CHARLES TOWN — A costume-making space, a new delicatessen and routine office spaces are the three proposals offered by local groups and businesses that have submitted bids to purchase the former Charles Town police headquarters building on West Liberty Street.
The three-person committee has been formed to review the proposals and then make a recommendation to the Charles Town City Council and the Charles Town Building Commission, the city entity that legally owns the 6,500-square-foot vacant building on the commercially zoned property.
The Old Opera House Theatre Company & Arts Centre has submitted a proposal to purchase the building to create an annex to its two venues on North George Street, said Steven Brewer, managing and artistic director for the group.
In addition to holding various acting, dance and voice classes, the Old Opera House puts on seven theatre productions a year in addition to an annual ballet performance.
If it acquired the old police headquarters, the Old Opera House would plan to move its existing thrift store on North Charles Street and its costume-making operations on South George Street into the building, Brewer said. The move would provide greater visibility for its thrift shop and make room to expand its current dance studio space, he said.
“For us, the main thing would be to expand our current studio programming,” Brewer said. “I think we could get into [the building] fairly quickly. It’s not a major overhaul for us.”
Natalie Greene, a proprietor of Ortega’s Taco Shop, a tenant in the city-owned Charles Washington Hall, has proposed to establish a delicatessen in the building, according to City Manager Daryl Hennessy.
As a third purchase proposal, Ours, Lawyer & Lewis, a tax accounting and consulting firm owned and operated by Eric Lewis, the past board president of the Jefferson County Development Authority, is looking to buy the building to provide more office space, Hennessy said. The firm is located on West Liberty Street, a half block from the former police building.
City officials have said they want to see a new owner of the property help stimulate the downtown’s social and economic development. The “request for reuse” proposal the council and commission issued to attract buyers for the building states three development goals the city wants to see achieved for and through the property: establish a “destination business” that draws people to the city’s downtown during the daytime and evening hours; promote a “vibrant” and “active” downtown environment; and “stimulate other desirable economic, social and cultural development.”
“The City will consider all complete and responsive proposals that are consistent with the development goals of the property,” the reuse proposal states.
Hennessy said it would take several days before the city would publicly release the three proposals that were submitted. He said the proposals contained “proprietary” information that would have to be redacted before the documents would be released.
He declined to say what prices each of the three proposed buyers offered to pay for the former headquarters. Brewer said the Opera House offered to buy the building for $165,000.
The City Council could possibly take up the building sale as soon as its next Oct. 19 meeting or the following one on Nov. 2, Hennessy said. The council and the commission, which are working jointly on selling the building, could agree to seek other proposals or not sell the building at all, he pointed out.
The Charles Town Police Department, which has 16 sworn officers, moved to a $3 million new, larger headquarters on South George Street last summer.