Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order on Tuesday to establish the Commission of the Future of the Pikesville Armory, marking the first step in a much-anticipated redevelopment plan for the 114-year-old military complex.
As part of the announcement, Hogan tapped state Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-District 11), who represents the Pikesville area, after months of discussions to chair a group of community organizations, elected officials and residents that will review potential uses of the historic site.
In a prepared statement, Hogan, a Republican, said he’s confident Zirkin and his commission “will find an innovative and exciting use for the Armory that will add immeasurable value to the entire Pikesville community.”
The commission, comprised of 15 members, will consult with Pikesville community stakeholders and individuals to come up with options that are consistent with the Armory’s National Register of Historic Places designation.
Zirkin said the Armory, at 610 Reisterstown Road, presents a unique challenge to spawn investment and engagement and provide an important cultural and community resource.
“We are really looking forward to revitalizing such an important piece of land that our community can really reap the benefits of,” he said. “We have an incredible chance to come up with so many exciting options that will serve everyone in our area,”
The effort comes three months after the pair oversaw the completion of the transfer of 117 acres of the former Rosewood Center to Stevenson University, a deal that had been in the works for nearly 17 years.
Zirkin hailed the bipartisan support he received from Hogan as “essential” in making the Armory effort possible.
“The important thing in politics is to work together for the common good of the community,” Zirkin said. “Not many things are accomplished when you aren’t willing to work across party lines, so I’ve always been willing to work across the aisle to get things done.”
The property, which compromises more than 14 acres of scenic grounds and historic structures in the Pikesville commercial revitalization district, has been declared superfluous by the Maryland Military Department. It was built in 1903 as part of the National Guard’s 20th-century reorganization and expansion, making it the second oldest armory in the state, and has largely gone unused in recent years.
Once a community gathering spot that hosted presidential candidates, craft fairs, dances and other public events, the Armory has turned into what community members refer to as an eyesore surrounded by trash, overgrown weeds and tall grass.
Zirkin said he is already in the process of putting together public meetings for residents to share input for what they would like to see.
In his initial conversations with community leaders, he noted he is exploring options geared toward arts and culture and recreational uses for kids as valuable potential uses.
“We really need something in this area for kids who lack access to a facility like this,” Zirkin said. “There aren’t enough of those types of facilities in our communities.”
Zirkin and his committee, which includes representatives from 1,000 Friends of Pikesville, Inc., the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Pikesville Recreation Council, have until Oct. 1, 2018, to present their recommendations to Hogan.