A Baltimore real estate consultant will help the state decide what to do with the historic Warfield Complex at Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville.
The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has commissioned the Legg Mason Realty Group to conduct a $35,000 study of the 131-acre property along Route 32.
Officials hope the study, which is scheduled to be completed in the spring, will determine the site's development potential and gauge the interest of prospective users.
The study is a cooperative venture between the state and county, but Carroll economic development officials would not comment on it. The Warfield site is viewed as vital to increasing the amount of industry in South Carroll.
Since last year's announcement that the state could declare Warfield surplus property and sell the site, the health department has conducted several forums and tours of the land and 15 aging buildings. No clear marketing plan has emerged.
Legg Mason will conduct a study that is expected to detail all the possibilities for Warfield and how long it would take to complete each one.
"Basically, we are looking through all the issues in a more thorough manner than you can in round-table discussions," said Joseph M. Cronyn, vice president of Legg Mason and coordinator of the project. "We will be looking at land, layout, roads, buildings and how the site matches with the needs of entities who might want it."
The study should yield the "good advice on the highest and best use" for the property, said Steve Cassard, assistant secretary of the state Real Estate Department.
Legg Mason also will research similar government-owned properties in Maryland and other states.
"Our research staff will look at everything realistic and feasible for getting the full economic value out of the property," Cronyn said. "And at all possibilities from residential to industrial and everything in between."
A proposal for a concert arena may be the only possibility eliminated from consideration.
"The arena idea is off the table," he said. "It would not be a realistic use and is not contemplated at this time."
The owner of Cellar Door Productions, a Virginia-based concert promoter, said he is still looking for a Maryland site for a new concert arena and has not eliminated Warfield.
"I am still absolutely interested in the Warfield property," said Dave Williams, president of the company, which owns the Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Va.
Cronyn has toured Warfield's century-old buildings and called them great historical structures. He is working with an architect to determine whether the buildings could be renovated.
"I have heard lots of different ideas, most with conditions," he said. "I have very clear instructions to investigate every possibility for preserving the buildings."
The three-member state Board of Public Works will make the final decision on Warfield. Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein and Treasurer Richard N. Dixon, who sit on the board with the governor, have said repeatedly that they favor keeping the buildings.
Cronyn, who plans further discussions, met last week with Sykesville officials.
Sykesville Mayor Jonathan S. Herman said he is skeptical of studies. Instead, he has pushed for a charrette, an intensive planning session with architects, planners and residents.
"We have plenty of studies that are collecting dust on our shelves," Herman said. "It is better to plan and get all the players involved."
The Legg Mason effort will include joint discussions and presentations to the town and the county, said Elizabeth Barnard, director of the Office of Planning and Capital Financing for the health department.
"This study should precede a charrette," Barnard said. "Whether a charrette is necessary depends on what the study finds. We may decide we don't have to go any farther."
Pub Date: 1/17/97