News - Warfield at Historic Sykesville

Limited Time to Let your Voice be Heard

Thanks to all who attended Tuesday night’s public hearing on the zoning text amendment for Warfield. There is still time to submit your comments to the town for the record and for their consideration. See below for details.

It is clear that many of you still have questions and concerns about the project. We at Warfield remain eager to get you more information, develop a common understanding of the facts through respectful public discourse, and help the community develop a full understanding of the project and its potential. This includes solutions to help address key issues like schools and public services, traffic, natural resources, and impacts on Main Street and other businesses.

We were disappointed that public engagement was not encouraged when our proposal was referred to the Planning Commission in January, and that the Planning Commission was not allowed to evaluate our proposal fully and develop a more detailed analysis and recommendation to the Mayor and Town Council in advance of a public hearing. Among other things, the lack of due process took away the public’s voice and denied the developer the ability to hear valuable feedback, address concerns, and perhaps even make adjustments to its proposal and approach.

In short, Tuesday night’s public hearing was premature, and so is the scheduled vote on our proposal at the regularly scheduled Town Council meeting on Monday, May 9th at 7:00 PM.

OUR REQUEST OF YOU: Please write the Town and ask for a deferral on the Town Council vote, and referral of Warfield’s proposal back to the Planning Commission for a full and fair hearing to allow continued community participation in the process. Many of you expressed a desire for a more civil and productive discourse between the Town and developer. We believe that the Planning Commission is the venue for such a discussion that also encourages continued citizen and merchant involvement.

Please send emails to town@sykesville.net by 5:00 PM on Monday, May 9th. Be sure to include your name and address in the email. Feel free to copy us at info@historicwarfield.com.

View the full public hearing here:

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carrollmediacenter/videos/713666469820756

On YouTube: https://youtu.be/ef9LAkoZPXo

Access documents related to the zoning request here:

https://ws.onehub.com/folders/x3np2wnb

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Join Us on May 3rd to Support Preservation and Economic Development

After over two decades of vacancy and decline, we are on the verge of saving the historic buildings at Warfield at Historic Sykesville. Warfield Companies has successfully identified $36 million in state and federal tax credits and other incentives to make the preservation of this important historic resource a reality, and unlock massive economic activity and expansion of the tax base in the Town of Sykesville and Carroll County.

Warfield filed a Zoning Text Amendment in December 2021. Among other things, this zoning request proposes shifting much of the previously approved development density from commercial to residential uses. The zoning change is needed to access the above-mentioned package of incentives and finally set the Warfield project in motion in a meaningful way.

Sykesville’s Mayor and Town Council have scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022 to consider Warfield’s zoning request. As part of the public hearing process, the Town Council will take public comments on the proposal. Roger Conley and I respectfully request that you come out on May 3rd to show your support for our proposal and the Warfield project.

In recent months, much misinformation and disinformation have been circulated about the zoning request and the project. To give all constituencies a more complete and accurate picture of Warfield, we will keep “virtual office hours” for the next several days to answer questions and provide additional information you may need to better understand the zoning proposal and the project.

If you wish to schedule a time to ask questions, get a project update, and better understand how you can help, please email info@historicwarfield.com and provide your availability for a Zoom call. Daytime, evening, and weekend slots are available. We are happy to accommodate individuals and small groups. We encourage you to reach out no matter how you feel about the project based on the information you have heard to date.

Significance of Zoning Change

A shift from commercial to residential density is necessary to preserve Warfield’s historic buildings, as it will allow us to access over $36 million in state and federal incentives to cover excess costs associated with environmental remediation and the high cost of historic preservation. The proposed shift in density will also accelerate the project, which has been stagnant for over two decades. This new approach will result in the significant expansion of the Town’s and Carroll County’s tax bases, substantial economic benefits to the community that will endure for decades, and a substantial increase in state, federal, and private investment in the community.

The current zoning already allows for close to 600,000 square feet of commercial density and 181 residential units. Warfield’s proposal does not ask for additional density but, rather, a shift in density from commercial to residential to reflect market conditions and the ability to finance the project. In essence, Warfield’s proposal will result in a less intense development in the long term, particularly in terms of strain on roads, parking, and water/sewer capacity.

Important Legal and Administrative Developments

The merits of the zoning proposal and Warfield project aside, we feel it is vital to inform the public about Warfield’s serious concerns about how the Town has managed the review and approval process.

Beginning with the original Zoning referral to the Sykesville Planning Commission on January 24th, 2022, the conduct of the Mayor and certain other town officials towards the proposal is troubling. The Planning Commission has not been allowed to conduct an independent review and evaluation of the zoning proposal. There seems clear evidence of undue influence evidenced by, among other things, private off-record communications by and between the Mayor and other town officials, denial of fair due process, a lack of transparency, including failure to pass along key information and correspondence to Town Council members and Planning Commission members, and violations of the Maryland Open Meetings Act. The process we have observed raises serious legal and ethical concerns for which there must be corrective action at a minimum.

