To the relief of area merchants, the owner of a vacant building in Baltimore's Highlandtown neighborhood has abandoned plans to lease the space to a blood collection agency.
"I've decided to release Maryland Biological from their lease," said Alvin Caplan, chairman and chief executive officer of Broadway Realty Corp., the company that owns the one-story building at 3819 Eastern Ave. "I don't want to have any ill feeling in the neighborhood among the merchants."
Caplan said 1st District Councilman Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr. convinced him that leasing the building to Maryland Biological Services Inc., a company that draws blood for research, was not in the community's best interest.
The city Department of Housing and Community Development decided last month to hold Maryland Biological's application to open the Highlandtown blood donor center until renovations required by the Health Department were completed, according to a memo by Robert Donald, superintendent of building inspection for the city.
"From a city standpoint, everything was legal," said D'Adamo, whose district office is one block from the vacant building. "Maryland Biological was renovating the building so that it could be used as a blood donor center, but the bottom line was that the merchants didn't want it there.
"So I sat down with Mr. Caplan and simply explained the merchants' concerns," D'Adamo said.
He said several business owners had stopped by his office to voice their opposition to the opening of a blood donor center. The merchants feared that the center, which was going to pay $15 to each person who donated blood, would attract drug addicts and alcoholics to the area.
"I'm ecstatic that a blood donor center won't be opening there," said Steven Gast, owner of Avenue Bridals and Steve Gast Photography Services at 3314 Eastern Ave. "It's not the kind of business that this area needs."
Opposition by Gast and other Highlandtown merchants persuaded Maryland Biological to agree to Caplan's request to "tear up the lease," said Larry Moss, president of Interstate Blood Bank Inc., Maryland Biological's parent company.
"It became obvious that it was not the place for us to open a blood donor center," Moss said last night from his home in Memphis, Tenn. "We're just trying to assess how much money we've lost."
He said the company has not decided whether it will look for another site in Baltimore.
Caplan has hired Trout, Segall and Doyle Inc., a local real estate company, to market the 3,500-square-foot property. The building, constructed in 1960, has been vacant for the past year. It was formerly a card shop.
"I lost a lot of money when I tore up the contract," said Caplan, who signed a deal two months ago to lease the space to Maryland Biological for $24,000 per year for five years. "But in the end, I think I've done what's best for the community."
Pub Date: 1/06/97