Residents, business owners and building owners who live or work near the vacant Asiana restaurant on North Market Street say they have either given up or are trying their best not to.

They tried to contain their excitement in October when they saw workers carrying tools and materials into the building at 123 N. Market St., which has been vacant for more than a decade.

But, since then, the city has put a stop to the work.

The owners, Myung and Duk Hee Ro, did not request the proper permits, according to city documents. And they still have not corrected safety issues in the upstairs apartments that have been a concern since before April 2012, when the city first condemned the building.

The Ros did not answer multiple phone calls last week for comment.

Those who live or work nearby say they wonder when, or if, the city will get a handle on the situation.

The city told the Ros in a Jan. 6 letter they have until March 6 to submit permits to fix safety issues or else they will be issued a $1,000 fine; however, Zack Kershner, the city's director of public works, said the city will not necessarily hold them to that.

"If they don't meet the deadline and yet have shown significant progress, we may allow them a short extension," Kershner said. "If they haven't made progress, we will issue the fine."

Former Mayor Jennifer Dougherty said the situation "is out of control."

"There is no direction that says, 'We are going to enforce the code,'" she said. "There is nobody that is directing the staff to push this forward."

Bob Kannor, owner of Viniferous on North Market Street, said he has done "all a citizen can do" to try and improve the situation.

"If the people who are in power in the city really wanted to do something, they would," he said.

During the city's election last fall, residents told candidates that vacant and blighted properties were one of their greatest concerns.

Five days before the city's primary election on Sept. 5, Mayor Randy McClement and the Board of Aldermen approved a new city regulation called receivership. Receivership allows the city to take the owner of a habitually vacant, unsafe and nuisance property to court, where the owner could be forced to make upgrades or where the court could take the property and sell it to a qualified owner to fix up.

McClement said receivership would be used as a last line of defense, after the city had documented all fines and issues with repeat offenders.

But since October, the city has not issued one fine, fee or citation regarding the Asiana building. The city issued one citation on one of the Ros' properties at 300 N. Market St., the old location of That Cuban Place, for a broken window, but the fine was lifted when the owners complied, said Dan Hoffman, the city's code enforcement manager.

The permit the city issued in October was for demolition only. In early November, a "concerned citizen" and inspectors took photos showing that the contractors were doing new framing, electrical and plumbing work without proper permits, according to a Nov. 5 email from Todd Himes, the city's building manager, to Kershner.

Himes told Kershner that the city would typically issue a stop work order with a $150 removal fee, and double the permit fees for the proper permits.

But Kershner wrote back to Himes and said not to issue the order or fee, but to tell the owner to stop work and submit applications for permits.

"I spoke with the mayor," Kershner wrote. "We are going to give them one opportunity to comply."

The city has issued about five to 10 of the stop work orders to other property owners in the last year, Himes and Kershner said.

The Ros have yet to submit applications for framing, electrical and plumbing permits.

Instead, in mid-November, they submitted applications for four permits for work to upstairs apartments.

The city placed all four permits on hold in mid-December and sent the Ros the Jan. 6 letter.

Since then, city staff has "maintained an open line of communication with the contractor and architect," Kerhner wrote in an email.

Dougherty said the situation is bad for everyone — residents, building owners and business owners. Dougherty owns Magoo's Pub on West Second Street.

"It reveals a lack of commitment to the value that we all see downtown," she said.

Kannor said he just would like downtown to be a better place.

"It just needs to become more vibrant," he said.

Follow Jen Bondeson on Twitter: @Jen_Bondeson.

(78) comments

eddiemac99

"Japanese and Oriental Restaurant" The 1960s called. They want their language back![beam]

elymus43

If this was a ANNEXATION problem, there would a quick action taken.

C8H10N4O2

These little filthy rich owners are taking the city for a ride, and the city is an active participant in the charade. That's what you call "business friendly."

Newthinking7

Simply picket the buildings, and do not go to the family medical bussiness. That is how they all made the money, medical.