As an initial response to the Town’s actions noted above, Warfield Companies and the Maryland Building Industry Association have filed an Open Meetings Act complaint with the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board. The Town must respond to this complaint within 30 days.

In addition, Warfield has requested information from the Town under the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA), which also requires a response from the Town in 30 days. Among other things, the purpose of this request is to access town communications to investigate the concerns noted above. Finally, Warfield’s legal counsel has requested that the Town preserve all records connected to the Warfield development in preparation for possible additional administrative and legal action.

However, the most important request we have made of the Town is to meet with us about our concerns and take immediate corrective action to restore fairness to the process. This likely includes referral of our application back to the Planning Commission with appropriate instructions to complete their evaluation, report, and recommendation to the Mayor and Town Council, with the understanding that the Planning Commission is an independent body constituted by and subject to state law.

Please come out on May 3rd to let the Mayor and Town Council know that you support maintaining fair, ethical, and transparent processes in general, as well as referral of Warfield’s zoning proposal back to the Planning Commission for a full and fair evaluation.

Access to Documents and Correspondence

Warfield Companies has created a virtual data room containing important correspondence and other documents related to the zoning proposal and pending actions. These documents are public information and can be accessed via the following link:

https://ws.onehub.com/folders/x3np2wnb

We look forward to hearing from you, hearing your feedback, and answering your questions.

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Company Hopes to Bring Life Back to Historic Area

BY MADISON BATEMAN | Carroll County Times | January 25, 2022

 

Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville to be repurposed into residential, office and park space

The Warfield Companies received a $15 million state tax credit for its ongoing project to redevelop the historic Warfield Complex, a former state hospital site in Sykesville, into a mixed-use community. Dylan Slagle/Carroll County Times

 

The historic Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville will soon be rehabilitated and repurposed into a residential and commercial hub, serving the local community while also preserving county open space.The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development this week announced Warfield Companies would be the first recipient of Maryland’s Catalytic Revitalization Tax Credit, designed to help fund rehabilitation of formerly government-owned properties for economic and community development purposes.

The company received a $15 million state tax credit for its ongoing project to redevelop a former mental health facility in Sykesville and the surrounding area into a mixed-use community. Warfield at Historic Sykesville is anchored by historic buildings dating to the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was used by the Springfield Hospital Center until the early 2000s. Formerly owned by the state, the 12 buildings carry historical designations from the National Park Service and Maryland Historical Trust.

Three of the historic buildings have already been restored and are occupied by commercial tenants. The remaining nine buildings will be repurposed in a variety of ways to meet the needs of future tenants, with some combination of residential, office, light industrial, retail and park space.
This project is expected to include a housing component, as well as a multipurpose space that will serve local residents.

“The redevelopment at Warfield presents a once in a lifetime opportunity for the people of Sykesville to preserve a piece of their heritage by transforming the former Springfield Hospital Center into a residential and commercial hub that will enhance the local community, while preserving prime and productive
Carroll County farmland and open space,” Kenneth C. Holt, secretary of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, said in a news release.

Passed in the 2021 General Assembly session and signed into law by Gov. Larry Hogan, Senate Bill 885 created the Catalytic Revitalization Tax Credit. The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Katie Fry Hester, a Democrat who represents District 9 in Carroll and Howard counties.
The credit is designed to support the rehabilitation and renovation of properties formerly owned by the state or federal governments, including colleges or universities, public schools, hospitals, mental health facilities and military facilities or installations. These properties usually have been vacant for a significant time and often require mitigation of various environmental and health hazards.

“I am thrilled that a community in my district will benefit, and serve as a model for other projects around the state,” Hester wrote in an op-ed to the Carroll County Times. “In Warfield’s example, economic projections indicate a fiscal benefit of $29 million over 20 years for our local schools, health department and the Town of Sykesville. … These millions of dollars represent new revenues generated that can be reinvested in the local community or directed to keep taxes low. Furthermore, the project is expected to create approximately 233 permanent and 69 temporary jobs and generate roughly $40.8 million in economic output over the next 20 years.”

The tax credit was a recommended action that came from a study conducted by the Maryland Department of Planning and is designed to fill financing gaps between the cost of rehabilitation and the market-rate value of the redeveloped property. Proposed revitalization projects related to the rehabilitation of these government-owned properties must foster economic growth, job creation, affordable housing or other community improvements and services.

“For the first time in nearly 30 years, preservation and restoration of the Warfield complex appears within reach,” Hester wrote. “Other deteriorating state properties — like Crownsville Hospital Center in Anne Arundel County, Glenn Dale Hospital in Prince George’s County, or Bainbridge in Cecil County — need help transforming into new, vibrant and socially beneficial local spaces.”

