City Dock is the crown jewel of Annapolis. Annapolitans cherish its authentic colonial scale, openness to the water and historic charm. For more than two years, a community-led process has been developing a vision and plan to make City Dock more vibrant and walkable while preserving the qualities that make the area so special.
One of the key areas the community has identified for improvement is 110 Compromise Street, known as the former Fawcett building. The fact that it is private property has stood in the way of achieving a key community goal to establish public open space along the waterfront. In addition, the building is positioned in a way that obstructs the historic vista of Main Street.
Recently a team of investors led by Mark Ordan signed a purchase agreement with the owners of 110 Compromise Street. The Ordan team was enthusiastic about implementing the community’s vision of creating public open space along the waterfront and opening up views of Main Street, all without spending a dime of taxpayer money. For the past several weeks Mr. Ordan’s architects and engineers worked diligently to develop draft plans. They spent considerable time meeting individually with alderpersons, residents and businesspersons in order to design a project that our entire community would be proud of. Most notably, in response to community concerns about loss of parking, Ordan’s team made the decision to build an underground parking deck despite significant added expense.
Mr. Ordan invited several community leaders to an open house last Wednesday to review the initial draft plans for the property and offer suggestions. He was as surprised as I was when he learned that many of these individuals chose instead to stage a press conference the day before the open house to protest plans they hadn’t even seen.
Instead of offering ideas to improve the design, this coalition calling themselves ”Save Annapolis” chose obstruction. They offered no alternative proposal or solution to revitalize 110 Compromise Street, instead playing on emotions and hyperbole to simply reject any change.
Last Thursday evening, Ordan’s team continued their public presentation of plans before the City’s Historic Preservation Commission for review and feedback. They had scheduled another public open house for this evening. Unfortunately, upon learning that the Coalition simply planned more protests instead of dialogue, Ordan’s team made the understandable decision to pull out. Mr. Ordan called me yesterday to express his regret at this lost opportunity that we both believed would have offered a welcome shot in the arm for downtown.
Let me make it very clear: Save Annapolis has saved nothing except a cinderblock eyesore in the floodplain that has sat vacant for years, blocking the historic vista of lower Main Street and blocking public access along the water.
110 Compromise Street is private property. The only way that our community will realize any public benefit on that property is by working collaboratively with a willing property owner. Many residents and businesspersons recognize this and are as disappointed and perplexed as I am by the stance of these groups who are supposed to look out for the best interests of our town.
Last week, before Mr. Ordan pulled out, I requested a meeting with the Save Annapolis steering committee which is still scheduled for this afternoon. I remain committed to seeking a solution for this property, and will call on Save Annapolis to come together with supporters of this proposal and seek common ground. It is fitting that this property is located on Compromise Street, because compromise is what we need. Not obstruction, not protests, but a collaborative effort to achieve a shared goal of revitalizing this blighted property in the heart of downtown.
Despite yesterday’s setback, I will seek to bring our community together to keep working toward that goal.