In the lobby of the new Frederick apartment complex The Bottling Plant sits a reminder of the site’s history: a 1950 Coca-Cola machine that the building’s owners have rewired so that it can once again provide cold bottles of Coke to visitors.
The apartment building itself is newly built, although across a parking lot, the structure of the original 1947 bottling plant sits along North Market Street. The complex’s developers, Washington, D.C.-based Brick Lane, are talking with various restaurant owners in the hopes of attracting a restaurant to the space.
“It was very important to us to make this project open to the public,” said Brick Lane’s Jeff Gross, about the plans of bringing a restaurant to the complex.
The city was adamant about keeping the original facade of the plant building, said Rick Conrath, of GTM Architects, which designed the building.
With 86 units on about 5 acres next to Gov. Thomas Johnson High School and Rose Hill Manor Park, the building provides a variety of units, which range in price from $1,750 per month for a one-bedroom, one-bath to $3,025 for a three-bedroom, two-bath apartment.
About 13 percent of the building’s units have already been rented, Gross said Thursday.
The building was constructed in 1947 as a bottling and distribution center.
Coca-Cola stopped bottling products at the site in 1979, and it served as just a distribution center until all operations were closed in 2008.
In 2014, city officials pursued a historic preservation overlay, which would have made it subject to a number of strict restrictions for renovation and redevelopment.
The Board of Aldermen opted to deny the request in a slim majority but was able to control some of the development details when they placed a series of conditions on a rezoning approval in 2015.
Brick Lane was attracted to the property partly because of its location, which provides easy access to the neighborhoods along Md. 26 and to downtown Frederick, as well as to the Rose Hill Manor property, Gross said.
The company tried to tie the buildings into their local history, as well as reminders of the unofficial corporate connection to Coca-Cola.
The paint in the building’s common room was a pale green, meant to evoke the color of the glass in Coke’s iconic bottles.
With board games, a plush couch and a big-screen TV, the common room that looks out onto the patio and pool area is meant to be a place where neighbors can get to know one another, Gross said.
Meanwhile, the public areas and hallways are filled with maps of Frederick County and other areas of Maryland, and an old black-and-white photo of a Frederick High School graduating class hangs in the room where residents will pick up their mail.
Gross said his father, an urban planner, used to bring him to Frederick from their home in Washington to look at the architecture and other features of the historic downtown.
While much of the company’s work has been done in Washington, they’ve enjoyed working on the project in Frederick, he said.
“We love Frederick. It’s been a really warm community and really welcomed us in,” he said.