Neighbors mail wish list for medical center

Groups tell developers they want Annapolis site to meet residential needs

April 07, 1999|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

Eager to see the Anne Arundel Medical Center campus in downtown Annapolis redeveloped in a way that fits in with its surroundings, representatives of nearby residential communities have written to prospective developers about what they will find acceptable.

"The surrounding community desires restoration of a majority of the site to residential, round-the-clock occupancy to enhance and support the residential character of the neighborhood," representatives of the Murray Hill Residents Association and Ward One Residents Association stated in a three-page advisory mailed last week to prospective developers.

"A project that removes or modifies the present large structures and restores appropriate residential scale and appearance to the neighborhood would, therefore, be preferred to an adaptive reuse of the existing hospital tower and other buildings of institutional scale and character," the community representatives stated.

Also desirable, they said, would be commercial establishments that could "support the viability of downtown as a residential community," such as a grocery, drugstore or bookstore; services such as a medical clinic, pharmacist or hairdresser; or cultural and natural amenities ranging from a park to a small theater.

Townhouses, condominiums, single-family housing or a nursing facility would fit in with the neighborhood objectives, according to the statement. With residences and neighborhood-oriented commercial activity, offices also would be acceptable, representatives said.

Proposal deadline

The Anne Arundel Health System has set Monday as the deadline for proposals from groups interested in redeveloping its 5-acre downtown campus, the largest development parcel in the historic district.

The tract includes the property surrounded by Shaw, South, Cathedral and Franklin streets and the parking lot south of South Street. It will be available for redevelopment by late 2001, after the medical center opens a $65 million facility under construction in Parole. Developers also were invited to bid on an office building at 51 Franklin St.

The advisory was mailed April 2 to 87 individuals or groups that received the medical center's official request for development proposals this year.

Community representatives drafted the letter to make sure prospective developers knew what the property's neighbors wanted.

Sandy Cohen, president of Murray Hill Residents Association and a member of the medical center's Site Re-Use Advisory Committee, was lead author of the advisory.

Cohen said she is aware of the health system's mailing, but she wanted to provide information to help developers prepare proposals that would win community acceptance.

Cohen added that she hoped to convey that the community is prepared to "go to bat" for proposals that it likes, and would be willing to consider flexibility "even in the use or replacement of historically protected structures and zoning requirements" for a project that meets the community's criteria.

`Clarify and elaborate'

She said some developers have contacted community representatives, and she wanted to make sure that they have the same information.

"We do not see these as new criteria, but an attempt to clarify and elaborate on the originally published criteria and provide all potential proposers with similar information so they will have the benefit of the community's perspective," she said.

For the property's neighbors, "the threshold issue is use," she said. "It's a big site and a big opportunity. We would like to invite really imaginative proposals. We want to encourage people to think anew about this site."

After the proposals are received, the Anne Arundel Health System plans to develop a list of finalists by next month. Finalists will be invited to present their proposals to the medical community's selection committee, and a choice is expected by August.

`Spirit of cooperation'

The medical center is working with community representatives and others to make sure it selects the best proposal, said spokeswoman Mary Lou Baker.

"The fact that we provided them with the list [of prospective developers for the mailing] is an indication of the spirit of cooperation," she said. "The hospital has been on that property since 1902 and wants to leave a proper legacy."

Pub Date: 4/07/99

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