Two bids made on Government Center site
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 12:19

Vanguard Commercial Development and Sollers Investors were the only bidders on the Government Center site. photo by Ben Boehl

One proposes new outdoor amphitheater

by Ben Boehl

The bidding is closed — and the only two companies to bid on the North Government Center property are Vanguard Commercial Development, Inc. and Sollers Investors, LLC.
    Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced in December that the county would seek bids on three sites: the Government Center, the Towson Fire Station and Public Works Facility and the Randallstown Police Substation.
    The deadline for bids was April 4, and the county has announced a total of eight bids for the three properties.
    County government spokeswoman Ellen Kobler said that the bids are sealed and that she could not provide any information on specific proposals for the Government Center site.
        “An evaluation committee will review the bids in their entirety,” Kobler said.  Noting the requirements specified in the county’s Request for Proposal (RFP), she added, “It’s not a simple bid. People have the opportunity to be creative.”
    Len Weinberg of Vanguard did describe some of his company’s proposal for the Government Center site in an interview with The Eagle.
    “Our plan is to recreate a community center, an amphitheater, four ball fields and a rec center to replace what is currently there,” Weinberg said.
    Vanguard also bid on the Towson Fire Station property.
    Vanguard is a well-established developer headquartered in Baltimore City.    
    According to its website, the company has existed since 1987 and has over 15 commercial properties in the Baltimore metropolitan area, including the German Hill Shopping Center on Merritt Boulevard — home to Giant Food and Big Lots.    
    Weinberg said he would explain more about the plan in the coming weeks.
    Word about the amphitheater was in the Baltimore Sun on Friday, and members of “Save the North Point Government Center” commented about the plan on the group’s Facebook site.
    “Great! They want to give us an outdoor theatre. What are we going to do with that?” said an apparently skeptical statement on the group’s page.
    Weinberg did say that the amphitheater could be used for anything from singing groups to magic shows for children.
    “The outdoor amphitheater can be used for performance and a meeting space,” Weinberg said. “It would be family-oriented.”
    Little information could be found regarding Sollers Investors, LLC.    
    The county listed the company’s address at Westminster Road in
Reisterstown.
    However, the name “Sollers Investors” created a buzz on the Internet as locals speculated that John Vontran, owner of the former Seagram’s property on Sollers Point Road, might be associated with the group.
    Vontran was reached by phone on Tuesday morning but had no comment.
    The RFP for the Government Center site includes a requirement that the developer of the land must keep the athletic fields intact and under the operation of Baltimore County’s Department of Recreation and Parks or else provide comparable field space in the community that would also be under the operation of the county recreation and parks department.
    The RFP also states that if the building is purchased, the recreation center must be replaced by the buyer. That  recreation center must be at least  21,000 square feet, so it is big enough for the theater and all the programs currently in the building.
    Another part of the RFP requires maintaining the police communication tower at the site.
    Weinberg said Vanguard expects to have no trouble working around the communications tower.
    The county’s goal is to sell the three properties and use the proceeds to cover the costs of updating replacement facilities while Baltimore County still collects a profit.
    Final decisions on the bids, it seems, are not likely to come soon.
    “It’s going to be a few months,” Kobler noted.