By Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun
7:14 PM EST, November 14, 2013
With a prospective developer abandoning plans to revitalize a key vacant building on the City Dock waterfront, owners of the Annapolis property said they're uncertain about the future.
"We don't have a clue where we are," said Greg Kaufman, co-owner of the Fawcett Boat Supplies building with Terry Terhorst through their company, Chandler LLC.
Businessman Mark Ordan, who had hoped to demolish the vacant Fawcett building, said he terminated the deal to buy the property about three weeks ago, citing persistent opposition from city leaders and residents.
"It became clear to us there would have been months of fighting with city leaders over this project," said Ordan, CEO of Sunrise Assisted Living, who led an investment group that planned to buy the building at 110 Compromise St.
Ordan's withdrawal from the project leaves Kaufman and Terhorst unsure what will come next for the building, which has been vacant since 2010 when Fawcett moved to another location.
Kaufman said he initially wanted to lease the building to a new tenant, rather than redevelop the property.
Redevelopment "was not high on our list of priorities, but we got convinced that was pretty much the only way things were going to happen, so we went along with it," he said. "And now that's fallen apart. Now I don't know where we are."
Mayor Josh Cohen, who lost a re-election bid this month, was a key champion of redeveloping the site and introduced legislation to rezone the property from maritime to mixed-use zoning. The rezoning would accommodate Ordan's plan to demolish the old building and replace it with a modern, 2.5-story building.
Ordan's proposal and Cohen's legislation aroused downtown residents and business owners, who formed a group called Save Annapolis to oppose the plan. Citing the opposition, Ordan said in July that he was going to abandon his plans. Cohen tried to salvage the deal.
"I think Mayor Cohen gets it and realizes the importance of change, and he was trying to work toward that," Ordan said. "But obviously a lot of people didn't agree with him or he'd be a second-term mayor."
The City Council never voted on Cohen's rezoning legislation. Kaufman's earlier effort to have the zoning changed to commercial also never went to a vote.
Kaufman said he's unsure how Mayor-elect Mike Pantelides and the new aldermen will view revitalizing or rezoning the property. He hopes to meet soon with Pantelides, who takes office in December.
Pantelides said during the campaign that he opposes rezoning the Compromise Street side of the dock, saying he believed it could be revitalized within the existing maritime zoning, which allows for 30 percent commercial use and 70 percent maritime use.
Pantelides said Wednesday that he'll reach out to the property owners.
"It's no benefit to the city to be closed; it's no benefit to the owner," he said.
Ordan wouldn't say how much he spent on the Compromise Street project. His group never officially bought the property.
"I'm very happy I moved on," he said.
The Fawcett building and property is valued at $3.21 million for tax purposes, according to property records. Chandler LLC bought the building in 1998 for nearly $2.49 million.
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