Hospital's 5-acre site attracts 12 proposals for redevelopment

Concerned about impact, neighbors watch closely as officials begin review

April 14, 1999|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel Medical Center officials have received 12 proposals from companies interested in developing the hospital's 5 acres of prime Annapolis land once it moves to Parole in two years.

The hospital site in the heart of downtown Annapolis has been a focus of concern for months among residents anxious about who their new neighbors might be and what impact they could have on the community.

Businesses also have been watching the site, envisioning economic opportunities in the largest parcel available for development in the Historic District for decades.

After the Monday deadline for submitting proposals, hospital officials began working on satisfying all parties and ensuring a good economic return. The hospital's 17-member Site Reuse Committee met yesterday to discuss the procedure.

"We're very pleased," said Mary Lou Baker, hospital spokeswoman. "We understand [that 12] is a good number. It's really too soon to really assess in any way the quality of the proposals because they haven't been reviewed."

The number of proposals surprised some on the committee.

"From what I hear, that's a really big number," said committee member Susan K. Zellers, city economic development director. "I can't wait to see what's on the table."

In January, the hospital began sending detailed requests for proposals to 87 developers, outlining criteria for planning what will happen to the 291,000 square-foot hospital building and two residential-style office buildings on the site. The two resident representatives on the Site Reuse Committee sent an additional mailing to the 87 developers two weeks ago emphasizing that the community wants the site to be predominantly residential.

Hospital senior management and two trustees who served on the Site Reuse Committee will review the proposals and come up with a short list of five to 10, which will be reviewed in June by the committee. Committee members will be able to see proposals not on the short list on request, Baker said.

Sandy Cohen, who represents the Murray Hill Residents Association on the committee, said she hopes others will have a say in developing the short list.

"The question that arises now, since the hospital has been fortunate enough to attract as many as 12 proposals, is whether those proposals that may be attractive to the community will be competitive economically in the eyes of the hospital," Cohen said.

"It would be my hope that the hospital will provide to the city and the surrounding community an opportunity during the preliminary selection process to discuss whether there might be ways in which the cooperation of the city and the community could strengthen the competitive position of a favorable proposal, if it should be relatively weak economically," she said.

Baker said that if committee members favor a proposal not on the short list, "it's open for discussion."

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