Westminster City Council favors property proposal


Westminster city government could get involved in marketing key downtown properties under a proposed policy that got a favorable initial response from the City Council last night.

The council authorized Planning Director Thomas B. Beyard to spend up to $2,000 for conceptual site plans for one unidentified property and to study the possibility of reconstituting the Town Center Development Corp. as a sort of agent for the city.

Targets of the proposal are four properties identified as "key" city sites in a 1994 market analysis and enhancement strategy for Westminster's central business district.

The properties are the former J. C. Penney Building on West Main Street, which has been renovated for office space; the former Farmers Supply Co. property at Liberty and Green streets, which has been on the market for several years; the Westminster Fire Hall on East Main Street; and the Post Office at Main Street and Longwell Avenue.

Mr. Beyard said he didn't expect the council to endorse the concept without additional discussion. He said the proposal introduced at last night's meeting was based on the consultants' identification of "certain key properties that would require city assistance, and I'll leave that broad at this point, to develop."

Council members have informally discussed buying and marketing the Farmers Supply Co. property. Councilman Stephen R. Chapin Sr. applauded the idea of designating properties that are key to downtown revitalization, but said he would continue to oppose "the city getting into the real estate business."

Mr. Beyard said city government could act as a marketing agent without owning the properties.

He did not identify the property for which he planned to have conceptual site plans drawn, but recent city government interest has focused on the Farmers Supply Co. site.

The consultants' study noted that if the volunteer firefighters need a new building to accommodate growth and expansion, the historic existing building would be "ideal for . . . specialty retail, art, fine dining restaurant, brew pub, library offices, museum and-or performing arts center."

The study recommended trying to keep the post office downtown.

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