FredFred

Can you post the names of those medical offices?

soyboy99

Randy doesn't seem to have his own email address on the city website, instead it says to use this one: susan@cityoffrederick.com I would suggest that that we all inundate it with our feelings. Also all of the aldermans emails (http://www.cityoffrederick.com/index.aspx?nid=122) Posting on here is useless.

FreddyFred

Mayor Randy McClement: rmcclement@cityoffrederick.com

alovelyplace

Let's look at Baltimore. 'Investors', developers had bought up block after block and are looking to future prospects as the community dwindles and dies, taking with it the property values and lives of those remaining homeowners and businesses attempting to hang on. Yes, inspections and fines help. But they can't fix the problem. Now what if... That homeowner and business' property tax stayed at a lower more reasonable rate and the property tax of the 'investor' rose each year for the privilege of the benefit of the decreasing value? Would this not fascilitate a quicker decision on the investor's part while also protecting the rights of all? And where was this angry mob when developers neglected 4th street homes for 20 years? Just askin.

darththevader

Ummm...really??

OFMV

Yes Really: http://www.urbantoolsconsult.org/upload/Frederick%202010%20Report_Final.pdf [wink]

amphibo2

"Kannor said he just would like downtown to be a better place.

"It just needs to become more vibrant," he said."

Asiana is in a prime location and is obviously in need of new ownership. I'm not, however, sure of how Kannor wants to make downtown 'more vibrant'. Downtown is hopping. Try and find parking in the evening and good luck dining without reservations.

lurksaroundshadows

Here's a quandery, since this has been a vacant building for the last ten years who has been insuring it. No company in its right mind would insure an abandoned building, especially a dilapidated one. So, if there is a fire or the building were to collapse I guess the innocent who are injured or killed have no real course of action.

Even if a homeless person or drug addict starts a fire or does other damage that extends out to the neighboring builds, who is going to pay? Not the City, that is for sure. But, the City can be brought into the lawsuit since they have negligently let this go on for far to long. And, if the City is sued, guess who pays in the long run? We do, the tax payers.

dlharmon

It comes down the to Ros doing what ever they want once again. They know no one in Frederick has the brass ones to enforce anything unless they have a personal interest in it.
This has been an ongoing issue with them for 20 some years and they have always gotten away with blighted properties so why on earth would they take anyone seriously at this point?
The City of Frederick created this problem when they didn't man up the first 100 times with the Ros.

jgrose79

Nope. This is what happens in America when you give business grants to foreigners. They cheap out on the contractors. I can guarantee that the contractors they were using are Asian and speak zero English. I deal with these tenants all of the time in construction. Asian business owners usually want to keep their work within their own racial community. You can call me a racist, but that is truly how it goes. They do not pay for the appropriate permits and have zero understanding of not only construction requirements, but also as to how things are properly done. They may understand how to make a mean egg roll or some sushi, but when it comes to actually following the rules, they barely want to reach a deal to do the bare minimum requirements. They always look for the cheapest way out. They get in over their heads and they have no clue what they are getting into. You can blame the city leaders all you want, but they shouldn't have to spend tax dollars to make these owners pay. They only thing they can do is condemn the building and make the owners pay to make the storefront safe to the public. What is inside can stay inside as long as it isn't a hazard.
One way out may be to condemn it as a fire hazard and make them either do what is needed to update it to standard, or they lose it by criminal liability.

amphibo2

GROSS 79 -- CALL BLAINE AND GET ON HIS SHOW... painting broad brush stereotyping is a sure way to get into the Fredneck hall of fame!

srpez2

In order to "enforce" the code (law), the city has to prove that the owners have failed to abide by the law despite opportunities to get themselves back within the law. Otherwise it'll go before a judge and it'll be thrown out. Let the city work their process; regardless of what they do, half of you will say "too fast!" while the other half is screaming "what's taking so long?!"

hallemd

You don't think 10+ years is too long?

alovelyplace

Let me guess, the developer who would like to get his hands on this prime property is the one stuffing campaign pockets and passing out pitchforks. Since when is this building facade so repulsive that you refused to dine and gaze out at it from Brewers Alley or past it to Eateries and Shoppes beyond? I would like to know why 'your' property rights take precedence over theirs.

