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More doom for Lexington Park as businesses forced to vacate

Lexington Park, MD -- Some Lexington Park businesses are facing an uncertain future. Businesses on Tulagi Place, the historic downtown of Lexington Park, which have for the past several years been operating month to month without a lease, have been told they can have a one-year lease but will have to vacate their buildings after that. The businesses on that block include the iconic Linda’s Café.

Linda’s Café has been owned and operated by Linda Palchinsky at the same location for almost 27 years. Before she purchased it, the café was known as Kelly’s Place. When Palchinsky was informed by the landlord about the one-year lease, she told The Bay Net she was shocked. She said rumors have been flying round for years that the building would be sold, but the news was still unexpected.

St. Mary's County Commissioner Mike Hewitt [R - 2nd District] released the news at the commissioners’ May 12 meeting, expressing concern about the future of the businesses in that area.

According to Acting Director of Economic Development Robin Finnacom, the entire block bounded by Tulagi Place, South Coral Drive, Great Mills Road and Three Notch Road is owned by members of the Whitbrow family, who do not live in the area. Finnacom said she has not been made privy to any plans for the block but rumors of an impending sale had led her office to contact the businesses and offer assistance.

At one time Walgreens drug store chain was reportedly interested in the property, but Palchinsky said she has been told they are now out of the picture.

The former Bay District Volunteer Fire Department building, which sits at the corner of S. Coral Drive and Great Mills Road, has reportedly been sold, although The Bay Net was unable to confirm that. The Patuxent Habitat for Humanity is currently using that building.

Palchinsky, when asked by The Bay Net what her plans are, said she honestly doesn’t know. She said she would like to relocate somewhere in Lexington Park, but probably couldn’t afford to buy a building. She said perhaps some younger person could buy her business, retain the Linda’s name and she would work for them.

Some people have suggested that she do an online crowd-funding effort to raise money for a new location, Palchinsky reported.

Palchinsky said she could envision the old downtown being redeveloped into a walking, commercial neighborhood and she would like to be a part of that because she knows that her customers appreciate the home-style food and atmosphere she provides. “Just stand at the door at breakfast time and watch them come in,” she said.

But the future of the area is speculation at this point because no plans for redevelopment, which would presumably include demolition, have been submitted to the county. Palchinsky finds that odd, given that she has been told she will have to vacate her premises in a year and it takes a while to get plans through county government.

Whatever is proposed at that location would be limited by restrictive overlay zoning to protect the mission of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

Calling the location just outside Pax River’s Gate 2 “The Gateway to our revitalization area,” Finnacom said of what happen there, “This is the property owners' business, not the county’s business.”

But Hewitt said, “Hopefully they will stay in Lexington Park.” He added, “It’s important that people in the county don’t think the county is trying to throw them out.”

Bay District Volunteer Fire Department President Wayne Johnson contacted the Bay Net about the status of their old firehouse building that currently is rented to Habitat for Humanity. Johnson said the building has not been sold but they are in talks with a potential purchaser. He said that purchaser is Walgreens Drug Stores.

Contact Dick Myers at dick.myers@thebaynet.com

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