Carroll County's Industrial Development Authority plans to put a former distillery building in Westminster on the market after turning down two proposals to buy it.
One bid for the Glass House, part of the historic Sherwood Distillery complex, was solicited by Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown from a commercial real estate developer. The other came from a local restaurateur who said he heard "through the grapevine" that the county wanted to sell the building.
Authority Chairman Arthur A. Peck said the five-member IDA, which markets industrial property for county government, decided in a late August meeting that, "We didn't think the proposals were realistic." He would not say how much was bid for the building.
Sal Romeo, owner of Paradiso Restaurant in Westminster, said Friday that he had not been notified of the authority's decision. "I've called Jack Lyburn and he doesn't return my calls," said Mr. Romeo, referring to John T. Lyburn Jr., county economic development director.
Mr. Lyburn provides staff support for the IDA and represents the commissioners in dealing with the agency. He refused yesterday to say why Mr. Romeo was not notified of the decision.
Mr. Romeo said he would have liked to negotiate for the property. "I know they have to have a line they can't go under as far as price goes. But they could come back to me and tell me, 'Your offer is not enough' and negotiate," he said.
David Max of Max Realty, who submitted the other proposal, did not return telephone calls Friday.
Mr. Brown said he began trying to interest Mr. Max in buying the Glass House about a year ago, when Mr. Brown was mayor of Westminster. "It was sitting down there as an eyesore," he said, "and he'd done such a good job with the Winchester Exchange."
The exchange, a downtown building with offices and small shops, is just across a municipal parking lot from the Glass House.
Papers to advertise
Mr. Peck said sale of the Glass House will be advertised in newspapers in Carroll County and Baltimore.
Mr. Lyburn said that although the property was not advertised before the authority considered Mr. Romeo's and Mr. Max's proposals, "local people know it's been for sale."
But two commercial real estate agents who are active in Carroll County, Michael L. Mason and Bernard F. Semon, said they were unaware the county was trying to sell the Glass House.
James H. Dulany, president of Greater Westminster Development Corp. and a real estate appraiser, said he had not been told the property was for sale.
The County Commissioners bought the distillery complex in 1990 for $2.2 million. According to Del. Joseph M. Getty, former director of the county historical society, the glass building, in which grain was dried as part of the whiskey distillation process, has been included in the state inventory of historic properties.
Mr. Peck said the commissioners asked the IDA in May to market the Glass House. The county is barred by law from selling property except at public auction, but the authority, an independent body, can negotiate sales with private businesses or industries.
Marketing left to IDA
The three commissioners said in separate interviews that they have left decisions on how to market a property to the authority.
County officials have acknowledged that the property has never been professionally appraised. County Attorney George A. Lahey has said the value of the real estate could be less important to the authority than the proposed use or jobs it could generate.