Rebuilding Frederick

Frederick News-Post Editorial Board: Friday, July 10, 2015

Local Editorial 

These are exciting times for downtown Frederick. Our small metropolis has become increasingly diverse over the past couple of decades. It’s no longer just about antique hunting or dining in the occasional restaurant — there’s more to see, more unique shops to buy in, more native art to consider, more theater to attend and more events than ever that would take more space than we have here to list fully.

On Monday, The Frederick News-Post detailed renovation plans for the Monocacy Cannery by developer Bert Anderson, the visionary behind Shab Row and East Street’s revitalization. In recent weeks, we covered the surge of renewed interest in doing something with the long-fallow Carmack-Jay’s property on North Market Street, and plans for a software company to move into the Union Mills building, which fronts Carroll Creek.

These are all positive moves for Frederick’s economy, high points in the city’s ascent.

More is to come, particularly in philanthropy for the arts, which is thriving in the downtown area and could use more room to expand.

On Tuesday, the County Council voted 6-0, with Councilman Billy Shreve abstaining, to sell two East Church Street properties to Marvin Ausherman’s Ausherman Development Corp. II for a $1.45 million cash deal.

Ausherman’s plans for the property sound, in our opinion, outstanding from the early details on offer. Ausherman, according to The News-Post‘s story Wednesday by county reporter Jen Fifield, wants to create a space for artists to live and work, dividing the two buildings into at least 12 units. That space will eventually merge arts activities with another Ausherman-owned property, the old McCrory dime store at 15 W. Patrick St.

That building has long been associated with the arts, at one time as the Cultural Arts Center and home of the Maryland Ensemble Theatre. Now it will become home to the Ausherman Family Foundation’s $1.5 million 15 Square Arts Project as a performing arts center.

“It’s uplifting for the arts community,” Ausherman said. We agree. This will be a big boost to one of the communities that have made Frederick such a compelling place to visit.

The first building at 115 E. Church St. is the old administrative headquarters of Frederick County Public Schools before it moved to new facilities at East and South streets; the second, at 117 E. Church, housed the county’s interagency technologies division, which relocated to Winchester Hall, also on East Church.

The Board of Education will receive about $1.1 million of the $1.45 million sale price, although the amount will be less than that after transaction costs. The other benefit is the county will no longer have to pay $1,400 a month in maintenance on a vacant building.

Ausherman said he’ll have more details on the projects to share in the fall, and will be coordinating with both the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center and Weinberg Center for the Arts. That’s something to look forward to.

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