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Sen. Katie Fry Hester: Warfield Complex can be a model for state investment in preservation projects

Sen. Katie Fry Hester: Warfield Complex can be a model for state investment in preservation projects

By Katie Fry Hester | Carroll County Times | Jan 26, 2022

Across Maryland, a number of former government complexes sit vacant, and have become a large expense for Maryland’s taxpayers. In Anne Arundel County, for example, since the Crownsville Hospital Center was closed in 2004, the state has spent more than $2 million annually to keep it mothballed, secure, and mowed — despite the fact that many of the buildings on the campus are ideal candidates for reuse. Without a plan in place or the resources to spur reuse, stories like this are all too common across the state.

Thankfully, this approach is finally about to change. This year we may see the stars align for Maryland’s historic infrastructure. In the context of a $2 billion state surplus and the recently passed federal infrastructure bill, this year we will also see the state Department of Housing and Community Development award the first Catalytic Tax Credit — aimed at spurring private sector investment in these types of resources and reducing long-term government expense. At the same time, state Sen. Cory McCray, Del. Eric Luedtke and myself have introduced legislation to increase funding for the Historic Revitalization Tax Credit Program to meet the statewide need for rehabilitating older structures — which in turn gives local economies a sustainable and long-term boost. Now is the time to invest in Maryland and leverage the embedded value of our historic buildings to catalyze our future economic growth.

Shortly after my election in 2018, I became familiar with Warfield at Historic Sykesville, which is a textbook example of this plight. In 2019, I sponsored legislation requiring the Maryland Department of Planning to study the obstacles to preserving and rehabilitating these properties. Cumulatively, the recommendations in the report from this study create a strategic road map for entrepreneurial historic preservation. The primary issue identified by the study was that the cost of restoring and returning these campuses to service typically exceeds their expected market value upon rehabilitation. Neither the government nor the private sector can do this alone — a partnership is necessary — and this is what the original historic tax credit program was supposed to do.

At the height of the program, Maryland invested nearly $80 million annually. Unfortunately, Maryland capped the historic tax credit program in 2002, requiring an annual appropriation in the state’s PAYGO capital budget. Since then, this program has lost nearly 90% of its funding — last year’s budget provided only $9 million for historic preservation and rehabilitation. With each project capped at $3 million, the amount of support Maryland is able to give is embarrassingly low. For comparison, neighboring Virginia invests nearly $100 million annually in its historic tax credit program, and West Virginia funds its historic tax credit programs at $30 million.

As a result of this study, I sponsored and secured passage of Senate Bill 885 to establish the Catalytic Revitalization Tax Credit — which bridges the gap by enabling the state to issue a tax credit up to $15 million every two years to a qualifying property. Warfield at Historic Sykesville will be the first project to receive this award!

I am thrilled that a community in my district will benefit and serve as a model for other projects around the state. In Warfield’s example, economic projections indicate a fiscal benefit of $29 million over 20 years for our local schools, health department, and the Town of Sykesville. This money represents new revenue that can be reinvested in the local community or directed to keep taxes low. Furthermore, the project is expected to create approximately 233 permanent and 69 temporary jobs and generate roughly $40.8 million in economic output over the next 20 years.

For the first time in nearly 30 years, preservation and restoration of the Warfield complex appears within reach, and I believe that it has the capacity to serve as a statewide model for fiscally responsible state investment in community development. Other deteriorating state properties — like Crownsville Hospital Center, Glenn Dale Hospital in Prince George’s County, or the former Bainbridge naval base in Cecil County — need help transforming into new, vibrant, and socially beneficial local spaces.

Both the Catalytic Revitalization Tax Credit and the historic tax credit are powerful tools for investing in our communities and bolstering our economy. The economic benefits associated with preservation have been well documented. According to a report by the Abell Foundation, every $1 of tax credits issued through the Historic Revitalization Tax Credit program generates $8.13 of economic activity, and a tax credit program funded at just $15 million would spur the creation of nearly 800 jobs over its construction period.

Now is the time to recapitalize our prior investments. We’ve passed the Catalytic Revitalization Tax Credit and we can raise the cap on our historic tax credit. These programs provide a clear path to simultaneously preserve our local history, protect our environment, and revitalize our communities for the benefit of current and future Marylanders.

Sen. Katie Fry Hester, a Democrat, represents District 9 in Carroll and Howard counties.

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Hogan Administration Announces the First Catalytic Revitalization Tax Credit Award

Hogan Administration Announces the First Catalytic Revitalization Tax Credit Award
NEW CARROLLTON, MD (January 24, 2022) – The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development announced the first recipient of the State of Maryland’s Catalytic Revitalization Tax Credit, designed to rehabilitate formerly government-owned properties for economic and community development purposes. The Warfield Companies received a $15 million state tax credit for their ongoing project to redevelop a historic mental health facility and surrounding area in Sykesville into a mixed-use community.

 

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