Council considers parking projects Panel to finalize deal to buy site for new lot, apply for garage loan

November 09, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Three projects to boost Westminster's downtown business district are on the Common Council's agenda tonight.

The council plans to apply for a loan to finance its share of a parking garage at the former Farmers Supply Co. site; complete the purchase of Southern States Cooperative Inc. property for use as a parking lot; and secure one of the few green areas downtown for use as a small park with a local business directory and kiosk.

The council will meet at 7 p.m. in the first-floor meeting room at City Hall.

Additional parking is key to the city's efforts to revitalize its business district.

An office and retail complex planned by Carroll County Bank & Trust Co. on the former Farmers Supply Co. property at Liberty and West Green streets will include a 200-space parking garage. The complex, viewed as the cornerstone of downtown revitalization, will cost $4 million to $6 million.

Westminster, which has committed $1.5 million to the parking garage, may borrow $800,000 to $1 million through a state Department of Housing and Community Development loan program. The program allows Maryland towns to borrow at lower interest rates than they could obtain on their own.

Thomas B. Beyard, city planning and public works director, said the loan will depend on the the garage's size, which has not been determined.

Bank officials had hoped to move the operations division into the new offices by October next year, but have postponed the move by about five months.

Planning took longer than expected, and bank officials decided that if they couldn't move by next fall, the move should be rescheduled for spring 2000, said Michael L. Oster, the bank's president and chief executive officer.

More than parking

The scheduled acquisition of the 1.15-acre Southern States Cooperative property on Railroad Avenue, two blocks north of Main Street, would provide additional parking. Councilman Stephen R. Chapin said it could become a parking lot and more.

The city will buy the property for $151,760 and plans to raze a former fertilizer plant on the site.

Chapin suggested Westminster could rebuild the passenger train station near Main and Liberty streets as a tourism center.

"That is a long-term vision. I think what we need to do is sit down and have a vision for all that property before we start putting in meters," Chapin said.

'A downtown commons'

The city will buy and landscape a .05-acre grassy plot on East Main Street at Locust Lane walkway.

Acquisition of the plot from the heirs of the late Herman M. Rosenberg -- owner of the property that became Locust Lane shops -- will give the city control of one of the few green areas downtown.

"Small as it is, it's still important because it's still the crossroads from the library," said Chapin, who has been active in downtown revitalization since he helped form the Greater Westminster Development Corp. in 1994.

The grass plot, which has a few shrubs and one tree, "has sort of been just a little hole in the eight years I've been on the council," Chapin said.

He lobbied Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan for better landscaping, but the city's hands were tied until Rosenberg family members agreed to sell the property to the city for $16,500.

City officials plan to landscape the plot and install a business directory and kiosk.

"What we hope is that this would become like a downtown commons," Beyard said.

He said the space could be used for small events in summer.

Pub Date: 11/09/98

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