Developer wants Princess Anne town offices to be anchor on redevelopment project
PRINCESS ANNE — The owner of a half-block in downtown Princess Anne is inviting the Town Commissioners to move their township offices out of cramped Broad Street neighborhoods and become anchor tenants in his Somerset Avenue properties, which will be gutted and built to their specifications to be rebuilt.
Bret Davis of Davis Strategic Development LLC leads the group, which owns the properties from the Office of the Public Defender to Hawks’ Corner, known as the former Hayman Building and Somerset Herald Newspaper offices were completely gutted and reopened last year to accommodate the needs of UMES on the ground floor with three modern apartments on the second floor.
The former offices of Nelson Real Estate and Somerset Hidden Treasures occupy the first floor facade of the units now set to be redeveloped and Mr Davis is proposing that the City become a 10-year leaseholder in one of the two commercial buildings, with the second room is suitable for “small” boutique retail.”
If this agreement is approved, Mr. Davis wishes to purchase City Hall and tear down the metal building for a plan that includes purchasing the Washington Inn & Tavern, building more long-stay rooms, and moving the fire department to a property north of him in downtown and transformed the fire station into a banquet hall managed by UMES.
The city, he said, “would act as a catalyst” for the redevelopment, much like UMES did with Hawks’ Corner when it moved from its previous location on the south-east corner of Prince William Street. His dedication made the renovation possible, and he said another university facility is considering taking over the space next door as well.
Referring to the current city office and small conference room used for work meetings, he said “this facility falls short” and suggests something “much larger and more elegant…. a product that everyone would be proud of.”
Mr Davis has met with City Manager Clayton Anderson about his plans, and the draft plan, which he presented to the commissioners and discussed during their November working session, included a long-term lease that would be based on $13 per square foot, “what’s what.” we calculate UMES” without prepayment.
The space “would be a lot bigger than what you have here,” he said. The buildings are long and narrow with two ground floor apartments currently vacant. They would be integrated into the new office space and create an entrance from the rear parking lot.
Mr Davis said change orders would change the rental price based on “a general framework” with no adjustment that could be requested by the city. He said by comparison, another developer would charge up to $20 per square foot for a similar space.
Mr. Davis said the building’s interiors were being stripped down to the concrete, with one having its foundations ripped out to reconfigure the plumbing.
When complete, there would be around 20 marketable apartments downtown with rents ranging from $1050 to $1200 per month. There are now 11 renovated and occupied units with six to 11 more to be added.
Also under discussion is a possibility of incorporating individual office spaces for local groups such as the Chamber of Commerce to turn it into a community building.
Mr Davis said state tax credits would be used to help fund the project. There is also a facade grant that would be used to demolish the overhanging awnings as part of the restoration of these 1900 buildings.
He said a 10-year lease with the city would recoup construction costs, and the city could buy the building at the end of the lease. He would lease for five years, but that would likely come with an upfront payment from the city for renovation costs.
Mr. Davis estimates that this project would cost up to $1.3 million to complete, adding to the $1.9 million “already put into downtown.” “This will be a very long-term investment,” he said.
The first project of the GmbH was the renovation of the former Marylander and Herald Building next to Independence Hall. It was occupied in 2018 by the public defender’s office, which operated on Prince William Street for many years. From what Mr. Davis said, it’s the nicest public defender’s office in the state, so it would be easy to fill it up with a new tenant when it moves out at the end of its lease.
Mr. Davis said he sent the city’s real estate agent, Henry Hanna, a letter of intent to purchase the Washington Inn, acknowledging it “probably won’t be the highest offer,” but city commissioners should consider the best offer in To consider. The asking price from the city is $1.25 million.
“Anyone who tells you the hotel can be renovated for a few hundred grand is absolutely insane,” he said, estimating it would cost up to $400,000 “just to level the floors.”
He said he would continue running the restaurant for a short time but would find someone else to run it as he would focus on the hotel and build 20 to 40 more rooms mostly for longer stays.
“They don’t have the tourist population for a night or two,” he said, but it’s suitable for someone associated with UMES or Wallops who needs a room for a few months.
The commissioners were encouraged by the options expressed during the presentation, but President Joey Gardner said they would meet with the city manager before making any decisions.
Mr Davis said he would like to start completion in the next 18 months by 2027.
Mr. Davis said he has land next to Dunkin’ Donuts with plans for a mall “and possibly a hotel” plus land in the commercial park that is also available.