City panel delays demolition of Hendler Creamery shell in East Baltimore

City panel delays demolition of Hendler Creamery shell in East Baltimore

The Baltimore Historic Preservation Panel says that the former Hendler Creamery, located in Jonestown, still contains enough "materials" and "feelings" of its past to potentially save it from demolition.

This was the second vote to determine whether or not the Hendler Creamery at 1100 E. Baltimore St. could be redeveloped in the context of a property overhaul. A private structural engineer told the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation Tuesday that the remains of the Hendler Creamery date back to 1892 and are now crumbling.

Two months ago, the commission voted that the Hendler remains are too decayed for salvage. The CHAP March hearing recording was damaged, so the matter was heard a second time.

After a lengthy discussion, CHAP has decided to consider the demolition of what remains of the roofless brick building -- which is now supported by rusted metal beams. Kevin Johnson's plans to turn the site into a $75-million mixed-use development failed.

The CHAP re-vote was held after hearing testimony from an architect, preservationists and community members, as well as the nonprofit Helping Up Mission, who could be the buyer of the property. All of them debated whether or not the Hendler Creamery shell retained enough historic significance to preserve its three remaining walls.

William Rockey is a structural engineering vice president at Century Engineering, Hunt Valley. He was hired by Helping Up Mission in Hunt Valley to examine the structure. The structure would then be between 85% and 90% new, at which point it wouldn't really be historic.

Next month, the panel will have to revisit the Hendler's issue, with many members exhausted from the heated debate, which at times resembled an actual court trial. The vote on Tuesday overturned the recommendation of a staff report by the city planning department that said it was time to demolish Hendler's because its historical significance had been lost due to neglect and erosion.

Peter Morrill, CHAP Commissioner, said: "It's still obvious that this building is of significant integrity." "I respectfully disagree" with the report.

The CHAP panel was deadlocked at 5-5 over whether the Hendler retained its historical significance. Nichole Battle, the chairperson of the CHAP panel, decided the tiebreaker to give the Hendler's historical legacy a boost.

When a demolition permit request is made, the panel must consider an historic structure's significance and impact. Next, a vote is taken to determine if a demolition permit can be granted. The representatives of Helping Up Mission told the commission that the Hendler building was a danger to the community, and too eroded to be salvaged.

Daniel Stoltzfus is the CEO of Helping Up Mission a nonprofit addiction treatment center whose headquarters are located a few blocks away. There is no way to maintain the crumbling fa├žades in a safe manner. "There is no solution."

James Hill, an employee of Helping Up Missions, told CHAP that the Hendler's remaining walls had become "a magnet for graffiti vandalism", and a visual drain to the community. Carlton Epps echoed his sentiments. He has lived in Jonestown, California for the past 12 years.

"Are you going to co-exist with the current structure?" Epps stated, "For us, this is unfair." "We've had to suffer this for six years." Where were the conservationists six years, seven years, five years or three?

Dolf Druckman told CHAP, describing himself as "an observer of historic preservation," that Hendler was still a historical landmark in the city even though its structure had deteriorated. He told the members of the panel that "your credibility is on the line."

Druckman told him, "It does not look like you have done your job."