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$50M redevelopment of City Dock eyed in Annapolis

Date: Baltimore Business Journal, November 8, 2019, Melody Simmons

Long-standing efforts to turn the Annapolis City Dock into a more park-like setting are inching forward — at last.

A request for qualifications was sent out by the recently formed City Dock Action Committee and the nonprofit Historic Annapolis with a due date of Nov. 20. The request seeks to attract a team of investors, developers, architects and engineers to create an upscale and modern public green space on the waterfront.

"We had 250 people come out to a meeting in May on the future of the City Dock," said Robert Clark, CEO of Historic Annapolis, about the popularity of the mission.

The effort will also add a six-foot flood barrier to the waterfront park that will quell the rising water levels that have plagued the City Dock for years.

"The water is coming at much more of a rapid pace than it has in the past and it’s a storm surge up from the bay into the streets and our shops," said Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, on Friday. The city and Historic Annapolis are working with the U.S. Naval Academy on the flood barrier design so they are compatible, Buckley added.

The City Dock has been a flashpoint for years because of its prime, yet vulnerable, location.

It was named one of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places" in June 2018 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The dock is the heart of the historic downtown area of Annapolis and was the subject of an attempt to rezone certain areas of the Colonial Annapolis Historic District for commercial redevelopment that included a possible high-rise hotel. That move sparked the latest round of work for the redevelopment.

Clark said the City Dock Action Committee was formed this winter and helped shepherd production of the latest set of plans that show replacement of much of the dock's flat-surface parking lot with green space, a wide promenade and waterfront market.

The new dock space would also provide public entertainment space at the nearby Market House.

The overhaul is expected to cost $50 million and early estimates show it could be completed by 2024. Most of the funding would come from a public-private funding deal, federal support and parking revenues in the historic town.

Buckley said the RFQ also seeks a means to finance the redevelopment through revenues created by replacing the Noah Hillman Garage, located off Main Street near the dock. That garage would expand from 425 spaces to 700 and the added revenue would help to underwrite the dock project through the aid of a newly formed local fiscal authority.

"We truly think we can do this without the taxpayer," Buckley said.

Clark said the new dock would rejuvenate the city's historic aura in time for a celebration of signing of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.

"Nobody has ever visited the City Dock and seen water," Clark said. "The cars block the views and there is no reason to go to the dock. It's deteriorated and is not inviting."

Work on the new City Dock project could not begin until a planned replacement of the city-owned Noah Hillman Garage near the structure was finished. That project is in a planning phase now.

Renderings of the new dock and a video were created with the assistance of the Urban Land Institute earlier this year and unveiled to the public at the May meeting. They will be presented to the Annapolis City Council at a Dec. 19 work session.

 

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