Robinson's site renovation progressing

April 01, 1994|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Sun Staff Writer

Renovation of the long-vacant Robinson's department store building could be complete by this fall for a new tenant, owners of the building told a county panel last night.

Members of the Glen Burnie Urban Renewal Advisory Committee were encouraged by the news, despite the lack of information on what or who would be occupying the 44-year-old building at the corner of Ritchie Highway and Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard.

Paul Jones, the lead partner in Aspen Joint Ventures, which owns the building that has been vacant for about six years, said the owners wanted to wait until lease negotiations were completed before identifying the prospective tenant.

He described the prospect as a business with a "strong balance sheet, a first-class tenant" that will enable "first-class repair of the building."

Mr. Jones said architects are already working on plans to repair the structure's cracked front wall, and work has begun on basic repairs inside.

"I don't know what more we could want to hear," Henry L. Hein, advisory committee chairman, said after hearing the report.

Even with that tenant, the partnership still will need to find tenants for about half of the building's 16,000-square-foot first floor, said Tom Guckenburg, the leasing agent for the property.

A construction crew was working on the building yesterday morning, preparing to dig up and replace old sewer lines. Mr. Jones said inspectors are also checking the roof that the partnership installed about three years ago for about $50,000.

Mr. Jones said that one of the biggest jobs faced by the owners, repairing the cracked facade, is being planned. It is likely that the yellow-brick wall, which sags about a quarter-inch, will be supported with a new cross-beam.

The committee applauded the owners' efforts and said it would help by trying to speed the review of county permits for the project.

Although the building has remained empty for about six years, Mr. Jones said there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about seeing it occupied.

"The economy is turning now. People are out there doing things again," said Mr. Jones after the meeting at Arundel Center North.

Gene E. Floyd, who with partner Benedict Frederick Jr. owns the buildings adjacent to Robinson's, said he was encouraged by the activity but is reserving excitement until a lease is signed.

"Anything that happens to that place has got to be a plus," he said.

The vacant building "has hurt us in trying to rent our stores, and we've lost tenants because of it," said Mr. Floyd, who has spent more than $500,000 improving his buildings. He said that as a landlord, he understands why it has taken so long to get the building fixed.

Like Mr. Jones, Mr. Floyd was optimistic about the future of the block.

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