LAUREL – The LTC Corporation has moved one step closer to the approval of their plans for yet another retail center in Laurel.
The Laurel City Council’s 349th Board of Appeals unanimously re-approved LTC’s proposal to demolish the existing retail building on 15001 Baltimore Avenue and replace it with a multi-tenant, multi-story commercial structure during their meeting on Nov. 1.
At 5,112 square-feet, the complex will have space for a bank, a convenience store, a carry-out restaurant, a medical office and further retail outlets; although no specific stores are listed on the plan.
It adds yet another shopping center to downtown Laurel, which already features the Towne Centre – only a half-mile walk from the new facility – and many other shops and eateries along Baltimore Avenue.
At the Nov. 1 meeting, the Board posed some final questions about its impact on traffic. Project designer Jignesh Sheth, who represented LTC at the meeting, assured the council that there would be no traffic concerns.
“There’s an already-existing entrance, and they’re not doing anything with the entrance,” said Sheth. “There are only four shops, so it’s not really going to be a problem.”
The 2,173-square-foot building currently on the property has been standing since 1964. The Laurel Mexican Market was the building’s most recent tenant, but according to State of Maryland property records, the store’s business entity form was forfeited in 2011.
It marks the second time that Laurel has given LTC the go-ahead to redevelop the derelict Baltimore Avenue property. In December 2015, the Silver Spring-based holding company was first approved by the Board of Appeals.
“What happened was, they didn’t file the permits in time, and they expired,” said Deputy Dir. Jeff Love.
One major complicating factor in LTC’s proposal was their request to build five feet from the rear property line – half the distance required by Laurel’s Unified Building Code for Commercial-General zoned structures.
In their variance application, LTC stated that this was a necessity due to the awkward size, shape and location of the land parcel – a sloping lot at the end of the block, roughly shaped like a deformed bullet. Immediately west of the vacant building is the Chi’bal Mexican restaurant, whose rear parking lot juts into LTC’s planned space.
As the application states, “By reason of the exceptional irregular shape of the specific parcel and by reason of the topographical condition of the slope along the rear property line, the strict application of these regulations would result in the inability of the owner to demolish the vacant building and construct a new building to code.”
Variance requests can be filed for any number of reasons, according to Love.
“These could include site work, grading…and then any business will require a permit to get approval for their parking,” said Love.
On Aug. 8, LTC submitted their variance application. All civic agencies in Laurel gave it their blessing, as long as the planners obtain the necessary permits from the City of Laurel and conform to other specifications set by the Unified Building Code. These include installing sprinklers, providing the appropriate amount of parking spaces for each commercial storefront and installing a five-foot wide sidewalk to attach to the existing sidewalk on Baltimore Avenue.
On Oct. 28, the Planning Commission unanimously gave their recommendation to present LTC’s variance application to the Board of Appeals.
The planners do not have an exact timetable for when they will demolish the old structure. However, according to Sheth, they plan to go through with it, “as soon as we get the permit from the City.”