Harford receives feedback from developers on uses for ‘tire lot’ site in Bel Air
Harford County government has received two responses to its request last year for “expressions of interest” in how to redevelop the county-owned property in the heart of Bel Air known as “the tire lot.”
The county put out the request in late October, and Jan. 19 was the deadline for submissions.
The county administration sought potential “concepts that will lay the groundwork for a request for proposals,” spokesperson Cindy Mumby said Thursday.
A request for proposals, or RFP, is an invitation to offer bids on a project, the details of which are in the document. That will be happening later.
“We did receive two expressions of interest and so we will be using that information … we will be getting input from the Town of Bel Air to develop the RFP that will then be put out to bid,” Mumby said.
She said county officials “expect to have something sometime this year to put out to bid;” however, a specific time frame has not been established.
Mumby said the two respondents, Kingsville Holdings, LLC and Ten Oaks Realty, put forth ideas for projects that involved “mixtures of retail, apartments and parking” for the 2.5-acre site.
“We wanted to see if there were plans out there for a project that would be viable,” she said. “That was the goal of making that open request, [to] show us what could work in that area.”
Mumby declined to provide more details about what was proposed, noting neither respondent had not been compensated for their efforts. In addition, the county does not want to put their ideas in the marketplace before requesting bids.
“We didn’t want to go into more detail because it then allows others to take the ideas from the folks who provided us with their concepts,” she said.
She said the county sought input from the community of private developers “really for nothing in return — we were asking them to put forth effort with no reward at the end.”
That both responded also “doesn’t mean that either one will be awarded a future contract,” she stressed.
“The RFP puts everybody on an equal footing because it will be made public, it will be open to everyone, and then if we move forward then at the end of that period, then there would be an award,” Mumby said of the next phase in the redevelopment process.
The site, part of which had been used by the former Carey’s Tire Warehouse, is at the south end of Main Street where it intersects Churchville Road. South Hickory Avenue borders the east end of the site, which has also been occupied by a small strip shopping center and filling station.
The area is used for parking, mainly by county employees but also downtown visitors. The former shopping center building, which is along Hickory Avenue, is used for document storage.
Two buildings are adjacent to the north end of the site. One is on Main Street and is occupied by the Black Eyed Suzie’s restaurant; the second is the A.A. Roberty Building, the headquarters of Harford County Public Schools, at Hickory and Courtland Place.
When the county administration first announced it would be considering potential private sector redevelopment of the site, Mumby noted future uses should be in keeping both with its vision and the Bel Air Downtown Alliance.
The Downtown Alliance commissioned a Real Estate Market Analysis that was prepared by Camoin Associates of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and released in early 2016.
The study was a compilation of ideas to guide town officials and civic leaders on redeveloping properties for commercial and residential use, marketing the town, boosting tourism and infrastructure improvements for Bel Air.
County staffers developed the request for expressions of interest, according to Mumby. The county will seek input from Bel Air town officials as the RFP is developed.
She said the decision has not been made yet whether the county would still own the tire lot, or if it would be sold to the developer.
“It’s too early to say exactly how the project would work,” Mumby said.
She stressed the ideas offered through the expressions of interest will not dictate the project parameters detailed in the RFP.
“We were just looking for concepts the developers thought would work,” she said.
Mumby said the expressions of interest process had been helpful in gaining “feedback” on what a project should entail.
“It was just another resource to inform the development of the RFP,” she said.