Voltaggio Awaits Decision on New Restaurant Site

Frederick City officials are expected to decide this month whether celebrity chef Bryan Voltaggio’s new restaurant Bar 228 can go in city-owned space on All Saints Street.

Voltaggio and business partner Hilda Staples proposed an 11-year lease agreement for the 3,000-square-foot retail space at the base of the city’s parking deck. That lease was headed for approval when city leaders put the brakes on it, deciding they needed to provide an opportunity for others to bid on the location.

“We are accepting other offers on the space and evaluating them with a set of criteria,” said Richard Griffin, Frederick City’s economic development director.

Voltaggio and Staples had proposed moving into the city-owned space for $1 a year for the first six years of the lease, then upping the rent to $15 per square foot in the seventh year, with a 3 percent increase in that rate for the following three years. In exchange, the proposal had Bar 228 paying to retrofit the space for a restaurant use at an estimated cost of between $650,000 to $850,000.

The city space, which is currently vacant, became available last summer but had not been listed on commercial real estate sales sites, Griffin said. Upon getting the Bar 228 proposal, leaders then felt they should extend an opportunity to other entities that might also want to bid on the property.

Voltaggio, who is known for his high-end restaurant, Volt, located on North Market Street, declined a request for an interview about the plans.

Griffin confirmed that “a ton of folks” have requested information packets prepared about the real estate opportunity.

At press time the city had not had any additional offers on the site.

“We believe it is an exciting opportunity for someone,” he said.

The property on All Saints Street is the street level portion of the parking deck in an area of the city tagged for revitalization, according to Griffin. City code requires street level space to have an active use, such as restaurant or retail.

“It is in a revitalization part of downtown, and we need a use for it that would be a catalyst to attract people to that area,” Griffin said. “That catalyst would help drive others to invest and build and locate their businesses there. Right up there is also what does the lease entail and what are the financial implications for the city.”

Griffin said most retail space in the city costs $10 to $20 per square foot but that listings often leave prices up for negotiations because of infrastructure and other improvements that might be part of the leasing arrangements.

Interested investors had until Feb. 23 to submit offers. Griffin said the mayor and city aldermen are expected to hold a work session to discuss the site in early March.

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