A proposal to bring mixed-income workforce housing to downtown Frederick cleared the first of many hurdles Thursday with the city Historic Preservation Commission’s approval for changes to the building.
The commission voted 6-1 to allow a four-story brick addition to the 520 N. Market St. building, which Interfaith Housing Alliance hopes to buy and develop as workforce housing. The county-owned building in the Frederick Town Historic District, which was originally used as a schoolhouse, requires commission approval for any exterior changes to the building, including additions and demolitions.
IHA has not yet bought the building but has partnered with developer PIRHL and Zavos Architecture and Design to draft and submit concept plans for the site.
As proposed, the brick, L-shaped addition planned for the site parking area would have a two-story front along North Market Street and intersect with a four-story building along East Sixth Street. The new construction would also correspond with renovations to the historic structure, including new windows along its north and south sides and a new parking area south of the building.
Commission member Dan Lawton cast the sole vote against the addition proposal. Lawton said that although he liked the design of the project, he did not feel comfortable approving the addition without more details.
One local resident who owns property near the proposed development also voiced concern with the height of the new building proposed.
Amy Schmersal Paradise said the height of the project was appalling and did not fit with the rest of the neighborhood.
“I am stunned and horrified,” she said.
Other commission members, however, described the renderings as the beginnings of a good project with a good design.
The commission also unanimously approved the developer’s request to demolish a brick and concrete stairwell and a ramp on the north and south sides of the building, respectively.
With the commission’s go-ahead, the project team can apply for historic tax credits on the project, according to Mary Ellen Mitchell, director of community relations for the Housing Alliance. If developers receive the necessary credits, expected early next year, project plans will be submitted to the city for review and approval by the city Planning Commission and staff.
“We need to consider that there is still much yet to be determined to see this project come to fruition,” Mitchell said.
Initial plans for the project include 55 to 60 workforce housing units, a community room and rooftop terrace, The News-Post previously reported.