of Aldermen are set to approve a contract of sale for the property to Murphy Properties, a company that renovates, sells and leases primarily historic, residential properties in downtown Frederick and Frederick County.
Susan Murphy, a representative of Murphy Properties, received the go-ahead from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission in February to begin rehabilitation work at the property. She offered $20,000 to buy the property and plans to invest $193,000 for a nine-month renovation.
Richard Griffin, the city’s director of economic development, said the work includes demolition of the rear of the property, which is damaged beyond repair, and plans to build a new addition. Decades of vacancy also require the installation of basic utilities such as plumbing, electricity, and heating and cooling.
For anyone following the saga of the property, the renovation work has been a long time coming.
Former property owner Allan Pickett has been fighting the city taking ownership of the property for roughly two decades. That fight finally ended in March when the court of special appeals issued an opinion that put to rest Pickett’s latest appeal regarding the property.
The mayor and board held a workshop about the property in September and agreed that prompt rehabilitation and occupancy of the property was critical.
According to city documents, at the time of the workshop, the aldermen did not have a consensus on a contract mechanism for performance. Some preferred a “claw-back” provision in the contract for non-performance and others preferred a financial performance incentive through purchase price rebate. Thus, the proposed contract is silent on the issue of penalties or financial incentives. It relies on the strong track record of the purchaser, the proposed time-frame for performance and existing code enforcement tools to ensure compliance.
Aldermen are set to vote on the contract Thursday. Griffin said work will continue soon after and take roughly nine months.
Parking fund talks
roofs at city garages
The Board of Aldermen is powering through the fiscal 2018 budget process with just a few more department financials to discuss.
Aldermen on Wednesday discussed funding for city parking, the Weinberg Center for the Arts, the Frederick Municipal Airport, and the Department of Economic Development.
In fiscal 2017, the aldermen voted to increase public parking rates and fees. Parking Superintendent Steve Johnson said fines and fees are set to remain steady in fiscal 2018.
Johnson also told the aldermen Wednesday that he hopes to soon add Parkmobile capabilities in the city’s five garages. The parking machines were upgraded in 2017, which Johnson said helped save supply costs. Parkmobile would be the next step in a full upgrade.
Johnson said he also wants parkers to eventually be able to schedule parking for special events beforehand in the garages as well.
Johnson also wants to look into what it would take to construct roofs on the garages. While he framed the idea as more of a pipe dream than an actual ask, he said he has wondered for years why garages do not have roofs.
“The garage roof thing is something that has been a pet peeve of mine since I started here,” Johnson said Wednesday.”I don’t understand why we don’t put roofs on garages.”
He said the addition would protect vehicles from the elements on all levels of the garage and likely create a more attractive place for parkers when it is cold or warm out. Currently, he said people avoid parking on the top floors of the garages because of exposure to sun, rain, snow and other weather elements. Johnson added that installing roofs would save on snow removal costs, as maintenance staff members would not need to clear the top floor of the garages because they would be protected.
The next budget hearing is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday. The aldermen will discuss the planning, engineering and parks and recreation departments.
Election filing deadline looming closer
Wednesday will mark exactly two months until the filing period closes for the 2017 city electron.
So far, it looks like a pretty left-leaning election, with only Democrats filing as of Friday.
Although Republican Mayor Randy McClement has said he plans to run he has yet to officially file. He has said he is waiting until the budget process is through, which is another few weeks away.
The two mayoral candidates who have filed, who will battle it out on the Democratic ticket in the Sept. 12 primary, are Alderman Michael O’Connor and former mayor Jennifer Dougherty.
A total of six aldermanic candidates have filed, which warrants a Democratic primary for the five open seats.
The candidates as of Friday are sitting Alderwomen Kelly Russell and Donna Kuzemchak, longtime city resident Jeannette Bartelt; The Frederick Center Chairman Kris Fair; Antonio Bowens, a west side resident and interior designer at JC Penney at Dulles Towne Center; Derek Shackelford, a 2013 candidate and former Frederick County Democratic State Central Committee member; and Todd Anderson, a Frederick resident whose name popped up Friday on the city’s website.
All of the candidates who filed are Democrats.
The election is set for Nov. 7.