FROSTBURG, Md. — Officials are wagering that public investment will encourage private redevelopment of a historic downtown property.
With help from funds from Allegany County, Frostburg has purchased the former Au Petit Paris French restaurant building at 86 E. Main St. The plan is to get grant money to “reduce the unknowns,” then sell the building at a discount price so it can be redeveloped, said Elizabeth Stahlman, the city’s community development director.
“There are a lot of different uses that could be accommodated in this building,” she said.
The three-story, brick building housed the restaurant for 52 years. Founder Louis P. St. Marie Jr. died in 2008, and the business closed in 2012.
His widow, Jeanne St. Marie, continued to live in an upstairs apartment after the restaurant closed. She used proceeds from the sale to buy another house and move.
Stahlman said officials “knew there was a gap” between the appraised value of the building, what a private investor would be willing to pay and the probable sale price, considering the work that is required.
The building appraised at $160,000, she said.
Allegany County officials approved that amount from the county’s community enhancement program to help purchase the building.
“We must give half of that back,” Stahlman said.
In all, the city paid $166,098, according to online deed transfer records.
The deed record lists the building as being built in 1910 and having 11,184 square feet of enclosed space.
The city has applied for a grant through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development that would be used for repairs and, perhaps, the demolition of deteriorating additions on the back of the building.
“Right now we’re in a little bit of a holding pattern” while awaiting a decision about the grant application, Stahlman said.
Regardless of the timing, she said, the city plans to solicit sealed bids from developers interested in renovating the structure. She said the city will probably have to sell the building at a loss to make that possible.