Dwasserba

Good point. Basically we resent them for buying in an area where other owners showed more imagination. "Buy a building, let it die" is just not what we expect anymore. And actually I am sick of the storefront and have never eaten at Brewer's Alley. It might be unrelated.

OFMV

I appreciate your sharing your opinion. I'm very sympathetic to your plight over the blight. I just think your approach is a discriminatory one. I'd like to see a bigger picture view of how to positively accomplish change.

nbouqu1

This is what happens when you re-elect Mayor Milktoast

Crustybachelor

When the blighted building catches fire and takes half a block and a few lives with it - the city will probably face lawsuits over this failure to act...along with the Ros.

edens30

"When the blighted building catches fire..." It does happen, consider this cautionary tale from another town: http://www.metropulse.com/news/2014/feb/12/hard-lesson-saga-mcclung-warehouses-comes-close-wh/

elymus43

Isn't this typical of City Hall??? Frederick City wants tourist, businesses, and etc. to come here when we have this kind of thing going on here???????? The candidates before the election talked about their experience, now let the voters see action.

ballenger-creek-golfer

Frederick is open for business.

sunidlyte

Let's all band together and picket the locations durning rush hour. If we get enough people together we can make Market Street standing room only:) Downtown completely gridlocked with people on a nice Friday afternoon at say...5pm. If the people want heard, the people need to make an impact.

ballenger-creek-golfer

Sure I have nothig else to do.[wink] I'm on the fnp website all day.

fredneckian

How about 2 locations, one downtown, and one right outside their home?

darththevader

This is a prime piece of property. If only she would stop cutting corners she could be making bank on it instead of it being a financial burden. Not very good business sense

darththevader

And Jennifer has what to do with it???

Dwasserba

The mistake was made decades ago when there weren't others interested in buying these buildings who had a vision for them (a la Shab Row). Now what?!!!! If I owned a nearby property and properly maintaining it I would be really angry over this. $1000 fine doesn't seem like a deterrent when faced with the expense of bringing a money pit up to code! Their "rights" STOP where adjoining owners' start!!

FreddyFred

A $1,000 fine that isn't even likely to be enforced Dwass. That's the thing that gets me... why all this bending over backwards to accommodate property owners with no regard for the process or the community. Mind-boggling.

anneabouttown

Ok a few things;
1. It's obvious that fines or taxation isn't going to sway these people. They apparently have time and money to burn.
2. Giving them "chances" hasn't worked for 10 years. Action is what is needed.
3. Oriental is only offensive when referring to a group of people, not to food or other like rugs, dolls, etc.
4. The Dalai Lama is from Tibet. The person talking about him was not referring to the owners heritage.

Comment deleted.
ballenger-creek-golfer

Okay then, what does the "Dalai Lama" have to do with these people since they are Korean?

alovelyplace

The cure for Blight is proper taxation not eminent domain. You are nothing less than a hypocrit to ignore the taxable value of unimproved property owned by developers while taking pot shots at those holding deteriorating buildings.

FreddyFred

Not to mention why the 300 block of North Market is allowed to languish blighted and vacant for over a decade, again largely because of the Ro's, but mainly because there is NO VISION and NO LEADERSHIP at City Hall. Millions put into the creek project while other areas of our city are just let go. Property owners who live near this are the losers, but so is our entire community. If anyone from City Hall reads these comments... please get off your asses and do something that brings positive change to the lives of the residents of this city. To date, City Halls approach to this issue is shameful!

