Renewal effort gets final touch Glen Burnie parcel to have residential, commercial center

September 11, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

County Executive John G. Gary is to sign a letter of intent tomorrow that would allow construction to start next spring on the last undeveloped parcel in the Glen Burnie Urban Renewal district.

A joint venture group composed of Six C/D Associates, an investment partnership working with developer Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse of Baltimore, is to turn the 5.6 acre gravel parking lot between Ritchie Highway, New Jersey Avenue and Crain Highway into apartments, shops and offices and a recreation and entertainment area.

The signing ceremony is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Glen Burnie Town Center, culminating 20 years of efforts to rejuvenate the town.

"This is something that has been over 20 years in the making and we're glad to be able to get it done," Gary said yesterday. "This is the highlight of our administration."

Efforts to develop the parcel, formerly known as Superblock, have taken many twists and turns over the years as residents and merchants grew hopeful only to be let down as plans fell through repeatedly.

The most recent attempt to develop the Town Center fell through last year after a Pasadena developer said he needed more government subsidies to make the project feasible. Those involved with the project say the experience taught them a lesson.

The state and county pumped an extra $2 million in subsidies, which made the difference between getting it done and having a developer back out, Gary said.

Under the plan, Six C/D will handle commercial development while Struever Bros. handles residential development for the $14 million project.

The Town Center will have 54 apartments in a building that fronts on Crain Highway with gated parking, a landscaped terrace area, community room and a small space for a business. They are expected to rent for $625 to $740 monthly, said Patricia Barland, the county's urban renewal manager.

The project also will contain 70,000 square feet of commercial space, including 54,000 square feet for a major grocery store, in addition to a bank, pharmacy, and other specialty shops, said county officials, who would not name the tenants.

The developers could not be reached yesterday.

Joseph Corcoran, president of the Glen Burnie Improvement Association, called the project "a great idea."

"It's long overdue and I think it will have a positive effect on the community as a whole," he said. "I'm particularly elated about the cultural arts and rink pavilion."

In the 1950s, customers crowded the old Robinson's department store, movie theaters, restaurants and gas stations in downtown Glen Burnie, said Corcoran, who was among them.

The town's decline started soon after James Rouse opened Harundale Mall in 1958, starting the push of retail development along Ritchie Highway, he said.

Now, the town seems to be taking on a new life, residents and committee members say.

Anne Arundel Community College just finished renovations and expansions at its Glen Burnie Town Center campus, and a bar and restaurant are to open by Halloween in the old Robinson's department store building, which has been vacant for seven years. All are within the urban renewal district, and all the activity and announcements have occurred over the last few weeks.

"I'm really excited about the development of the town center. There have been so many people who have gone before me and many, many years of work on this project," said Kathy DeGrange, a Glen Burnie resident and member of the Glen Burnie Town Center committee, a group of residents, businesses and county officials.

"We're looking for economic viability as well as a sense of place for our town," she said.

The letter of intent will "almost finalize the development of the urban renewal area," said Alfred J. Lipin, a Glen Burnie resident and town center committee member.

"There are only a few small sections that need to be developed and those are in the hands of businesses," he said.

Pub Date: 9/11/96

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