Apartments, stores urged for American Can Co. site

November 14, 1990|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Evening Sun Staff

East Baltimore community groups have prepared a plan to make the former American Can Co. complex on Boston Street into a supermarket, apartments for the elderly and stores.

Members of the Waterfront Coalition, whose members represent Canton, Fells Point and Butchers Hill, admit they lack funds to purchase the 9.3-acre property at Boston and Hudson streets, but want a say in its fate.

"This is the first time a neighborhood group has come up with its own plan for a site," said Lily Adlin, a member of the Waterfront Coalition who has a business in Fells Point. "Now we're looking for developers who will be sympathetic to the communities around it."

Drawings of the new proposal will be discussed at 7:30 tonight at St. Casimir's Church meeting room, O'Donnell Street and Lakewood Avenue. The group explained its concept to city officials yesterday.

The architectural plans in the new proposal were prepared by the Neighborhood Design Center. Other work was contributed by Southeast Development Inc.

The American Can property, which has been inactive as an industrial building since 1988, once was due to be leveled and made into a $50 million shopping complex by developer Michael Swerdlow. He has since dropped out of the project.

Community groups fought a decision to raze the complex of masonry buildings constructed between 1895 and 1924 which once employed hundreds of East Baltimore workers. The buildings are vacant.

"They are more than welcome to buy the property themselves," said John G. Skoglin, an official of W.C. Pinkard, a commercial real estate firm that manages the complex. "We'd welcome that. We don't have a firm price yet but we're talking in the $8 to $9 million range."

The new plan calls for either senior citizen or "affordable" housing to be constructed in one of the buildings, construction of a new supermarket and neighborhood shops, light industrial space and a discount sales center.

The coalition said elderly residents make up about 30 percent of southeast Baltimore's population but there are fewer than 200 units of designated elderly housing in the Highlandtown and Fells Point neighborhoods.

The group also is looking for a supermarket to anchor the shopping portion of the complex. A report accompanying the study said the "area is densely populated and under-served by retail goods and services."

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