On Monday, the city’s Commission for Historical & Architectural Preservation, or CHAP, will convene in a special meeting at 1 p.m. at City Hall. The first order of business will be to vote to close the meeting to the public.
The only item on the agenda, posted Wednesday on the CHAP website at the city’s Department of Planning, is “personnel matters,” said by sources to be the termination of longtime Executive Director Kathleen G. Kotarba by city Planning Director Thomas J. Stosur.
Kotarba did not return a call for comment.
In an email sent to local preservationists Thursday, Baltimore Heritage Executive Director Johns Hopkins wrote: “While we are reluctant to get involved in a personnel matter at CHAP, we are confident that the effort to fire Ms. Kotarba is directly related to her professional work with CHAP staff and commissioners and fear that it involves recent controversial historic preservation issues.”
Hopkins cited recent controversial battles to preserve the historic Read’s Drug Store at the site of the proposed Superblock where Morgan State University students staged a civil rights sit-in in 1955, and the recent flap over efforts to preserve the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre from demolition.
“As you know, preservation issues are at the forefront of many city-shaping decisions today and we fear that the effort to fire Ms. Kotarba is an attempt to reduce the influence of historic preservation in Baltimore,” Hopkins wrote, urging a flood of protests to City Hall to save her job.
CHAP has been at the center of a debate over the preservation or demolition of the Mechanic. Owings Mills developer Howard Brown has filed for a demolition permit for the theater at Charles and Baltimore streets, but the matter is before the panel because the theater is on the city’s Special List of landmarks, which grants it limited protection from the wrecking ball for at least six months.
A Sept. 11 hearing is scheduled before CHAP based on a proposal to remove the Mechanic from the Special List.
In the meantime, some historic preservationists in the city report that they are whipped into near frenzy over the possibility over Kotarba’s removal and are planning to attend the CHAP meeting, despite its closed status.
CHAP’s members include City Councilman Bill Henry, University of Maryland law professor Larry Gibson, Realtor Cindy Conklin and Charles and Senator Theatre owner James “Buzz” Cusack.
McShea & Co. Inc. recently closed on the sale of a 193,400-square-foot distribution center in a commercial park located at 105 Enterprise Lane in Hagerstown.
The buyer was BNI Properties, of Washington, headed by Nicholas Papadopoulos, who paid $10.2 million for the property from seller MCCB LLC.
The sales team was led by Joe Friedman, and Julian Etches,
The center has 58 loading docks and is located on 30 acres just off of Interstate 81 and Route 40. The center is 95 percent leased. It is the third closing for the investment sales division of McShea & Co. this year.
A $4 million federal grant will be used to help build a new Greyhound Bus Station in southwest Baltimore, set to open next fall.
The city’s Board of Estimates voted to approve a 20-year lease of nearly four acres in the 2100 block of Haines Street to Greyhound at its weekly meeting Wednesday.
The total construction costs of up to $7 million will be partially funded through the grant from the U.S. Transit Administration and Greyhound will pay the additional costs.
The bus station has been located near M&T Bank Stadium off of Russell Street for eight years.
Two new bicycle trails in Catonsville will soon greet cyclists.
Residents there will see an expansion of the Short Line Trail to link with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, as well as a new bike route from UMBC to the Frederick Road business district, funded through a $100,000 grant from the Maryland Bikeways Program, part of the Cycle Maryland Initiative.
“In this era of high gas prices, traffic congestion and a renewed emphasis on physical fitness, bike trails really make sense,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
The Short Line Trail links some of the area’s most well-known landmarks including the Charlestown Retirement Community, the Bloomsbury Community Center, Catonsville and Paradise Village Centers, Maidens Choice Shopping Center and Catonsville High School. ___________________________________________________________________
Realtors are the latest entry into the mobile market. This week, the Creig Northrop Team of Long & Foster Real Estate unveiled a new mobile real estate application designed to display instant, up-to-date details of properties in Maryland and Washington on all mobile platforms such as iPhone, Android and Blackberry.
“Designed for house-hunting on the go, the free real estate app includes a built-in GPS search to view homes for sale near you, or use the advanced search option to find your new home based on your home search criteria no matter where you are,” a promo of the new app says.
Also included in the listing are price, square footage, taxes, estimated mortgage payments, and photos. Browsers can even save the listing to their phones and send it out electronically to friends and family for comment.
TIDBITS: Trout Daniel & Associates recently inked a five-year lease with Owings Mills-based Standard Auto for a fifth location at 49 New Plant Ct. The 11,000-square-foot building was previously a storage facility owned by Douron Inc. … Local firm Floura Teeter Landscape Architects has added two veterans to its team. Director of Sustainability Zolna Russell and Landscape Designer Alex Michael Smith have moved into the Mount Vernon offices at 800 N. Charles St.
FOODIE ALERT: The healthy offerings of the UFood Grill are now for sale at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The new restaurant offers vegetarian, gluten-free casual fare such as paninis, wraps, salads and the curiously named “baked unfries” in a recently opened shop at APG North, where thousands of new employees are now working thanks to BRAC… A new Chipotle Mexican Grill will open in January at Boulevard Place, the former Chadwick Manor Shopping Center, in Woodlawn. The 19-year-old chain has more than 1,300 restaurants globally. Boulevard Place is managed by David S. Brown Enterprises…Former Oriole greats Jim Palmer and Rick Dempsey will help to open The Celebrity Bar & Grill at 1 p.m. this Saturday at the Hollywood Casino Perryville… The mother-daughter owned gourmet catering company Talucci Fine Foods has just signed a five-year lease with Trout Daniel & Associates at 8600 LaSalle Rd. in Towson. Carey & Downey Talucci will soon move into the 1,300-square foot space. Susan A. Wyatt, an associate at Trout Daniel, represented the Taluccis and Matt Lenihan represented building owner St. John Properties Inc.