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.

Follow Nancy Lavin on Twitter: @Nancy_Lavin228.

Nancy Lavin covers social services, demographics and religion for The Frederick News-Post.

(5) comments

7bagels

I agree that the building is not attractive in the least, as shown in the renderings. I also take issue with the proposition that this building will bring any so-called young professionals to downtown. What young professional wants to live in a communal, generically styled setting such as this? It is jobs, not housing projects, especially this one in particular, that bring people downtown. Is the target demographic of this housing even the type that will have disposable income to feed back into small business, 'enlivening' in the immediate area?

jwhamann

The Historic Preservation Commission can approve of something like this yet they.......nevermind, I was going to mention the ex-Chinese restaurant building a few blocks away....

This is an awful design to begin with. So generic.

Glen Shiel

Cancel that. The caption of the picture says "A rendering of the proposed building at 520 North Market St....." yet the view is the 6th St. view. Good clear description FNP. [thumbup]

Glen Shiel

I'm having trouble interpreting the artists conception drawings as I look at Google Street View. No. 520 is not only an old school house but was afterwards the original FCC. In the artist's drawing that building is shown in the 3rd and 4th pictures but not in the 1st, 2nd, or 5th. And there is currently no old, 2 story red brick building in that area as is shown in the 1st, 2nd, and 5th pictures. The 1st, 2nd, and 5th pictures show nothing of the current building at 520. From these pictures I have no idea what the intent of this project is to be. Does anyone?

Dwasserba

I am watching this meeting right now and hope Mr. Edens uses this as a column topic. It is hard to imagine adding 50 some units in four storied but his point about adding people to enliven this area is well taken.

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