As originally seen in the Baltimore Sun on 3/23/2015.
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman is hoping to sell off several county properties, including the former Columbia Flier building on Little Patuxent Parkway, to raise some extra money for the school system’s budget next fiscal year.
Kittleman asked the County Council Thursday for its approval to sell four county properties, three of which were bought just last year under former County Executive Ken Ulman.
The Flier building, purchased in July 2014, had been slated to become the new headquarters for the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, the business incubator run by the county’s Economic Development Authority. It sold for $2.8 million, but a March report from Kittleman’s transition team revealed it would cost $7.5 million to renovate.
“I do not believe that spending three times the purchase price on renovations is fiscally prudent,” Kittleman wrote Thursday in a letter to County Council Chairwoman Mary Kay Sigaty explaining his request to sell the property.
Kittleman is also proposing to sell the Bickley residence, a house at 8518 Frederick Rd. in Ellicott City and the Hurst properties, at 9770 and 9790 Washington Blvd. in North Laurel. Kittleman is also asking that a resolution to dispose of a fourth property, the Maryland Environmental Services building at 7101 Dorsey Run Rd. in Jessup — which has been on hold since last year — be approved.
The money the county recuperates by selling the properties would go towards purchasing a site for a thirteenth public high school, and could also be used to unlock state matching funds for school construction, Kittleman wrote.
According to the letter, a “conservative estimate” places the value of all four properties at at least $4 million. The total cost the county spent on the properties was about $5.8 million.
The Bickley and Hurst properties were not purchased for public use, which makes them ineligible for tax-exempt bonds, according to Kittleman’s letter.
The Bickley residence is an historic mill house on Ellicott City’s West End, which has a history of issues with flooding, and the Hurst properties, which for many years housed an antiques store, are on Route 1 next to the Beechcrest mobile home park, which had been slated for redevelopment as an efficiency apartments complex for the homeless before community protests shut down that plan.
Kittleman said a buyer with a right of first refusal to the Jessup property — which the county bought for $594,974 in September 2012 — had agreed to a $700,000 purchase price, and he urged the council to approve the resolution to “mitigate the loss of funds to the county.”
“Continuing to own these four properties is not a fiscally prudent option,” he wrote.
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