Memorial Stadium's fate depends on developers' plans, officials say Proposals to redevelop property due by Jan. 8

November 16, 1998|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

With less than two months before proposals are due for redevelopment of the 29.5-acre Memorial Stadium property in North Baltimore, city officials have not determined whether the stadium will stay up or come down.

At a workshop for prospective developers last week, Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III and Planning Director Charles C. Graves III said the stadium's fate depends on the proposals submitted by the city's Jan. 8 deadline.

"In terms of desirable properties, I think this is the best piece of developable dirt in the city, and I hope you give it the best dTC proposal you can," Henson told a room full of developers at the hourlong workshop in his office.

The community wants proposals that show an understanding of the area's history and heritage, but exactly how that translates to a development proposal, "we leave that up to you," Graves said.

"We are leaving the gate open for the most part as far as determining the best and highest use," Graves said. "It's nearly 30 acres with great access to downtown and [the Johns] Hopkins University I encourage you to think creatively."

The city-owned stadium at 1000 E. 33rd St. has been dormant for 11 months, since the Ravens foot- ball team played the last game there before moving this summer to Camden Yards. It was home for many years to the Baltimore Orioles and Colts.

The land is surrounded by several residential communities, including Ednor Gardens/Lakeside, Waverly, Better Waverly, and Coldstream/Homestead/Montebello.

According to city officials, proposals could be for residences, offices, recreational uses or some combination.

The city also would be receptive to a use "that would provide exceptional benefits both to the surrounding community and to the city as a whole," such as "a world-class research facility, a well-funded cultural or educational institution" or a major athletic center.

Graves said community representatives have indicated they do not want to consider proposals that call for retail space to be the predominant use since that could hurt the existing commercial strip along Greenmount Avenue. But he said commercial space can be supplemental to other uses.

Graves explained that the city is prepared to turn "a cleared site" over to the winning developer, if the selected proposal calls for that, and that the city's public works department has begun the planning needed to raze the stadium.

Preliminary plans call for the removal of 82,000 cubic yards of rubble, including the parking lot surface as well as the stadium itself. Metal letters on the stadium's front facade would be removed and put in storage for possible relocation.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening has pledged that the state would allocate up to $10 million to help pay for demolition of the stadium. The project could begin next spring and be completed by the end of 2000, according to the city's projected schedule.

Planning for demolition would not preclude a creative proposal for retention of the stadium, Graves said. "If we had a great proposal that looked at reuse, we would entertain that and take it to the community."

Representatives of the Dome Corp., the real estate development arm of the Johns Hopkins University, disclosed last summer that they have been developing plans to save the horseshoe-shaped stadium and convert it to a $45 million development containing 300,000 to 400,000 square feet of offices, laboratories and retail activity.

After that disclosure, city and state officials said they would postpone any stadium demolition work until the proposals are submitted.

Dome is converting the former Eastern High School property on 33rd Street to a mixed-use center containing educational and office space and a high-tech business incubator.

Dome officials say they are still completing economic feasibility studies to determine whether to submit a proposal for the stadium property.

Henson said the money available for razing the stadium could not be applied to rehabbing it. "It's for demolition or nothing," he said.

Pub Date: 11/16/98

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