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Fate Of Ellicott City Buildings Uncertain Amid Demolition Fears

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The future of Ellicott City's Main St. is in question again, as some buildings marked to be torn down as a part of a flood plan may instead remain standing.

Will they stay or will they go?

That's the big question mark at the lower end of Ellicott City's Main St. where ten buildings were marked to be torn down six months ago.

Now, the future of this twice flood-ravaged section of street is again, uncertain.

"The question is: what do we do with those facilities?" asked Jim Irvin with the Department of Public Works. "The executive has asked us to see what options are available to preserve as many of those structures, in one form or another, as possible."

County leaders said that they're moving ahead with negotiations to buy the homes and businesses while still considering if there's a way to save those same buildings.

"Our top priority is keeping Ellicott City safe," said Howard County executive Calvin Ball. "Also a priority is making sure that Ellicott City has the historical and cultural relevance protected."

Under former county executive Allan Kittleman, the plan was to protect Ellicott City by tearing parts of it down.

A desperate attempt to avoid the kind of flooding that killed four people and destroyed homes and businesses in 2016 and 2018.

His administration flagged the ten buildings on the south side of Main St. for demolition, intending to create a wider and deeper channel to take on heavy rain.

One of them houses the Phoenix Emporium, a 40-year landmark on Main St.

"We hope to stay on Main Street in Ellicott City," said Phoenix Emporium owner, Mark Hemmis. "This is our home. This is where we want to be."

Hemmis was in the process of rebuilding and reopening when county leaders announced their teardown list last year.

Now, he has to wait and see.

"I'm not sure what county's intentions are for these properties down here," said Hemmis. "I'm not sure that they do either. I am encouraged that they're willing to discuss alternatives to them demolishing the buildings. But I would need to know that my employees and customers and my family, quite honestly, are safe being in this building long term."

County leaders also gave a look at a new warning system today. It will be a unique siren that you can hear throughout the area when there's a danger of flooding in Ellicott City.

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