"Fisher renovations approved by city," Gazette.net, July 24, 2008.Frederick, Maryland
Historic commission praises efforts to preserve 1880s structure
by Keith L. Martin | Gazette Net Staff Writer
It took 24 years for the Fisher Building to find a suitor willing to take on its rehabilitation. It took only 27 minutes last week to formally begin that process.
Frederick’s Historic Preservation Commission unanimously approved plans to rehabilitate the three-level former warehouse next to the Carroll Creek Parking Deck on Creek Side Alley. In June, the city and Fitzgerald’s Heavy Timber Construction of Thurmont signed a contract turning over the building to the renovation specialists with a deadline of December 2009.
The city bought the building which dates back to the 1880s in 1984 as part of the construction of the parking deck, but it sat unused and deteriorated to the point that Frederick’s Code Enforcement Division twice deemed it structurally unsound. Now, it is slated for rebirth as an office building, a process Fitzgerald’s knows will be daunting.
‘‘We are very pleased to be passed this stage of the process, we are looking forward to starting our work on the building itself, Dean Fitzgerald, president⁄CEO of the company, said in an e-mail to The Gazette. ‘‘However we still have multiple agencies to get approvals from prior to having a clear working path ahead of us.”
The commission agreed with the majority of proposed plans for the building at its July 16 hearing. Though the city’s historic planners recommended the building have a synthetic slate roof, Fitzgerald presented a 1929 overhead photo of the neighborhood, indicating the building had a metal roof. He wished to stay true to that history, and the commission agreed.
The only point of disagreement came regarding a pair of large wooden doors at the building’s entrance. Fitzgerald wanted to preserve those doors inside for a closet, but due to damage, commission members wanted them to remain at the front entrance.
Fitzgerald claimed extensive work on mechanisms to operate the doors and a panel to cover its top windows would hinder the doors’ rehabilitation.
‘‘You’d do so much to them, you’d technically lose the baby in the bathwater,” he said. ‘‘It is like using George Washington’s hammer to drive nails. You don’t do that.”
Commissioner Dale Dowling said the group assumed the doors would be rehabilitated as is. ‘‘There are materials to help restore [them], so I think you need to take a shot at the repair.”
In the end, the commission voted unanimously for the renovation with the roof change, door repair, the transformation of a wooden front loading dock to a concrete one and other conditions.
‘‘Thank you for taking this project on,” Dowling said.
Fitzgerald said the company hopes to attain its stabilization permit this week and then has a series of permits to receive, including building and plumbing, and assessments ranging from fire code to accessibility.
Another unique feature of the renovation will be the possible inclusion of a geothermal heating and air conditioning system using ground heat for energy.
‘‘We hope to make this building into a very energy efficient structure ... that will mean a great advantage to the tenant in energy savings and in user comfort,” Fitzgerald said.
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Frederick's Historic Preservation Commission unanimously approved plans to rehabilitate the three-level former warehouse.