Excerpt from Frederick News-Post:
Historic Preservation Commission Chairman Dan Lawton hopes members will be ready to vote after one more workshop on whether to allow demolition of the historic Birely Tannery building for construction of the proposed downtown hotel and conference center.
The commissioners held their third workshop Thursday on the request, which stems from plans to develop the project at 200-212 E. Patrick St. The commissioners determined in July that the early 20th Century brick tannery building and surrounding archaeological site are contributing resources to the Frederick Town Historic District, thus halting immediate demolition plans.
The developers, architects and other project partners are tasked with proving demolition of the tannery is the only logical way to construct the hotel at that site and that possible alternatives to preservation have been exhausted. They must also provide an alternative plan for preserving the historic elements of the site.
Representatives with developer Plamondon Hospitality Partners, architects Peter Fillat Architects and Bates Architects, and Richard Griffin, the city’s director of economic development, presented details of how they arrived at the decision to demolish the tannery, as well other alternatives that were considered and details about what actually exists at the site today during Thursday’s workshop.
Peter Fillat, principal of Peter Fillat architects, and Jim Mills, an architect with Bates Architects, went step-by-step through the four design options they considered, two of which kept the tannery building in place. In both, the project would lose vital parking spaces, they said.
In the preferred design, the tannery building is demolished and the site is used for parking. The project officials assured the historic elements of the site will be adequately preserved and promised to work through the process with the public and preservationists as the plans move forward.
The preferred design also includes full renovation of the historic Frederick Trolley building, which later housed the Frederick News-Post for many years. Pete Plamondon Jr., co-president of Plamondon Hospitality Partners, said he is excited about the renovation plans and looks forward to further discussing the details.
Several members of the public also spoke during Thursday’s workshop. They included several people who have consistently opposed the tannery’s demolition because of its historic significance as what has been reported the last existing tannery building in the state. Several have also expressed fear that the city is on its way to becoming an undesired commercial hub with no history left. Others included Sen. Ron Young, who is a former alderman and the mayor who championed the Carroll Creek flood control project. Young told the commission that the tannery building would be “detrimental to the hotel” and would not work in its current spot.
The commission scheduled a special workshop for 6 p.m. Thursday to continue discussing the project and demolition request details. Plamondon said he and his partners plan to focus on the design and community benefit and impact of the project during the next workshop.
Lawton said he hopes the commissioners will be able to vote after that.
“After the rest of tonight and next week hope I hope to move toward a vote on demolition,” Lawton said Thursday. “That does not mean more work does not need done on the design. I just hope to keep discussions mostly to [demolition] until we get to that plan.”
The current design proposes a hotel with four floors and 180 rooms, roughly 20,000 square feet of rentable meeting space, and about 160 underground public parking spaces.