The two-phase, multimillion-dollar renovation of the Union Mills building has progressed more slowly than anticipated, but project planners say the end is in sight.
The city Planning Commission on Monday will vote on final site plans for the second phase of work planned by Douglas Development Corp., owner and developer of the property at 332-240 E. Patrick St.
The second phase of work targets 15,000 square feet of building space fronting on Carroll Creek for retail use by up to six tenants. In the first phase of work, which is nearly complete, 34,000 square feet of the industrial warehouse was renovated as office and retail space.
If the plans are approved, Monday’s decision would mark the end of a lengthy, complex city approval process.
The city’s Historic Preservation Commission previously reviewed the plans. The five-month HPC approval process came after the commission successfully applied to place a historic preservation overlay on the property.
An overlay is an extra level of regulation on top of zoning requirements already in place. The overlay gives the HPC authority to review and approve major exterior changes to the property. It does not affect the property’s use.
Jim Mackintosh, of Mackintosh Inc. Realtors, who is handling leasing of the property, said the historic designation created some challenges and delays in the timeline.
“But now we see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Mackintosh said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
Mackintosh estimated that the entire building will be ready for occupancy by the summer of 2017.
The software company Regent Education has signed a lease for 26,000 square feet of office space and plans to relocate its 85 employees there from elsewhere in Frederick once the renovations are completed. The office space is included in the first phase of redevelopment, which will end in the next three months, according to Mackintosh.
No leases had been signed as of Wednesday for the remaining retail space included in phase one or for the individual retail sites possible under phase two renovations. However, Mackintosh said he is in discussion with several prospective tenants.
“If everything went right, the building would be full,” he said, referring to the possibility that all prospective tenants agreed to sign leases.
He added that the recently completed Carroll Creek Linear Park, celebrated in a city ceremony last month, has helped draw interest and prospective tenants to the creek-side parcels.
The second phase of work calls for interior renovations, as well as the addition of a rooftop deck, parking and landscaping improvements along the southern end of the building, according to a report submitted by Brandon Mark, a city planner.
To accommodate the maximum of six separate retail tenants, there will also be glass boxes, or vestibules, positioned on the creek to designate separate entrances for each tenant.
The report recommended approval of the site plans with the condition that the developer sign a right-of-way agreement with the city since the vestibules will be along city public park area.
Jeff Whitman, a partner with GTM Architects working on the building design, said in a phone interview on Wednesday that if a single tenant leases the entire retail space, that eliminates the need to provide separate entrances.
Whitman noted that the plans do not significantly alter the appearance of the historic 19th-century industrial building.
“We really are not modifying the original building very much at all,” he said. “We wanted to keep that look.”
Mackintosh also highlighted the historic design as one of the building’s unique qualities.
“There’s no other building like it,” he said.