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The building at 110 Compromise St. has sat empty for more than two years, but co-owner Richard Terhorst said it's not because he hasn't had offers.
"I've had banks, restaurants and commerical business all inquire about the site," Terhorst said.
The problem is that the location is zoned for maritime use rather than commercial. That limits the kind of business Terhorst and co-owner Greg Kaufman can rent to.
Once Fawcett Boat Supplies closed, the two men asked the city to re-zone the property commercial.
Nearly a year ago, the city's Planning Commission voted unanimously to allow commercial zoning of the property, but that's where the process came to a halt.
"(City council) just told us they are not going to give us a hearing in July, which means we will be waiting until at least September," Terhorst said. "The legal fees some months run $20,000 and we are well over $200,000 at this point."
He estimated that every month the building goes un-rented, he and Kaufman lose a combined total of around $40,000.
"It's really one of the most frustrating and un-American processes that I've ever been involved with," Terhorst said.
Mayor Josh Cohen said he sympathizes with Terhorst and Kaufman's situation, but the building is a key component of the master plan for the renovation of City Dock.
"It's about a vision," Cohen said. "The area is a historic asset, but it's not being used to its full potential."
Cohen commissioned a 25-member City Dock Advisory Committee (CDAC) in 2010 to study the area that inlcudes City Dock, Compromise Street and Market Space.
The group, along with private consultants hired by the city, presented its first, preliminary ideas about the area at a public meeting Thursday evening.
Alderman Richard Israel (D-Ward 1), whose ward includes the building, said he thinks re-zoning of the property should wait until the CDAC makes a formal recommendation to council this fall.
That concerned Terhorst because "they represent our building as public space and that's misleading."
He also said he's had pushback from Alderman Ross Arnett (D-Ward 2) who, Terhorst said, worries about a domino effect of maritime businesses asking to be re-zoned.
Arnett did not return Patch's request for comment on this story.
Alderman Ian Pfeiffer (D-Ward 7) has a large maritime zone in his district. He said he's concerned about the domino effect because a commercially-zoned property is worth substantially more than one that's zoned maritime.
"My problem with that argument is that they (Kaufman and Terhorst) have been fighting this battle for almost three years," Pfeiffer said.
He thinks the time and cost associated with a re-zoning battle would be a real deterrent. He also said the city code is quite clear about who can qualify.
According to Annapolis code, an owner must prove that the building was incorrectly zoned in the first place or that there has been a substantial change in the neighborhood.
Pfeiffer said the Fawcett building could qualify given the number of commercial buildings that surround it.
"I think if someone wanted to build a hotel in the middle of the marina in my ward, people would say that's a very different dynamic," Pfeiffer said. "I'm certainly concerned about a domino effect, but I'm not sure I buy it."
Terhorst said the re-zoning of his building as maritime in 1987 was a mistake.
He said the building, which had once been a grocery story and a lumber yard, got roped into the maritime zone with the Yacht Club simply because it was a boat shop when the re-zoning took place.
"We have a documented history of non-maritime use going back over 100 years," Terhorst said.
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