For 52 years, the shopping center at 467 W. Patrick St. has sat squarely between downtown Frederick and the Golden Mile, housing both local and corporate tenants.
Now, with the first necessary approval for demolition received last week, the center’s future has been called into question. The owners promise, however, that no changes are coming in the near future.
“We don’t actually have any concrete plans to do anything with the shopping center,” said Will Randall, manager of the family trust that owns the 11-tenant strip mall at 467 W. Patrick St., in response to the approval from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.
“What we’re doing is exploring our options,” Randall continued. “We’ve owned the shopping center since we bought the newspaper and cable company in 2001. ... It’s starting to show its age. My job is to look at all of the different options.”
The Randall family has a number of real estate holdings throughout the city, which included The Frederick News-Post until spring 2017, when the paper and its assets were sold to Ogden Newspapers.
The options for the center, Randall explained, include not only demolishing the structure, which dates back to 1966, but also performing minor upgrades and leaving the majority as is, or putting money into new infrastructure and other significant renovations.
On Thursday, Historic Preservation Commission members voted unanimously not to pursue an application for historic designation in response to a request for demolition review. Randall submitted the application jointly with Jody Walker, a designer with Harris Smariga & Associates. The decision gives owners the green light to move forward with an application for demolition if they wish. Typically, developers submit applications, which are required for all city structures that are at least 50 years old, before they proceed with development projects.
If demolition is the route that is taken, Randall said a variety of options exist, including keeping the property with the trust and redeveloping it themselves, or finding a new buyer. Currently, the site is not listed for sale, he said.
Walker said he has completed a preliminary sketch plan that includes demolition of the current structures and construction of apartments in its place. If the owners decide to go that direction, Walker said the next step would be an application for demolition and completion of a site plan.
Randall said they have a meeting with city planning officials at the end of the month to go over the options.
“At this time, we’re meeting with the city just to see if there’s a viable project here,” he said.
If a residential project is pursued, Randall said the property would need some type of rezoning, which is a potentially long and expensive process.
Randall also said he has made sure to keep the tenants, most of which have active leases that do not end for at least two years, in the loop. He added that the condition of the center is good, albeit old, and that a possibility exists that nothing could be done at all.
“There is not an immediate plan to do anything,” Randall said. “It’s there, and we are trying to see what the options are. The tenants and neighbors do not have to worry about it for the foreseeable future.”
The tenants that currently rent space in the center include Mexicali Cantina, Charm City Run, Fredericktowne Eye Care, a Liberty Tax office, Jimmy’s Cleaners, W.T. Mills Hairstyling, Family Dollar, Tournament City Games, Digital Age Solutions, WetchCo Signs, Asian Super Market and Strong Tower Christian Church.