Vacant hospital may get buyer Relief group enters talks with state about sale of 70-acre site

November 22, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Henryton Center, a state-owned former tuberculosis hospital near Marriottsville, soon could become an operations center for an international relief organization.

After standing vacant and costing the state $100,000 annually for 12 years, the center has attracted a buyer in Harvest International, a relief organization based in Owings Mills.

The nonprofit group is negotiating with the state to purchase the 70-acre property, south of Arrington Road and north of the Patapsco River.

"It looks promising," said Steve Cassard, assistant secretary for real estate at the state Department of General Services. "After 12 years of closure, Henryton is on the verge of being a productive facility again."

The state built Henryton as a tuberculosis hospital in 1923 and converted it to a center for the developmentally disabled in 1962.

When its patient population dropped below 100, the state closed the center in 1984. The property, with 228,000 square feet in 18 buildings, has been vacant since. Two years ago, the state declared Henryton surplus and has tried to market it.

Cassard has discussed the proposal with the state Board of Public Works, which would make the final decision on any sale of state property.

E9 "We have briefed the board but have not put an agree-

ment in front of them as yet," Cassard said. "We are in the midst of working out the technical aspects, negotiating contract terms and conditions."

The finer details of the agreement include water sources and boundary issues. Patapsco Valley State Park surrounds much of the hilly, wooded property, which is zoned for conservation use.

The state usually does not make its market prospects public until the sale is final. But, at a crowded citizens advisory committee meeting in Eldersburg this week, Jonathan S. Herman, Sykesville's mayor, said, "Henryton is spoken for. A user will be making it into residential housing."

Carroll County has opposed more residential development in South Carroll, its most populous area, until schools and roads can handle the 28,000 people who live there.

"We are not talking about retail housing here," Cassard said. "There could potentially be a residential component here, but only as part of the Harvest International operation."

Cassard's office has received a variety of offers for Henryton, but many were from residential developers.

"Carroll County has not looked favorably on any multifamily proposals," he said.

Officials at Harvest International, which delivers relief services and supplies around the world, were unavailable for comment yesterday.

The organization has prepared a three-phase proposal with plans to renovate most of Henryton's buildings, Cassard said.

The site will become Harvest International's East Coast operations and distribution center, he said.

"There will probably be no demolition, except for the power plant, which is nonfunctional," Cassard said. "There will be no dramatic change in character. The buildings will be spruced up and used."

Although vacant, the buildings cost the state about $100,000 annually to maintain. That upkeep has meant little more than minor weatherizing, fencing and intermittent security patrols to prevent vandalism. Nearly all the buildings would need asbestos abatement.

"We have found a buyer willing to make a substantial investment," Cassard said. "This means reuse for a unique, but long-vacant facility."

Pub Date: 11/22/96

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