The Calvert County commissioners will soon have a new decision on their plates — what to do about the former National Guard Armory in Prince Frederick.
The commissioners discussed how to proceed with the circa-1954 building during a work session on July 14.
After some discussion, they decided to let staff — namely Kirsti Uunila, the county’s historic preservation planner — bring back more detailed information on available options during another work session.
County administrator Mark Willis mentioned several options for the building, which the Prince Frederick Volunteer Fire Department has been using until its new building is finished in January. Those options included using it as a Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs building, designating it for the Calvert County Historic District, applying for a National Register of Historic Places designation or using it as a government administration building.
According to a staff report from Uunila, a Calvert County Historic District designation would help ensure the preservation of the building’s exterior and enable a private party to take advantage of tax credits to maintain it.
Listing it in the National Register of Historic Places would make property owners eligible for federal historic preservation tax credits that can be used for rehabilitation.
“It needs to be stabilized one way or the other,” Commissioner Thomas E. “Tim” Hutchins (R) said.
Willis said that $250,000 in the county’s capital improvements plan would be enough to pay for abatement of lead and asbestos in the building.
There are a lot of factors limiting what it can be used for if the design of the building cannot be changed, Commissioner Earl F. “Buddy” Hance (R) said.
Charles B. Tovell constructed the armory in 1953 and 1954, a board document states. It was intended to serve the community as a gathering place in peacetime and as a government and military staging facility in times of disaster, war or civil unrest. Over the years, the building served as a school, housed civic offices and was a venue for large events.
On March 10, the commissioners voted to sell 12.5 acres across from the old armory for $3.87 million. Westmoreland Properties of Washington, D.C., and Generation Properties LLC of Dunkirk planned to study what to do with the property over 60 days. That study was affected by the advent of the COVID-19 virus, however.
County commissioners recently voted to give the companies an extension.
Kelly Robertson-Slagle, Calvert’s economic development director, said in March that preliminary plans called for 125,500 square feet of new commercial development at the property, including a medical office.