Ice rinks proposed at Metro station

Wabash Ave. project would include housing, office, retail space

May 26, 1999|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

An ice age may be coming to Northwest Baltimore.

A Pennsylvania-based development company has proposed building two indoor public ice-skating rinks beside the Reisterstown Plaza Metro station on Wabash Avenue, city and state officials announced yesterday.

The $50 million project by LCOR Inc. on 20 acres of state land would also include 344 apartments, 125 senior housing units, and 55,000 square feet of offices and retail buildings that might include a drugstore, coffee shop, video store and bookstore.

"From a skating perspective, the rinks would be an incredible contribution to Baltimore," said Jim Yeiser, a manager of the Towson-based Chesapeake Skating School. "We don't have much in the city now."

The Northwest Family Sport Center ice rink at 5600 Cottonworth Ave. is open to the public year-round, and the city freezes outdoor ice rinks in Patterson Park and Rash Field during the winter.

The state Mass Transit Administration is studying the Reisterstown Plaza entertainment and apartment complex as a possible way to boost the number of riders on the Metro system and make the station feel safer at night, state officials said.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening is to make a decision on the proposal this fall. The state will hold a community meeting Tuesday at the MTA's offices at Northern Parkway and Mount Hope Drive.

"Governor Glendening gave us a mandate to double transportation ridership by 2020, and that is a very ambitious goal," said John D. Porcari, secretary of transportation.

"One of the ways we are trying to do this is by feeding our transit system -- in this case, not only by building apartments but also hopefully skating rinks."

The city and state are trying to lure figure skater Dorothy Hamill to hold shows at the rinks. Hamill, who lives in Maryland, attended a meeting of the Baltimore Development Corp. about the proposal last month, according to a participant in the meeting.

Hamill could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Neighbors had mixed reactions to the proposal yesterday, with some enthusiastic about the idea of an Olympic-sized ice rink open for figure-skating lessons and hockey games.

Others were skeptical that there are enough skating fans in Northwestern Baltimore to support two more rinks.

"It would be great to provide a place for local kids to go skating. We need something to keep them out of trouble," said Katrina Foxx, a 21-year-old medical assistant who lives near the Metro station.

Annie Williams, a health insurance worker who lives off Reisterstown Road, pointed down the road to a vacant Caldor store and asked why the developers don't fill that huge building before constructing more stores.

"I don't think we need more apartments. There are `vacant' signs in the apartments we have in the area now," said Williams.

The developer would build the apartments and skating rinks on excess parking lots beside the station that the state built when Reisterstown Plaza was the final stop on the Metro line, said Louis Pinkney, director of real estate for the MTA.

The one- to three-bedroom apartments would be rented at market rates, said Karen Adler, executive vice president of LCOR, which is also building an international terminal at JFK Airport in New York.

The apartments would be served by a swimming pool, spa and covered patio area. The ice rinks would have a pro shop, snack bar, arcade, restaurant, weight room and aerobics area, according to state records.

"We see this as a transit village -- an opportunity to bring the community to the Metro station for sports, entertainment and retail," said Adler.

Pub Date: 5/26/99

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