kingesquivel

East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,

FreddyFred

Everything this Mayor and his Code Dept have done on this issue in the last 4 years is a total sham. Randy established the Blighted Property Committee... and then ignored their recommendations. Randy made a big production out of receivership... turns out it wont be implemented for a year or more and a structure will have to be falling down before they use it. Randy says the City will be tougher on repeat offenders and serial blighters.... and every time they treat these people like it's their first offense. Dan Hoffman says in every FNP in article on blight, "enough is enough, and were going to start issuing fines".... never follows through and appears to be impotent. TOTAL SHAM! Your tax dollars at work. If Randy doesn't have to live or work next to it... it apparently isn't a problem worth working on. Sucks to be us.

touscents

The city says receivership is an option. I would like to know that the city has a step by step plan to deal with this case, including what milestones have to met by what dates to avoid fines and receivership. I think that would give peace of mind to everyone. If the city has to pay court costs, it is probably worth it to avoid all the direct and indirect costs of this blighted property.

FreddyFred

Receivership was passed, but has not been implemented, and will not be implemented for a year or more. It is on the books, but is not set up, so it can't be used. Also, it was clearly stated when they passed it, that it will only be used in the most extreme cases (i.e. structure near collapse) and that Asiana WOULD NOT QUALIFY AS A CANIDATE OF RECEIVERSHIP. So, sadly touscents... receivership is meaningless for now.

JohnnyR

Nothing happening at Asiana. How is this news?!
Everyone who is reluctant to act, concerned about the "repercussions' of eminent domain, (oddly) concerned for the Ro's, consider that the Ro's WANT the City to take over their property. It will be a new exciting adventure of legal ramifications and fun for them (after a decade, the same puny, half-hearted fines was boring) and huge tax write-offs on their income taxes. The Duc cannot wait to show off her new kimonos in a court of law and 'go-dutch' when she and S. Aloi go out to dinner.

m21701m

They city wont do anything because ducky and her husband have enough money to fight them in court. It will end up costing the city a ton in legal fees because the city attorney couldn't do this on her own. Chances are they aren't applying for permits because the building needs a lot more than what the public knows. The more they can do without permits is the more they can hide a major structure issue that they will not fix properly.

nbouqu1

The city attorney isn't capable of doing anything on her own. The Deer-In-The-Headlights routine anytime the legal department was asked a question at the handful of Board of Aldermen meetings I attended got old really fast.

FreddyFred

[thumbup] The City Attorney is said to be doing the heavy lifting because Mayor Randy is MIA. Word is... she won't give Code green light to go after folks because she doesn't want to be bothered with the legal hassle should it all go to court.

OFMV

The real cost of Blight to YOUR taxes may be found in this 2011 Study paid for by the City of Frederick. Before you point fingers, do YOU know what Land Value Tax (LVT) has to do with blight/vacancies? Everything. In particular, it's cost to you, the taxpayer. Take a look, beginning at page 15 and then at figure 14 at the list of who's really costing your taxes to go up. (Note: Ocean Downs, LLC tops list the ROs didn't make)

Vacant, Blighted or Underused Land
A challenge is to determine the amount of vacant, buildable, and potentially valuable (as a revenue source) and the location. If land is zoned for a higher use than agriculture, then, all tools available to the City ought to be used to spur
development or sale to a willing builder. Failing that, the landowner ought to pay for the privilege of owning land connected or close to one of the greatest infrastructural systems (and connections to outside markets) that exist anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic.
The assessment roll does provide clear-cut definitions of vacancy: those taxable parcels with land value and no building value. 1,009 parcels are purely vacant, and are on the tax rolls. The assessment roll does not provide clear guidance on
blight or underuse. Building conditions are listed “fair, average and good” which the Center believes is too vague a standard for a fair determination (bur included in the appendices)
The Center has adopted a practice over the years of making a stated assumption that a parcel with no land value or a percentage of building value relative to land value of less than 5% of the median value of buildings in a jurisdiction is
essentially vacant or purposefully underused. Using that metric, the Center concludes that 1,127 taxable parcels in Frederick are vacant (4.8% of the parcels) and are valued at $233 Million (about 8% of total land value). The average 16 value of these lots is $278K and the median value is about $90K.

http://www.urbantoolsconsult.org/upload/Frederick%202010%20Report_Final.pdf

OFMV

What? Lower the property tax for lesser value properties and increase it on those mulit-million dollar properties sitting vacant?
The Chamber of Commerce and Big Business must have spewed their coffee over the results of this study. If City officials need back bone, its to do to the right thing and shift the bulk of the burden off of residents backs. Its a win-win for all.

