Large-scale projects urged for 2 Catonsville parcels Downtown lots tied to revitalization

November 01, 1995|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

A study by a real estate advisory firm recommends large-scale development for two parcels of land in downtown Catonsville.

The report comes as the community is planning for the use of a promised $1 million from the county to redesign the Frederick Road streetscape. The four-month study was conducted by ZHA Inc. for Catonsville 2000, a community group dedicated to the revitalization of the business district.

Sarah Woodworth, vice president of ZHA, said the study was unique because it was funded not only by the nonprofit Catonsville 2000 group, but also by the county and private interests.

"They were interested in the study because there is so much land area there," said Ms. Woodworth, whose company specializes in downtown revitalization projects. "It's an unusual situation to have that much land available."

The two parcels total 10 acres, on opposite sides of Frederick Road.

The "north target site," which has several retail stores, a bagel shop, a fire station and municipal parking lot, is bounded by Frederick Road, Melrose Avenue, Egges Lane and Ingleside Avenue.

On the other side, the "south target site," occupied by a vacant Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. of Maryland building, a retail strip and lumberyard, is bounded by Frederick, Mellor and Meadowbrook avenues.

The study's findings were released at a recent community meeting.

It included a telephone survey of area residents and a marketing analysis and concluded that both sites could be developed to support a large anchor store and smaller businesses.

Dottie Swimmer, who owns Plymouth Wallpaper Co. in the 700 block of Frederick Road, said she is enthusiastic about the prospect of a new and improved business district.

Ms. Swimmer said she already has taken advantage of a county program to improve existing businesses' facades. The county provides an architect to advise owners on new facades and the owners can apply for loans of up to $10,000, officials said.

Joe Cholcoat, who owns three 7-Eleven stores in Catonsville, said he sees "tremendous potential" in the area and is eager for development plans to move forward. The latest study is part of several years' effort to get funds from the county for Frederick Road improvements, he said.

"It didn't say anything new from a similar study we had done five years ago," Mr. Cholcoat said. "It was just another hoop the county has made us jump through."

Michael Carey, president of Catonsville 2000, said cooperation will be necessary among owners if the reinvestment in downtown businesses is to be successful.

"It's going to have to be a combination of them and the county," Mr. Carey said.

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