City allows demolition-by-neglect of historic tannery building — given pass on code violations to aid hotel boondoggle?

Birely Tannery building

Anti-blight campaigner Ned Bond says the Mayor is giving the owners of the Birely Tannery site, the Randall family, a pass on code violations in order to further the City-sponsored hotel development at the site. The Maryland Historical Trust, the state preservation agency, recently determined that the tannery building is of sufficient historical importance to be Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

They found it to be a unique example in Maryland of a tannery building retaining its original 19th century structure. In addition the land around the building was found to have significant archeological potential.  Thus the site is separately Eligible for National Register listing.

The site with the Birely Tannery and the adjacent ‘trolley building’ is under contract of sale to the City-selected hotel developer Plamondon

Ned Bond

Hospitality Partners. According to a December 2015 MOU or contract with the City, Plamondon would transfer title to the property to the City which would pay the $3.7m to the Randalls. Plamondon would get use of the site under a 99 year lease of the property at minimal ground rent.

Ned Bond has lodged formal complaints on five code violations at the property at 212 East Patrick Street:

— missing and damaged lintels resulting in damage to masonry walls

— missing or damaged soffit, roof trim and fascia. allowing water penetration to the interior of the building

— missing drainpipes and defective gutters causing damage to walls

— missing, damaged, improperly boarded windows with sills exposed to water damage

— water damage to foundations and masonry walls

Bond has documented some of the major code violations with photographs and keys to the damage (see below.)

He writes: “There are many major code violations that are contributing to the long term degradation of the (tannery) building. Should any or all of these violations go unchecked, the end result will likely be what we have seen with 56 S Market. A building too far gone to restore or recover and (you get) another candidate for demolition. The neglect is obvious and extensive and has occurred over a lengthy period of time.”

Bond says that the City’s Code  Enforcement Office has been “relentlessly handing out violations citywide” while giving a pass to “the one property owner that the City is working with on a sweetheart deal for the new hotel.”

He adds: “(A)nother building rots to the ground. It simply represents a major and continual violation of City code with the blessing of the Mayors office. It is easier to grant demolition on a dilapidated building than one in good condition. By allowing the property owner to let his property slide into oblivion it will be harder to justify its salvation. Are we really in support of historic preservation? It would not appear so…”

Ned Bond’s pictures from his complaint:






























I’ve asked the City for comment, which if forthcoming will be posted here. Same with the Randall family.

City’s code enforcement page:


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