Expansion of office complex proposed Green Spring Station neighbors say roads can't handle traffic

May 18, 1998|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

For the second time in a month, developers are proposing office buildings at Green Spring Station despite concerns from residents that the projects would overwhelm congested roads.

Developer Howard Brown and William Hirshfeld, owner of the Greenspring Racquet Club, are seeking county approval to build two office buildings and a parking deck at the north end of the property where the racquet club sits.

They plan to ask county officials today to let them apply for building permits, bypassing a public hearing and community input meetings.

The project -- with previously announced plans for a 160,000-square-foot office building -- would double the size of the Green Spring Station office and retail complex and bring as many as 4,000 new commuters to the area, residents contend.

"They are overwhelming us here," said Jorgen Jensen, president of the nearby Heatherfield Home Owners Association.

While the county has promised to buy property to the west of Green Spring Station and turn it into a park -- over the objections of the landowner -- residents say development at the southeast corner of Falls Road and Greenspring Avenue is becoming too intense.

Brown and Hirshfeld propose a five-story, 110,000-square-foot building; a six-story, 132,000-square-foot building; and a three-story parking garage on the site.

Jules Lichter, a lawyer representing Brown, said no tenants have been signed, but added, "The feeling is it would fill up in no time."

Hirshfeld said he did not know when the project would be built.

"There are no plans to tear down the racquet club in the immediate future," he said.

Hirshfeld said the club has operated on the site for 22 years. He would not say how many members it has.

While the sudden interest in Green Spring Station accompanies a resurgence in the real estate market, the complex's location makes it especially attractive, said Terry Dunkin, vice president of Colliers Pinkard, a commercial real estate firm.

Off Interstate 83, Green Spring Station is easily accessible from downtown Baltimore, and recent improvements to the Baltimore Beltway make it more convenient for suburban commuters.

"It gives you the ability to move east and west better than before," Dunkin said. An increase in homes in the Falls Road corridor contributes to the development's popularity, he said. "Office and retail both tend to follow the residential development."

The latest plans were submitted to the county May 6 -- about a week after Foxleigh Enterprises, the developer of Green Spring Station, unveiled plans for a 160,000-square-foot addition to the complex.

Foxleigh wants to build a five-level parking garage, topped by three stories of office space totaling 130,000 square feet.

The project also would contain 30,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor, with the parking.

Residents say they fear Green Spring Station will come to resemble Northern Virginia's Tysons Corner commercial developments and have formed a coalition to oppose the projects.

Last month, county officials promised to stop development from spreading by acquiring a 95-acre parcel across Falls Road from Green Spring Station.

They said they would use part of the land for a park and ball fields and donate the rest to the Maryland Environmental Trust.

But the owner of that property, Clarence Elder, said he has no intention of selling the land and wants a change in zoning that would allow him to build a housing development there.

Pub Date: 5/18/98

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