The Maryland Stadium Authority has been directed to review alternatives to a proposed eight-story, $16.5 million office building at the baseball stadium in Camden Yards, Chairman Herbert J. Belgrad said.
The review was requested by a legislative budget conference committee and is due to the committee and the state Department of Fiscal Services by May 1, Belgrad said.
The proposed addition, adjacent to the southern end of the B&O warehouse, would provide office space for the State Highway Administration, which would occupy the building under a 25-year lease agreement.
Belgrad said yesterday the authority has agreed not to enter into a lease agreement with the highway administration for office space in the southern portion of the warehouse until after June 1. Legislators had previously given their blessings to a lease agreement.
If an acceptable alternative is identified, the Orioles would relinquish the right of first refusal for a future tenant in the southern portion of the warehouse and would have to share the costs of exterior renovations of the southern half of the warehouse currently under way, Belgrad said.
The plan to build an addition to the warehouse has been debated since January.
Last week, baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent telephoned Gov. William Donald Schaefer to express a concern about the proposed appendage to the warehouse. The building must be approved by the state Board of Public Works, of which the governor is a member.
Vincent was responding to a plea by Orioles President Larry Lucchino, who opposes the warehouse addition because he and Orioles Vice President for Stadium Operations Janet Marie Smith believe it will alter the "old-fashioned" look of the ballpark.
The northern half of the warehouse has been designed to hold offices for the Orioles and the authority as well as ticket booths, a cafeteria and party suites. The warehouse was retained on the site after a lengthy debate that concluded the structure would serve as a historical reminder of Camden Yards as well as an outfield beacon.
Belgrad said yesterday that stadium authority officials are "sensitive" to the controversy that has surrounded the proposed warehouse addition, which became public when renderings were presented in January to the Architectural Review Board.
"There are people who are opposed to the addition of the warehouse and who are looking at any source to block it," Belgrad said. "This request is consistent with the steps we have been taking. Before a final decision is made, we should look at alternatives to the site."
One alternative Belgrad identified is to construct the addition on the eastern side of the warehouse, opposite the stadium and facing the Inner Harbor.
The building would add 128,000 square feet to half of the warehouse and would be attached to the warehouse by a tall, glass atrium, according to plans designed by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, the Kansas City architectural firm