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Cohen Seeks Proposals On Market House

| February 15, 2011, 12:47 PM | 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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Comments (16)

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  1. The silence is suspect is it not ? It tells you something.

  2. Bob McWilliams says:


    I believe they’re waiting for the RFP to be issued first. The “ready, shoot, aim” strategy is no longer in play.

    Actually, I don’t think there’s any silence at all. There were no less than three hearings of the Economic Matters Committee on this topic, with dozens of speakers. A similarly large number of people have spoken at City Council meetings, and many have spoken directly with the Mayor or their Alderman.

    Maybe some people are confusing their inability to listen with a perception of silence.

  3. Craig Purcell says:


    Yeah we wouldn’t want to rush it as the original request came out almost a year ago.

  4. Bob McWilliams says:


    I believe the who purpose of this reset is to allow for an RFP that was never done. Your comment is simply inaccurate. Furthermore, the availability of a beer and wine license changes the landscape considerably, a significant option that only now is being offered to applicants other than Jackson.

  5. Craig Purcell says:


    You going to submit a plan for the Market ?

  6. Bob McWilliams says:


    I’ve already suggested different options and will continue to do so. People who bring complaints, unaccompanied by solutions, do little to move the ball forward. This, I’m sure, is one area where we both agree.

  7. Craig Purcell says:

    What do you want to do?

  8. Bob McWilliams says:


    Read all about it in the Capital’s Friday edition of Plain Speaking.

    I know in your blog (Annapolis Political Scene) you characterize the Capital’s coverage of the Market House with these words, “the Capital with their biased opinions, hyperbolic explanations by rogue and uninformed columnists”.

    Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy my column. I’ve attended all three Economic Matters Committee meetings, the City Council meetings and have also spent a couple hours meeting personally with Mayor Cohen to talk about the Market House. That’s on top of years and numerous other columns covering the issue. Consequently, I hope you find my column to be informative. I have also tried to limit the number of rouge, hyperbolic explanations I usually include in my column, so as to not get you upset. Regarding bias, I write opinion pieces, so I can’t help you there.

    Let me know what you think!

  9. I do hope you will continue to protect the Capital’s advertisers from undue competition and coordinate stories with fellow Capital columnists, reporters & guests writers.

    Bob, will you too soon be be doing a video ?

    The Ancient City needs to open itself up to the wider world and stop being so dang provincial and short sighted. Things have never been the same since the harbor closed to real commerce and stopped being a working place.

  10. Bob McWilliams says:

    I fail to see how I protect the Capital’s advertisers from anything, nor do I have any idea what the other writers or guest columnist plan to cover.

    It’s interesting to see how irritated the left has become as they lose their comfy control of the media. With the Internet and failure of The Sun to come through with their reliable bias coverage, you now must deal with opposing points of view.

    Nevertheless, I hope you read my column. It’s good to try and understand all sides. I take the time to read many of your personal attacks. You should reciprocate and read my analysis of the issues.

  11. Craig Purcell says:

    I look forward to your column and don’t take my attacks personally they are directed at the Fourth Estate of which you are the self admitted right wing part – or so it seems.

    Yes we miss the MIA Sunpapers too…

    We completely understand the desire to protect advertisers as if clients can’t spend money for a bucket of paint to paint their shops this spring — they surely will cut their advertising budget.

    In the Scene’s universe competition is a good thing and raises the bar for the entire town to meet – a things which the Ancient City sorely needs.

    How long will your plans for the Markethouse take to bring to fruition ? How many committee and neighborhood & business group meetings are enough to decide ? This past year wasn’t enough ?

    I hear Fred Kent is coming back to town for Round II.

    Many long time observers think the Markethouse will be empty for the better part of a year at least and it will take several years to a grow business base for the place.

    These things just don’t hatch full grown burgeoning and productive business overnight you know. It takes time to grow and many unforseen adjustments will need to be made which cannot be decided by everyone – especially competitors…

  12. Bob McWilliams says:

    My suggestion could be implimented almost immediately, at virtually no cost, and would actually help the downtown merchants, instead of cannibalizing their business. Furthermore, my suggestion would act as a “destination”, which is what Cohen wants as that tide to lift all boats. In fact my suggestion will not only save the City a million dollars, it could very well produce a million in cash, while meeting all the priorities Cohen has set forth above. My suggestion doesn’t require any changes to the City Code, and it allows the City to retain ownership of the Market House.

  13. Bob McWilliams says:


    Also, no offense at your attack on the fourth estate. It’s interesting to be a minority member of a mostly self segrigated group. I’m sure you applaud Mr. Marquardt for his effort to provide a balanced presentation.

  14. Craig Purcell says:

    I can’t wait for you to unveil your plan…

  15. Bob,

    A Visitor’s Center, the Harbor Master who can’t see the water properly and a corner bank, Bob ? Come on you’ll have to try harder than that to get people downtown past the mall and all that shopping out there in Parole.

  16. Erich Maier says:

    Jackson acted as a paid professional consultant to the city. Consequently, it was a conflict of interest for him to try to enter into a lease while a paid consultant.

    The city has paid Jackson to develop a proposal plan. The work Jackson has prepared is thereforew owned by the city. That work product is not owned by Jackson.

    For Jackson to submit a proposal now as an independent contractor means he must reimburse to the city the $40,000 that he has received from the city.

    Otherwise it is a conflict of interest. One cannot be on both sides of the coin. One is either the faithful consultant to the city OR the independent contractor submitting a proposal to seek a contract from the city.

    Jackson holds himself out as a professional consultant who charges for and gets paid for the services that he renders.

    If Jackson submits a proposal without repaying the $40,000 to the city that he has been paid, then there likely are good grounds for future legal filings from other disgruntled contractors who may submit proposals is the city awards the lease contract to Jackson.

    Jackson, acting as a professional consultant, knows better than to have done what he did.

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