County considers moving to medical center buildings when hospital relocates Feasibility study for project under way

January 25, 1998|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County officials are taking a preliminary look at turning Anne Arundel Medical Center's downtown buildings into a new seat of county government after the hospital moves its operations to Jennifer Road in four years.

Moving to the hospital site, which covers most of a city block at the edge of Annapolis' downtown Historic District, would enable the county to consolidate all its offices -- some of which are at the sprawling Heritage complex on Riva Road outside the city.

The county has hired a consultant for $29,000 who is reviewing architectural and other issues involved in renovations such as whether the hospital's auditorium could be made suitable for County Council meetings, said Jerome Klasmeier, county general services chief. Much of the hospital building already is chopped into office and conference-sized rooms. Without remodeling, what are now patient rooms would give new occupants a perk generally associated with high-ranking executives: private bathrooms.

The feasibility study by Baker and Associates is due to county officials in several weeks.

If the county government were to move to the hospital, the county probably would sell the Heritage complex and the Arundel Center, which is across the street from state offices. State officials have twice approached the county about selling the Arundel Center, Klasmeier said.

"If the circumstances were such that the Arundel Center would be for sale or for lease, the state would give that serious consideration," said Dave Humphrey, spokesman for the state General Services Department.

But the AAMC site's traffic situation may be hopeless and parking is a likely problem, said Lisa Ritter, spokeswoman for County Executive John G. Gary. Government's less flexible work hours probably would contribute to greater congestion in the neighborhood, she said.

In addition, the hospital may be larger than the county needs. It has roughly 390,000 square feet of floor space. The Arundel Center and Heritage combine for 330,000 square feet, Klasmeier said.

A 16-member committee organized last year by the hospital is expected to make its recommendations this spring for reuse of the building, but the committee will not suggest specific uses, said Lisa Hillman, AAMC vice president for development and community affairs.

AAMC's move will take Annapolis' third-largest employer and about 1,800 jobs out of the city, which hopes to replace that stable economic base. Other ideas for using the site at Franklin and Cathedral streets are for physician services, assisted-living housing, office space, retail space, a walk-in health care center and an urgent-care center.

Pub Date: 1/25/98

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