Land Value Tax Implementation: the mechanics of splitting the rate
The first order of business is to determine the effect of a rate change would have on all parcels in the city. This is done by determining the building-to-land ratio (B: L) of Frederick. By dividing the assessed value of improvements by the assessed value of land, a ratio 1.6884:1 is derived. Simply, any parcel with a B: L above 1.6884:1 would save on their property taxes. Conversely, a ratio of less than 1.6884:1 would pay.

Conclusion
The Center concludes that LVT can be part of the arsenal of the City of Frederick in its bold attempts to keep the character of this historical gem, while attracting ratables by making the tax structure more conducive to capital investment, and less conducive to transitional uses or no use at all. The commercial corridors at the western and astern
approaches to the city center are in need of redevelopment and an overhaul of purpose. Tax policy works hand in hand with other critical missions of government. The analysis of the revenue impacts of LVT indicate that that desired outcome would be assisted by the tax structure change.
Existing uses would emerge with a wash, or savings. The Center would recommend a gradual adopt of LVT in a revenueneutral manner, or as a revenue enhancement tool that will not lead to disinvestment in a wobbly economic climate.
The economics are basic, and the policy outcome is in line with current city planning, development polices and a desire for well-built, compact and walkable residential areas with zoned and planned multi-use areas being able to acquire and take advantage of land being held out of use, or held as a “taxpayer.”

xroads1213

These people should give a seminar on "How to play the city of Frederick". They are truly the Zen Masters of delaying, getting extensions and pretending to "no unnastand" the rules.

ballenger-creek-golfer

"unnastand"?

OFMV

Jennifer's comments are way out of order. Last time I visited her establishment there was a loud crash, bang followed by Jennifer literally holding up a sink that had just become detached from the wall with pipes bursting. How long did it take her to get her building plans and permits approved? Perhaps, not long enough.


jill king

Ever own a business in the historic district? Taking pot shots at Jennifer will not get you anywhere.

WarrenW

Don't Myung and Duk Hee Ro know that the term "oriental" is offensive?

ballenger-creek-golfer

Isn't the Orient Express in France?[sneaky]

Comment deleted.
ballenger-creek-golfer

What does this have to do with my statement?

xroads1213

Yes, it is. They should be required to immediately take that sign down. Where is the Asian community outrage?

quemzeee2


It is NOT the mayors fault, It is NOT the code enforcements officials faults at all.
All those who continunualy push against Goverment under the fear of losing their rights,,,,take a bow,
All those who demand that Government Employees are over staffed and over paid... Take a bow.
If they are renting to the Homeless as implied, How many of them are drug users looking for housing? How many are alchoholics from the streets.

No rental controls in the city, no rental or code compliance in the county. Get ready, this is nothing compared to what is headed here.

FreddyFred

NOT the mayor's and code's fault? Randy & Code could change this all tomorrow. Enter Dan Hoffman's name in the Frederick News Post search engine and look at the years of articles where he is quoted as saying, "We're going put a stop to this and start issuing fines" and year after year of nothing. There is NO LEADERSHIP at City Hall. Randy didn't create the problem, but he has done nothing to deal with it.

sevenstones1000

What is wrong with you people? Whatever happened to property rights. If you own a property and want to paint your front door purple, you are free to do so. If you want to buy a building and let it sit empty and fall to pieces, that is completely within your rights. Why didn't you complainers buy the building when it was up for sale, if you care so much about it? We are a free country, not a communist state where the government can steal your property because you don't have the right little shop on it.

Do I have the Republican line right?

