County plans to cite Robinson's owners for building, urban renewal violations GLEN BURNIE

January 15, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

The county will issue a citation within days to the owners of the Robinson's building in Glen Burnie for failing to make repairs and bring the structure up to code standards, a county official said.

"The building code violations are for safety, and the urban renewal violations are cosmetic," said the official, Patricia Barland, county commercial revitalization manager.

The 42-year-old building's huge glass windows rattle and its facade has holes, both code violations. Crumbling brick was replaced with concrete and a broken window with plywood, violations of the urban renewal code.

County officials had been meeting with the managing partner of the building's owners since September 1991 to try to get the L-shaped structure repaired to the county's satisfaction. Robinson's fronts Ritchie Highway and Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard.

Ms. Barland said she expects to meet with lawyer Paul R. Jones, managing partner of Aspen Joint Ventures, which owns the former Robinson's department store building. Both said they hope to reach an agreement.

Mr. Jones said he was distressed to receive a warning letter from the county this week. His group bought the building, then vacant, for $650,000 in 1989 to house a business of one of the partners. But that business went belly up, and Robinson's remained vacant.

Mr. Jones said he was being singled out by county officials spurred by people who want him to sell the property even though the nine partners pumped $70,000 into repairs. He had hoped to lease the 22,000-square-foot building as a single unit, renovating it for the tenant. But the downtown area's appearance has deterred large potential tenants, though a few smaller ones have expressed interest, he said.

"I will cannibalize the building and rent it out to less upscale tenants to make everyone happy," he said. "Find me someone who can pay their bills and I will lease to suit."

He said he could not afford to fix the building without tenants and without knowing their needs. He said he hopes light rail will come into downtown Glen Burnie, the Superblock will be redeveloped and the economy will change, making his building more desirable.

Tom Guckenburg, real estate agent for the building, chided the county for moving against a property owner in hard economic times when it has not made improvements to its own vacant property nearby.

"What you have is the county saying the same thing about why they haven't done anything with the Superblock," he said, referring to 5.6 acres of vacant, gravel-covered county-owned land.

A property owner has 30 days to respond to a violation notice and another 30 to complete repairs before the case is turned over to the state's attorney for possible prosecution, Ms. Barland said.

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