Part Two – Vacant Commercial Properties and Blight in Walkersville

mapThe commercial properties on the north side of MD 194 and directly across from Walkers Village Center has been planned for commercial development for a long time.  At some point in time, the properties came to be called Walkers Village II (at least that’s the name chosen by two companies that own property along the highway).  The properties host two abandoned gas stations, and empty lots.

The lots have sat empty since Victoria Park at Walkersville, a senior apartment complex, was built a few years ago. At the time, Capital One Bank planned to open a branch on the lot at the corner of Sandstone Drive and Woodsboro Pike (MD 194).  Capital One still owns that lot, but nothing further has transpired.  On the lot closest to Colony Village along MD 194, developers announced plans to have a small commercial area that would offer amenities that would attract nearby residents who could walk to and from the shops.  Second Walkers Village Limited Partnership with a mailing address of Alliance Group in Washington, D.C., owns that property.  Again, that property provides nothing more than a mowed lawn. “It seems the economy tanked and no one wants to invest in a shopping center when there’s a half vacant property across the street,” stated one pedestrian walking by the lots.

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Fuel pumps falling apart on Sandstone Drive.

Fuel Worx Incorporated bought the gas station and service center at 100 Sandstone Drive for $900,000 in 1998. The property went up for auction earlier this year, but no transfer has been recorded on tax records. The gas station struggled the past few years.  The availability of fuel was sporadic at best.

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The rear parking lot of Fuel Worx has become a dump.

According to the Maryland Department of Environment, the state banned delivery of fuel to the gas station in October 2013. The site failed leak testing of its underground storage tanks. The owner failed to monitor and to maintain the tanks as required by law.

IMG_20141005_140008362Today, the abandoned gas station, which last used the name Valero, sits vacant and in disrepair.  During our visit to the site, two teenagers were smoking and riding skateboards. They told us that every once in a while someone comes to take some things out of the store, but it usually sits empty.  “Its good for fooling around,” the boy told us.

IMG_20141005_140048368The fuel pumps are literally falling apart at the gas station. A heap of trash grows by a truck that does not appear to have moved in some time. Trash hangs out of a can surrounded by buckets strewn around garage bay doors and tires. In the distance and across a field of grass, another blighted property continues the tour of despair.

IMG_20141005_140018713_HDRThe land surrounding the Fuel Worx property from Sandstone Drive around to MD 194 and the long abandoned Exxon gas station belong to 9210 Woodsboro Pike, LLC, another company owned by Tomarchio Enterprises which owns Walker Village Center across MD 194.

This property cause controversy many years ago when the Exxon gas station was built in what was the front yard of a beautiful brick home, now hidden behind a tree line. The gas station never made it. The property sits vacant and deteriorates year after year. The local Boy Scouts breath life into the property once a year to sell Christmas trees as a fundraiser.

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Graffiti greets visitors to Walkersville’s commercial district.

The building on the property provides local vandals an outlet for their graffiti. The owner repeatedly paints over the graffiti to no avail. The eyesore not only further detracts from the town’s asthetics, but presents a safety hazard. Doors are not secured on the building, and area hoodlums know it.

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A door on the former Exxon building sits ajar along MD 194.

Tomarchio Enterprises presented plans to build a small shopping center and a free-standing CVS on this property. The Town of Walkersville arranged to build a connection from Sandstone Drive to the traffic light at MD 194 and Glade Boulevard in hopes of improving safety for those entering and exiting Sandstone Drive. These plans were put on hold some years ago as the recession slowed plans.

These properties add more than blight while they sit vacant. As the community struggles with crime and drugs, properties like Fuel Worx, Incorporated and 9210 Woodsboro Pike LLC provide a place for criminal activity to incubate. The fuel tanks leak gasoline into the ground and into the water table.

 

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