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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Delmar development Amphitheater, restaurant included in 110-acre Heron Pond proposal

DELMAR -- After two failed attempts to develop a large parcel of property off Route 54 on the Maryland side of town, a new proposed plan is in the works.
Doug Marshall, a local foreclosure auctioneer and the owner of Marshall Home and Land Co., wants to build an amphitheater, restaurant and development on 110 acres of land known as Heron Pond. The acreage equates to 15 percent of the town of Delmar, Md.
"We're hoping to bring something here that will benefit the town," Marshall said. "It's a really cool project and I think it's a thing that will keep people busy."
According to the proposal, the pavilion and amphitheater would be 58,000 square feet and would have a 1-megawatt solar array, making it one of the few in Maryland to have one. There would also be 125 homes for both single families and age-targeted clients in addition to the restaurant.
Previous attempts to develop the property were unsuccessfu, causing both the developer and the bank that had purchased the land to lose significant amounts of money. Marshall, who purchased the property in late December for 10 cents on the dollar of the $10 million price tag, said the parcel been referred to as the "Afghanistan of Delmar" by some.
"They've given it that name because everybody who has bought it has failed and it's taken down both a bank and a developer," he said. "What took down so many developers was that they were from out of town and did not know the market."
With the creation of the development, Marshall said more than 110 part-time and 20 full-time jobs would be added to help with the restaurant, performing arts center and other associated businesses.
In order to move along with the next steps in developing the large property, Marshall will seek to have the land rezoned from its current R2 designation to a Planned Unit Development. In a PUD, the town would have to approve any construction that would take place.
Marshall previously went before the Delmar Planning and Zoning Commission last week to receive a favorable recommendation for the concept, which brought him before the Delmar, Md., Commissioners on Monday night.
Thomas "Bunky" Luffman, a town commissioner who also sits on Planning and Zoning, said while there are several positives to the project, everyone must remember that it is still in the very early stages.
"This project would replace an area that is already approved for 108 single-family homes during a time when our current density has filled our schools to the limit," Luffman said. "Most importantly, this project would bring jobs at a time when our region is in desperate need of them and it could also spark more commercial development along Route 13, which would lead to an even greater number of jobs. While there is a lot of potential in this project, I'd love to hear more input from residents."
Marshall, who said his hope is to have dirt moving as early as December or as late as February 2013, said the project is something that he has wanted to do to make a positive impact.
"With my experience working as an auctioneer, the thing I hate most is foreclosures and the foreclosure system," he said. "This is one thing I like biting into because this is something that is a feel-good, something foreclosure auctions are not." More on this story wednesday including drawingand comments from commission

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