As members of the Frederick Historic Preservation Commission dig into the details of preserving the historic elements of the Birely Tannery site as part of the proposed downtown hotel and conference center plans, code violations at the on-site building remain outstanding.
The brick building constructed in 1909 at 212 E. Patrick St. is slated for demolition in the latest plans for the proposed multimillion-dollar downtown hotel and conference center.
That demolition is held off — at least for now — following a Historic Preservation Commission vote on July 13.
Commissioners voted to designate the historic site as a contributing resource of unusual importance to the Frederick Town Historic District. The vote opened a long discussion to determine how the historic elements of the site can best be preserved. The commission is slated to continue that discussion, and a discussion of the plans for the former Frederick News-Post building slated for incorporation into the hotel project, at a workshop scheduled after Thursday’s regular Historic Preservation Commission public hearing.
The four-story, 180-room hotel and 20,000-square-foot conference center are slated for construction at 200 and 212 E. Patrick St. The News-Post building at 200 E. Patrick St. is slated for incorporation into the project plans as a retail site. The tannery building is set to be razed for parking.
Current code violations
The tannery building was constructed in 1909 and has been classified as the last tanning facility in Maryland. The building is run-down, and according to city code enforcement officials, has several outstanding violations.
Violations issued in March include:
- Missing, damaged and improperly boarded-up windows.
- Missing and damaged lintels.
- Missing or damaged and rotting soffits, roof trim and fascia.
- Missing drainpipe and defective gutters.
Brittany Parks, the city’s division manager for code enforcement, said via email Wednesday the notice for violations remains open, meaning the violations have not been addressed.
According to the city’s online code enforcement database, another violation for infestation was also issued July 5. Bond said Wednesday the infestation complaint relates to groundhogs in the building. Bond submitted the online complaint about the infestation.
The owner of the building is listed as 200 E. Patrick Street LLC. The same LLC also owns the former Frederick News-Post building. According to Parks’ email, that building has no outstanding code violations.
Will Randall, the general manager of 200 E. Patrick Street LLC, said via email in March that his family was addressing the complaints at the tannery building. He was reportedly out of the country Wednesday and unavailable for comment.
Myron Randall, a member of the LLC, said Wednesday that local contractor Anthony Owens was hired to address the code violations at the building. According to the city’s website, a permit was issued to Owens on April 28 to perform work at the building. The work included installing painted plywood panels over the broken windows, replacing a deteriorated plywood panel in the attached shed on the south side of the building with new painted plywood, and extending missing gutters and downspouts to match the existing ones. The permit does not state that the work had been completed.
Randall said he saw Owens boarding up windows since the violations were issued and knew the contractor had plans to clear tree limbs and work on the gutters. Randall said he is not aware of any open code violations, including the infestation violation issued earlier this month, and believes all of the open violations have been addressed.
“All of the issues I knew about were addressed,” he said.
Randall also said that any work going on at the building was put on hold when the demolition request was submitted. According to city records, all of the applications for the hotel, including the demolition request for the tannery building, were submitted June 15.
The outstanding code violations were also not the first ones issued at the site.
For years, various code violations have been issued and addressed. For example, according to city code enforcement records, the building was condemned in 2011 after a fire and subject to “demolition by neglect” in 2013 due to a litany of issues.
A written case summary that project architects Bates Architects submitted June 15 said the tannery building must be removed because of its location in the footprint of the planned hotel.
The document described both the interior and exterior conditions of the building as “fair to poor.” It said the building has been unoccupied for decades and referenced the 2011 fire that “compromised portions of the structure.” It also said most of the remaining historic windows are damaged and would require reconstruction and that the roof is made of a material that provides minimal protection.
The report is part of hundreds of pages of documents that accompany the demolition application slated for discussion at Thursday’s workshop.
Other items include a history of the site, a recounting of the tanning industry and its historic significance in Frederick, historic and current pictures of the site, results of an archaeological investigation and evaluation of the site, a scope of work for the project, and more.
The commissioners also discussed some aspects of the request and the plans for the site at a workshop on July 13.
The applicants — who include developers Plamondon Hospitality Partners, city officials, the property owners, architects and others — have said they considered all of the alternatives to retain the structure or integrate it into the project design and determined them to be infeasible because of site conditions, programmatic needs and economic factors. The developers and architects are set to explain their evaluations and allow the commissioners the opportunity to request more documentation, if they wish, at the workshop.
Several vocal project opponents have spoken out against tearing down the tannery, citing its historic significance and contribution to the district. Some opponents have also objected to the proposed downtown and conference center as a whole.