Warfield Complex receives grant

Preservation group to give town $24,000 to help develop site

January 07, 2000|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Sykesville's plan to restore the Warfield Complex has won national recognition and a $24,000 grant to help the town get the project started.

Of 439 entries nationwide, 37 earned grants of up to $50,000 from the Save America's Treasures Preservation Planning Fund. Sykesville, a town of 3,500 on the Carroll-Howard county lines, was the only Maryland site to receive a grant.

For almost three years, the town has worked to restore and develop the Warfield Complex, 15 century-old buildings originally part of Springfield Hospital Center.

"The grant will help develop historic district design guidelines for use by occupants, developers of the historic buildings and the Sykesville Historic District Commission," administrators of the trust said.

The town recently annexed the 138-acre site and has proposed using the buildings for a business and academic center. The complex will become part of the town's historic district at the north end of Main Street.

"Warfield is such a wonderful opportunity for the town and this money will really help," Mayor Jonathan S. Herman said. "It is important to point out that, out of the entire country, there were only [37] winners. We are hoping this kind of recognition will help boost our project."

The town, which must match the grant, will use the money to hire a design consultant to create guidelines and covenants for the property's development.

"Guidelines will help us better preserve the buildings' aesthetics and real economic quality," said Town Manager Matthew H. Cand- land. "It will make the entire project attractive and viable."

The state Board of Public Works approved the town's proposal for developing Warfield two years ago. The town then held a weeklong planning session, attended by state and county planners and developers, to plot Warfield's future. They envisioned creation of several hundred jobs and at least two satellite college campuses.

Town residents voted overwhelmingly for the annexation in February. The mayor has vowed that town taxpayers will not bear the burden of developing Warfield. But the town has been stymied in its efforts to win state and county funding for the effort.

Planning money was cut from the state budget in the last hours of the 1999 General Assembly. Sykesville is negotiating with the county for industrial development money for Warfield.

The property's location -- along Route 32, near Interstate 70 -- makes it convenient for business and industry. The town has said potential tenants exist for almost all of the space and has plans for building an 88-room hotel.

The trust released the grant information yesterday and the town immediately sent invitations for its ceremony at 11 a.m. Jan. 15 at Warfield.

"This was a very competitive process," said Susanna French, media coordinator for the National Trust of Historic Preservation. "These were all official projects of Save America's Treasures and all great projects."

Among the recipients are the Angel Island Immigration Station near San Francisco and the Lewis & Clark campsite near Bitterroot Mountain Range in Montana.

"This is a very prestigious award and we beat out at least eight other sites in Maryland," Candland said. "It really furthers our effort here to keep this project going. We are excited and will continue moving forward."

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