Schmoke tells BICC it may lose building Mayor says school must fix Little Italy structure or city will try to take it back

November 07, 1996|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke yesterday issued an ultimatum to Baltimore International Culinary College: Renovate the old No. 2 school in Little Italy or give the building back to the city.

"We sold the school to BICC to expand the college and enhance the community," Schmoke said yesterday at a city Board of Estimates hearing. "No one expected there to be this vacant eyesore for as long as it has been -- eight or nine years. If the college is not going to renovate the school, we will do everything in our power to take it back."

The culinary college bought the No. 2 school on Central Avenue from the city for $2 million in 1989 and promised to renovate the building. The mayor and Little Italy residents are upset because that pledge has not been fulfilled, even though the city amended the sale agreement two years ago -- reducing the price to $60,000 -- so that the college could obtain loans from the state for the renovations.

"If college officials had not promised to renovate the building, we would not have sold it to them. Yet despite repeated requests, they have not shown me any renovation plans," said real estate officer Anthony J. Ambridge. He was asked in August to review the sale contracts after residents complained that the college was charging students to park in the lot at the No. 2 school, in violation of the amended sale agreement.

According to city records, the Board of Estimates decided in 1994 that the lot was to be used free by students of the college, and on agreed dates by the community and nearby St. Leo's Roman Catholic Church.

However, the amended sale agreement did not include the condition in writing, which means it may not be binding.

"The language regarding the parking issue seems to contradict itself," Ambridge said. "However, it is clear that the college has an obligation to renovate the building by March 23, 1998. And frankly, I don't see how they're going to be able to do it. Time is running out."

Rodney Fields, vice president of academic and student services at the college, told board members that part of the building would be renovated for instructional purposes by 1998.

"We are working with a contractor to find out how much it will cost to renovate the building," said Fields, who was the only staff member from the culinary college to attend the hearing. "We are waiting for his estimates."

Schmoke said he wanted "action, not words" and advised Fields to tell the president of the culinary college, Roger Chylinski, to get in touch with Ambridge immediately to discuss in detail BICC's renovation plans for school No. 2 "or we will take action to get that building back."

Pub Date: 11/07/96

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