The Warfield Commerce and Cultural Center — which has been in the development and planning stages for almost 20 years — made groundbreaking headway on Monday, June 4, as the Sykesville Planning Commission approved the final site plan for two residential parcels.
The decision to move forward on closing the deal comes after the Sykesville Town Council passed a resolution authorizing Mayor Ian Shaw to sign all necessary documents involved in the settlement at its last meeting on May 29 — and Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5, said the journey was a much longer one than he originally expected heading into office eight years ago.
“Unfortunately I didn’t really understand how complicated the project was and what it would take to get it done when I very confidently went out and made a [campaign] video and called [Warfield] the ‘Intersection to Nowhere,’ ” Howard said at his District 5 Town Hall meeting in Eldersburg this week.
When he got into office eight years ago, he said, meetings were not regularly held discussing the Warfield Commerce and Cultural Center and there were many state and county agencies with their hands in the mix.
Eight years later, the developer is closing on the deal and the construction of 145 townhouses on parcels E and F will begin before the year’s end.
“The government piece is done,” he said at the meeting, “and we go to settlement within the next two weeks. The first thing that happens is the Industrial Development Authority, who bought out the state’s interest in that back in the fall — gets $3.5 million back we can use for other projects and Carroll County government gets $1.5 million of their money — all the money put in the project.
“As of July 1, this is privately owned and paying property taxes,” he said.
The District 5 commissioner said a hotel, shopping establishments and office space, are are tentatively planned for the remaining three commercial parcels.
“The commercial buildings are on the market right now,” said Howard. “The challenge is someone has to come in and kind of fix them up, and they’re hard because they’re historic buildings and there’s a lot to do.”
And complications regarding historic buildings are just one part of it.
As it has taken almost 20 years to get to this point, it could take another decade to fully complete the Warfield Project, he said.
“It’s going to be a long-term project to develop — five, eight, 10 years to really build it all the way out — but getting it to this point is huge,” said Howard.
“We’ve already in the last year added a sort of biotech company that's in there,” he said. “The folks that are taking it on are looking at the next building to develop; we are hoping to take them down one by one.”
More information on the Warfield Project, its pattern books and guidelines can be found on the Sykesville Town website