Decision still pending on Government Center site
Wednesday, 07 August 2013 13:45

No word from county on when choice may come

by Ben Boehl

    As it was in December, the future of the North Point Government Center remains unknown.
    It was announced late last year that the North Point Government Center, along with the Towson Fire Station and Public Works Facility and the Randallstown Police Substation, were slated to be sold, with proceeds from the sales covering the cost of updating other county facilities.

    The Request for Proposal (RFP) requirement for the Government Center site was that the developer selected provide a new recreation center and athletic fields that would take the place of the current facilities at the Government Center.
    The county set a deadline of April 4 for bids; only two companies bid on the  Government Center RFP:  Vanguard Commercial Development, Inc., and Sollers Investors, LLC.
    Baltimore County passed the bids to a nonpolitical committee to look over and see which is best for the community.
    It has been four months since the RFP closed, and Baltimore County spokesperson Ellen Kobler said the county still has not made a decision and does not know when it will be made.
    “We don’t have a decision at this time,” Kobler said.
    According to Kobler, a committee is in contact with the county and they have been unable to make a decision.
    According to the county, four bids have been made on the Towson Fire Station and only one bid on the Randallstown Police Substation.
    When asked if the county will turn up the heat to get the committee to make  a decision faster, Kobler said no.
    “We don’t have  a time limit. We are allowing them to thoroughly look at the proposals,” Kobler added. “We need them to make the best possible decision.”
    Kobler added that if a decision has been reached on one site but not the other, it will not be announced.
    Len Weinberg of Vanguard could not be reached for comment, but his plan called for building a new 22,100-square-foot multipurpose facility on the Church Road side of the property, with the athletic fields intact but upgraded to include bigger backstops on the baseball diamonds and seating for spectators.
    Vanguard would knock down the Government Center and replace it with 44,500 square feet of space, which would include six to seven retail pads on the site.
    The plan for the retail portion of the site could include service providers such as eye, dental and urgent care, according to Weinberg. He told The Eagle in May that Vanguard would try to get a quality restaurant like Panera Bread and an ice cream store such as Cold Stone Creamery.
    Sollers Investors is the other bidder. Its plan calls for the recreation programs and fields at the Government Center to move to the site of the former Seagram’s distillery, owned by John Vontran of Sollers Investors, with the Government Center site becoming a retail center.
    Like the rest of the community, Vontran said he has not heard anything from the county.
    Vontran admitted that he is frustrated waiting for the county’s decision, but said he has a backup plan.
    “If we don’t get the RFP, we are looking into putting apartment buildings [at Seagrams],” Vontran said.
    John Ayres, president of the New Norwood Holabird Community Association, said his group has no comment about the bidders or the length of time the county is taking to make a decision.
    “The NHCA will remain silent and will not engage in debate until we see what the county decides,” Ayres said.