Four reasons not to vote to demolish — speaking notes for HPC17-490 2017.09.14

Commissioners: demolition of the Birely tannery must be voted down for four reasons.

1. Demolition would bring on a very bland glass front for some 250 feet along Carroll Creek when there’s an opportunity for developing a point of interest 100 feet along and 12 foot down that tells the story of 19th century tanning and also of the history of floods and flood control. The plan hogs far too much of the Carroll Creek frontage for the proposed hotel complex.

Frederick’s charm and attraction will be diminished. Our downtown is attractive, I submit, because we have a tradition of old and new in close proximity – the Delaplaine Center, Everedy Square, Monocacy Valley Canning, Brewers Alley are examples.

2. Demolition should be blocked as part of downsizing of the hotel complex. We have better uses for $31 million of taxpayer money. Experts have repeatedly said the complex is too large, costs too much and is a risky bet at 200 rooms and 20,000sf. Matt Seubert a former CPA with Marriott says in a submission to you that 80 rooms and 8,000sf are more likely to succeed financially, especially if it is to be ‘upper upscale.’

3. Demolition should be stopped because it would be an injustice. A legal travesty. The law is clear. The guidelines require the Commission to consider “all possible alternatives” to demolition not just the developer’s alternatives. All possible. Hasn’t happened. Also, quoting the Land Management Code, or City law: “the Commission shall attempt to formulate an economically feasible plan with the owner… for its preservation.” There has been no attempt to formulate such a plan for the preservation of the tannery. The Commission has merely listened to hours of sales talk from the proponents of the Big Marriott.

4. Demolition should not be contemplated by this Commission because preservation of landmark buildings is your core responsibility, your raison d’etre. You voted unanimously that this was a contributing historical resource of ‘unusual importance.’ It is a historic landmark. The Maryland Historical Trust found the site and structure so important that they declared it eligible for listing on the national register of historic places. As a preservation commission you become a laughing stock if having just asserted the high historic importance of this landmark building a few weeks ago you now vote to demolish. That would be absurd to the point of farce.

NOTE: Farce happened! They voted to demolish.

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