Amid a downtown booming with development, renovations and changes in ownership, time has stood still at one creekside property.

The facades at 58-70 S. Market St. and the roofless building next door at 56 S. Market St. are all that remains from the buildings torn down decades ago, rendered uninhabitable after years of neglect by the former property owner. But since being sold at auction in 2011, plans to transform the abandoned, trash-strewn lots into a two-building, 21-unit apartment complex are finally moving forward.

Montgomery County resident Tarek Aly purchased the nearly 8,000 square feet of property for $153,000 in June 2011, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.

Project details

He recently submitted plans to build a three-story building in place of the facades at 58-70 S. Market St. with a combined 15 apartments, including studio and one- and two-bedroom units. The building at 56 S. Market St. would be elevated to three stories as well — the street-facing portion already stands three stories tall, but the rear is only two. That would then be renovated to make way for six apartments.

Aly said the apartments, targeting young professionals and possibly college students, will provide what he sees as an element missing from downtown’s housing options.

“The city is attracting a lot of young workers,” he said. “Most of downtown is high-end condominium units. This is more middle upscale than luxury upscale. We think that’s needed there.”

Each building would also allow office or commercial use on the ground floors. Given the small amount of space at ground level — 688 square feet in the 56 S. Market St. building and 2,741 square feet in the new building — Aly envisions them as small offices, for a chiropractor or dentist perhaps.

The design of the new building features mostly brick, with fiber cement siding, and wood balconies at the second and third stories.

According to Aly, the design “fits perfectly” with the surrounding brick-heavy buildings. Aly previously submitted plans to the Historic Preservation Commission for a six-story building with an exposed steel structure on the top four stories, but city staff noted that the plan did not fit well with the neighboring structures, according to a staff report.

Neighbors, officials weigh in

Atakan Yilmaz, manager of Capa Imports next door to the planned project, said he’s commented publicly on the abandoned property “at least 15 times” in the 20 years that he’s worked at the store.

“I really hope this goes through,” he said of the project, attributing the high number of homeless people who gather by his store each night to the vacant lots.

In an email Wednesday, acting Frederick police Capt. Jason Keckler said that “vacant properties can attract crime and nuisance issues.”

But he also identified the department’s Directed Patrol Team, formed in 2012, as well as regular patrol assignments downtown, outreach and education efforts, and crime prevention initiatives as ways to address such problems.

Of the plan for mixed residential and commercial buildings, Yilmaz said anything, any activity would be welcome.

“It doesn’t matter what it’s going to be. I just want this block to work,” he said.

Mayor Randy McClement acknowledged that filling the vacant space was “a long time coming,” while Dave Cook, who owns a house on East All Saints Street on the other side of the abandoned lot, heralded the project as “one of the good things” to come out of the blight downtown.

According to McClement, the mixed residential and commercial use proposed by Aly “fits right in with what we’re trying to do up and down Patrick and Market streets.”

Next steps

Since the project falls within the Frederick Town Historic District, the HPC must approve architecture and new construction, according to Jacqueline Marsh, the city’s case planner for the project. The HPC already granted a Level 1 approval for the new construction, and for demolition of the facades.

Before a Level 2 review can begin, however, the Planning Commission must approve the final site plans. A meeting between city planning staff and project team members to discuss the submitted plans is slated for June 22, after which developers have a month to address and respond to comments made, Marsh said.

“If we feel like the plan is ready at that time, we will schedule it for the August workshop. It all depends on what they resubmit to us,” Marsh wrote in an email.

Aly said he and project team members are on track to present at an August workshop.

“We’re really pushing to get the ball rolling there,” he said.

Aly estimated building would take about two years once all approvals and permits are in place.

Follow Nancy Lavin on Twitter: @Nancy_Lavin228.

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

(8) comments

sue1955

As others before me have pointed out, parking is going to be an issue. Most likely, 21 units are going to result in at least 21 cars. That is for the residents only; not guests and anyone with more than one vehicle, for example, couples with more than one vehicle.

Any buildings being renovated need effective pest control services done before and during construction. It is well known in the building and realty industry, but virtually never brought out in news of perspective renovated property, that rats and/or mice are common in buildings that have been vacant for awhile. A lot of time, old buildings are demolished and the new purpose is built from the ground up. I've commented previously about possibly vermin on FNP reports regarding the abandoned properties downtown.

I don't know that the "young professionals" being the targeted prospective tenants are going to be interested in this location with limited amenities. Younger people typically expect a pool, up-to-date exercise room, and a decent grocery store nearby. -Not to mention, parking that is easily accessible to their apartments.

elymus43

Another doomed idea from the start???? Maybe the city could get another Wal-Mart for Frederick to move in that area????

mthompson15

LOL!!!

joelp77440

I don't like the design, I do like the concept of mixed use though. They should keep the facades and incorporate the new design with the old façade, similar to many properties in downtown DC and other areas like Boston. This keeps a part of the old while building new. They did some really cool things with the facades here in DC where the old NPR building was, as well as along F street between 9th and 10th street.

I say be creative.

quemzeee2

Man oh man, He realy got a good price on that property.

sevenstones1000

Some good news. Although not where all the cars will go. You need one just to go the grocery store.

jwhamann

Bicycle, like me.[smile]

tomgeiser

No problem, I'm sure the city will build them a parking deck like they do for just about everybody else.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, insights and experiences, not personal attacks. Ad hominen criticisms are not allowed. Focus on ideas instead.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
No trolls. Off-topic comments and comments that bait others are not allowed.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
Say it once. No repeat or repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.