Bid to block 7-Eleven in Mount Vernon falls short

November 25, 2008|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,

A Mount Vernon group says it has failed to prevent a 7-Eleven from opening in a former restaurant overlooking the Washington Monument.

City agencies, cultural groups and neighbors pledged $297,000 toward an effort to buy the building and stop the convenience store, but R. Paul Warren, who organized the effort, said his group stopped making offers when the price reached $450,000.

"We reached our limit," Warren said. "We raised $300,000 in three weeks. That's not bad."

Gregory N. Friedman, a real estate investor-broker, bought the former Buttery restaurant on the ground floor of a 19th-century building at Charles and Centre streets this year for $310,000. He tried unuccessfully to market it to local restaurateurs.

Friedman said he was negotiating with 7-Eleven officials, who want to open an operation with an ATM and retail services they say are not available to the immediate neighborhood on a 24-hour basis. The convenience store is also being called an amenity for Peabody Institute students.

"They approached me and made an offer. The offer the Mount Vernon group made was not acceptable to me," Friedman said. "And I strongly disagree that the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association represents the views of all the residents in the area."

Warren said he believes the convenience store would become a "24-hour magnet for drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps and their clients, and prisoners released nearby every day, and for the clients of the proposed homeless shelter just three blocks away at Centre and the Fallsway."

Nancy Wade, a 7-Eleven official, strongly disagreed. "We have 7-Elevens all over downtown Baltimore, and we believe they are good neighbors," she said. "The Peabody students tell us they have to walk several blocks to use an ATM. We hope to provide a service to these students."

Peabody Institute spokesman Richard Selden said, "We are distressed the space has been vacant for so long. We are also not taking a position on the issue."

In a statement, Selden said the school was "unable to make a direct investment beyond our current footprint."

Warren praised Deputy Mayor Andy Frank for arranging pledges of $92,000 from three city agencies. He said Mount Vernon home and business owners then made pledges in excess of $150,000.

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