Annapolis mayor exploring purchase of two controversial properties

January 14, 2014|By Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun

Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides said Monday he's in the early stages of exploring whether to buy two controversial properties in the city.

Pantelides said he's been approached by residents and activists about buying the Crystal Spring Farm property on the edge of the city as well as the vacant Fawcett Boat Supplies building on the water at City Dock.

Controversial developments have been proposed for both properties. Pantelides said he has his eye on Crystal Spring, a 180-acre property off of Forest Drive that's proposed to have senior living and continuing care units, an inn, an arts center, a shopping center and non-age-restricted town homes.

"If the state and the county pay the majority of the money and it's very nominal to the city, it would be worth looking into further. I would definitely explore that possibility," Pantelides said.

The property's owner, Janet Richardson-Pearson, said the property is not for sale because of the contract it she already has with Marshall Breines, a Connecticut-based developer. "The land is under contract and has been basically sold for the past few years," Richardson-Pearson wrote in an email to The Baltimore Sun on Monday.

The project is awaiting approval from city officials. Richardson-Pearson has touted revisions to the plans that will keep more green space, as well as projects that will reduce stormwater pollution.

Pantelides said one funding source for Crystal Spring could be Program Open Space.

Anne Arundel County generally passes along to the city about 7 percent of the Program Open Space money it receives from the state. For the current year, Anne Arundel received $3.67 million from Program Open Space, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. The money is split between buying land and developing park amenities such as biking trails and sports fields.

Rick Anthony, Anne Arundel's director of recreation and parks, said there's been no discussion of the county helping the city to buy Crystal Spring.

"I haven't had a specific conversation with the administration, but there are opportunities for us to work together," Anthony said.

Regarding the idea of buying the former Fawcett Boat Supplies building at 110 Compromise St. in downtown Annapolis, Pantelides said, "I'm not ruling it in or out."

The property has been vacant since 2010, and a proposal to tear down the building and replace it with a modern, 2-1/2 story building drew protests last summer and the prospective buyer eventually pulled out.

Property co-owner Greg Kaufman said Monday he had "no real comments" on the possibility of the city buying the building. The Fawcett property is valued at $3.21 million for tax purposes, according to state property records. Kaufman's Chandler LLC bought the building in 1998 for nearly $2.49 million.

Pantelides, a Republican, campaigned against the redevelopment of the Fawcett building and against the scale of the Crystal Spring proposal. He defeated former Mayor Josh Cohen, a Democrat who championed the Fawcett project and offered more support for Crystal Spring, by 59 votes.

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