Monday, January 31, 2011
A Couple Comments on Downtown Revitalization, Preservation, Baltimore and the LeCates Building
If you, as a home owner, had your property in that shape for as long as the Lecates building has been in the shape it is in, the town would have torn it down, simple as that. Yet this building continues and I have heard of nothing in the way of fines being levied against the owner.
There was a discussion about someone buying the building and renovating it into a restaurant etc but that has dragged on for so long I think it is myth.
The building is historical in the sense of it's age. Over the years it has been occupied by food stores, coffee shops, liquor stores, jewelry stores and even a murder committed in it. If actually purchased would it really be an economic development and a historic preservation or would it become another problem the taxpayers of Delmar would be faced with due to the lack of downtown parking? Perhaps a parking lot is the best use for this spot in Delmar.
Not to compare Delmar to Baltimore and Salisbury, but Baltimore like Salisbury always has a downtown revitalization going on. The most recent Baltimore project is the Super Block, on West Side it is bounded by Howard, Fayette and Lexington streets and Park Avenue. This project came to a grinding haul when Afro-American groups realized the the former Reads Drug Store at the corner of Lexington and Howard Streets (now empty and city owned) was going to be torn down. The building claim to being historically significant is the role it played as being the spot where on January 20, 1955, Dean McQuay Kiah of Morgan State University, along with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and a group of Morgan students staged a sit-in at this location to protest the racial segregation of Read’s lunch counters. The sit-in led to the desegregation of the entire Read’s chain throughout the region and helped provide a model that guided later and better known student-led sit-ins in places like Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1960.
These groups are now singing the historic restoration song. They feel the Read's Drug Store should be turned into a museum (at taxpayers expense of course). They should have sung the historic restoration song long ago before the building started to crumble, but apparently developers are the impetus for preservationists to come alive. Those of us on the Eastern Shore don't expect any better from Baltimore but to be a drain on the taxpayers of Maryland. Those of us in Delmar can only hope that the Lecates building is not another drain on the taxpayers and that the council will eventually do what they were elected to do and force the owner of building to fix it or tear this eyesore and safety hazard down. They could also fine him for each day it stays in this condition and bring some money into the town.
One thing that stood out to me was even back in 1958 when this murder happened, you couldn't seem to get Delmar police to answer the phone.
Some things never change, do they?
I wholeheartedly agree with you on the LeCates building and it should just be torn down and used for parking. I wonder if the taxes are even being paid on this property since it seems "deals" may be being cut with this so-called owner. If this was my property, the town of Delmar would have been all over it!
I don't even know if the town knows who owns it at this point. They've been given and have given the runaround on this building for a long time!