Editorial: Success of Warfield critical to Carroll’s future

For roughly two decades, the economic development of the Warfield Commerce and Cultural Center in Sykesville has been touted as a potential savior for both the town and Carroll County as a whole. It is now one step closer to fruition.

On June 26, the Town of Sykesville closed the deal, selling the Warfield complex to a group of local investors and business people known as the Warfield Collaborative.


As Commissioner Doug Howard, who represents the Sykesville-Eldersburg area, said last month, the government piece of Warfield is now over, and it is now privately owned, allowing Sykesville and the county to collect property taxes on it rather than investing taxpayer dollars into it. The settlement also meant the return of about $3.5 million to the Carroll County Industrial Development Authority, which can use that money to invest in other projects, as well as roughly $1 million to Carroll County government.

That, in and of itself, is a win. But the continued development of the area should provide a boost to the county in a much bigger way.

Warfield is a series of buildings, many roughly 100 years old, on the former grounds of the Springfield Hospital, a mental institution. While Springfield continues to operate on a much smaller basis nearby for forensic patients, the land and these buildings that make up the Warfield complex have been largely unused for decades, since a movement in the 1970s and ’80s to deinstitutionalize mental health.

In recent years, plans have been made to turn the area into a mixed-used project combining residential homes and commercial businesses. With the property now settled, ground will be broken and work is expected to begin shortly on the development of about 140 townhouses on two parcels of the Warfield complex.

Commercial space in existing buildings is already being marketed, while renovations are planned for additional historic buildings. Three other commercial parcels of Warfield have been tabbed for new development of office space, shopping establishments and potentially a hotel.

Growth won’t occur overnight, and that’s a good thing. Howard and others anticipate it could be another decade until the project is fully realized.

But the proximity of Warfield makes it a great place to target for growth. Located near the edge of the county, developing Warfield means Carroll can grow its economic tax base to pay for the needs of the community — such as schools, police and roads — without drastically and negatively affecting quality of life in more rural and residential parts of the county.

Much of the infrastructure is also in place to support it. Water necessary to support development is available in that part of Carroll. The county government fiber project is already in place, allowing for high-speed internet access for companies that wish to relocate there. And state government’s plans to widen Md. 32, already occurring in Howard County and planned for Carroll, make access to Warfield — just 6.5 miles from the Md. 32 Sykesville exit off Interstate 70 — convenient.

Ultimately, this could be a transformative development for Carroll. Much of the county serves as a bedroom community, with more than half of its residents commuting outside Carroll to work.

“We are trying to change that now so that people don’t have to leave to go to work,” Sykesville Mayor Ian Shaw told us. “That’s really been the new vision of Warfield: to bring the jobs so people can live, work and play in one place.”

Achieving that will go a long way toward attracting young families the county needs to thrive, making the success of Warfield critical to Carroll County’s future.