Cohen Seeks Proposals On Market House

| February 15, 2011 | 16 Comments

The following press release was just issued by Annapolis City Hall:

Annapolis, Md. (02-15-11) – At the behest of the proposed operator of the Market House, Mayor Joshua J. Cohen announces the City has agreed to set aside the proposed lease and, in the interest of openness and transparency, establish a formal bidding process for the operation of the historic downtown market.

With Mayor Cohen preparing to call a final vote of the City Council last night on the Market House lease, he agreed to end the City’s partnership with Gone to Market LLC earlier in the day at the behest of Lehr Jackson, a principal of the Baltimore-based developer of markets.

The Mayor has instructed City staff to create a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) process for the operation of the 5,000-square-foot space at the foot of City Dock. All proposals will be ranked and reviewed objectively by a panel of City officials. The parameters for the bidding process are being developed, and the release of the RFP is expected within the next few week.  Mr. Jackson informed the Mayor that Gone to Market will make a bid.

“My priority, and the priority of the City Council, is to reclaim the Market House as a vibrant gathering place for our community, as an authentic part of our historic fabric, and as an economic engine for downtown,” Mayor Cohen said.

“Although the votes were there to pass the lease last night, we will press the reset button on the selection process for the Market House operator,” Mayor Cohen said. “Establishing a new, objective bidding process will allow for a more transparent selection process, and in so doing should achieve a broader consensus of support among the City Council. This support will be critical, because whoever ends up operating the Market House will need the full and enthusiastic support of our community and the City Council to be successful.”

Last night, the City Council approved a $500,000 budget transfer to push ahead on a planned renovation of the Market House, which will include installation of an upgraded HVAC system, installation of sprinklers under the eaves and reconfiguring the utilities to improve the floor plan of the 5,000-square-foot market.

The council passed a resolution to request $250,000 state support for the Market House, and it voted against a resolution that proposed to sell the Market House, reaffirming the City’s commitment remain the custodian of the historic asset.

“Despite withdrawal of the proposed lease, last night the City Council sent a clear message that it remains committed to revitalizing and reopening the Market House this year. By voting against the resolution to sell the Market House, and by overwhelmingly supporting the $500,000 budget transfer to pay for needed renovations, the City has reaffirmed its commitment to the Market House, and more broadly, to support downtown.”

The City and Gone to Market entered into exclusive negotiations last summer over the long-term management of the Market House. The two sides entered into a pre-development agreement in the fall to expedite the design phase, and a preliminary lease was introduced to the City Council on Dec. 20.

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