Mayor supports demolition of hospital

Officials ponder plans for site after move

August 25, 1999|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

Annapolis Mayor Dean L. Johnson added his two cents yesterday on what should be done with the Anne Arundel Medical Center building when the hospital moves in 2001 from its prime downtown site to the city's outskirts: demolition.

Johnson said he hopes hospital officials will pick a development plan that involves tearing down the eight-story building when they announce their choice in late September.

Their decision will resolve a tense debate over redevelopment of the 5-acre site in the heart of the state capital.

Of the four final development proposals hospital officials are considering, one -- by the Baltimore firm Struever Brothers, Eccles and Rouse -- involves retaining the 291,000-square-foot building and the hospital's adjacent garage.

"I think it's a design that's not appropriate to that part of town anymore," Johnson said. "It never was, but it was permitted to happen."

The mayor's view echoes that of several groups that have anxiously watched the site -- the largest parcel available for development in the historic district for at least a century -- since hospital officials announced the plan to move two years ago.

Ward One Residents Association, a prominent downtown group, voted last month to lobby hospital officials to choose demolition.

And the Historic Annapolis Foundation, a preservation advisory group, sent a letter recently to hospital officials urging the same.

"We feel that it is important," said Elizabeth Tune, a Historic Annapolis spokeswoman. "Otherwise, you have a building that would far exceed the height and bulk limits of the historic district. It would be a sore thumb in the area. If you put something in the historic district that doesn't go along with what surrounds it, it really undermines the point of having the district."

In addition to the hospital building and five-story parking garage, the site includes two historic homes used for office space and a parking lot covering nearly an acre.

The Struever Brothers proposal involves converting the hospital building into condominiums costing at least $300,000, and retail and office space.

The two historic homes would be put to residential or retail use.

The other three proposals also call for residential development, but in a style in keeping with other homes in the area and without the hospital building.

Holladay Group of Washington wants to build assisted-living units, townhouses and single-family homes; Maryland-based Madison Homes Inc. and a partnership between David F. Tufaro and Toll Brothers Inc. in Baltimore want to build condominium units, townhouses and single-family homes.

All three propose residential, retail or office use for the historic homes.

Historic Annapolis supported the Holladay Group and Madison Homes plans in its letter to hospital officials.

W. Minor Carter, president of the Ward One Residents Association, said he was "delighted" that Johnson spoke in support of demolishing the hospital building.

"This is certainly an important acknowledgment by him," Carter said. "I would think that when the largest resident association in Annapolis, Historic Annapolis and the mayor all say that the garage and tower ought to come down, the prudent course would be to look at one of the other three proposals, rather than go in opposition of the mayor, Historic Annapolis and Ward One."

Lisa Hillman, hospital vice president for development and community affairs, said the committee selecting a proposal will consider the opinions of Johnson and the community groups.

"Our aim is to leave as a good neighbor," Hillman said. "We pretty much know how the mayor and everybody else feels."

Pub Date: 8/25/99

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