Ca55

The total neglect of their property is causing structural problems to the properties that abut it. THAT is not a "right." The restaurant is not standing alone with no effect other than visual on surrounding properties. It's becoming a domino problem. Ask the property owners/renters on each side what has been happening to THEIR buildings as a result of the total neglect of the restaurant. And that can spread on down each side of the street. Why should the abutting owners have to comply and pay for repairs that are a DIRECT result of the neglect and arrogance of the restaurant owner??

Dwasserba

I did not buy it because I was still working in real estate management and I had an idea what I'd be getting into. Besides, I'd been as far as its interior foyer in the eighties while it was open, on a day it smelled like pee and no one was there to welcome us. Not sure a welcome would have helped. All the ambience of an abandoned subway tunnel. Yum, let's eat.

thump1202

eminent domain needed, this has gone on long enough.

nbouqu1

[thumbup]

j9581

Just fine them, they won't pay, they won't apply for permits, fine them again, then go for eminent domain. I'm tired of hearing about these things.

Perhaps if we all write letters to The Ros, every day, filling their mailbox, every day, we could have some effect.

fredneckian

They are wealthy. They would hire some lawyer to sue you for harassment and you would have to hire a lawyer to fight it, but I agree with you in principle.

FreddyFred

[thumbup] ... but you need to write the Mayor to get the fines going, not the Ros.

quemzeee2

This scenario alows us to see the shortcommings of the structure of code enforcement regs in the city and county
This is so very typical of what has happend everywhere in the city for code enforcment to curb blight.
Now just take that to your neighborhoods and aply it,.
As to the fines involved. They laugh. The fines are miniscule in comparison with the cash flow.
The fines here along with the time locked up aplying the code rules simply no longer work here.
We need to revamp alot of items here to catch up with the growth that has been unregulated.

FreddyFred

You hit the nail on the head quemzeee2 [thumbup]

CynnicalSid

Let's see, renting to the homeless without heat running water or electricity, vagrants breaking in through the rear windows daily, police calls weekly, code complaints weekly, building full of trash, filth and human waste, ignoring demands year after year by the city to correct structural and safety issues...... Let's give em one more chance why don't we!

$1000 fine?

How about 90 days in jail?

fredneckian

If the homeless rent a place to live they are not homeless.

catcher

I don't know why the city is showing such patience with the Asiana people. Is the mayor running for Dalai Lama?

I also don't know why there's a link under "More From This Site" that says "Six inches of snow expected" -- a story from February 2. C'mon, FNP. This stuff is important.

ballenger-creek-golfer

What does the "Dalai Lama" have to do with these people since they are Japanese?

nwirth

No, they are Korean. For all of you who re-elected Randy, thanks for nothing. Weak, do nothing mayor.

ballenger-creek-golfer

Okay then, what does the "Dalai Lama" have to do with these people since they are Korean?

ballenger-creek-golfer

xroads1213, do they have visa? Or do they have mastercards? Or do they have a green card? Or are they U.S. Citizens?

hallemd

[wink]

CredibleWitness

Uh, Korean was what you meant, right? But yes, the City's actions are hard to understand. Flagrant, long-term, unanswered defiance of regulations that everyone else has to live with leads you to wonder what is it we aren't seeing here.

Why coddle the two people who own and mismanage the biggest eyesores in downtown Frederick? Why ignore the overwhelming sentiment of the downtown business owners and citizens to cut these two an unbelievable amount of slack? I have yet to hear a convincing reason from the city. You have the tools, you have the authority, you have a reason to act ... what is the hold up?

ballenger-creek-golfer

Okay then, what does the "Dalai Lama" have to do with these people since they are Korean?

xroads1213

I think the earlier post says it all: MONEY TALKS and someone in the government is getting a nice payday.

shiftless88

I took the "Dalai Lama" comment to be like "singing koom-by-ya"; the city is taking a very passive approach like the Dalai Lama does. I didn't take it as having anything to do with the ethnicity of the Ros.

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