Memorial Stadium proposal to be aired

City officials to hear plan for senior housing, YMCA

November 01, 1999|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

City officials were to meet today with representatives of Govans Ecumenical Development Corp. to discuss the group's plan to redevelop the Memorial Stadium site.

Neighborhood groups have expressed optimism about GEDCO's proposal -- called Stadium Place -- to build a YMCA and a retirement community on the site of the stadium where the football Colts and baseball Orioles played for more than four decades.

GEDCO, a nonprofit church-based organization, won a competition this year with a proposal to turn the stadium into a complex that includes housing for senior citizens with low to moderate incomes and a 45,000-square-foot YMCA for all ages.

In the center of Stadium Place, where the YMCA will have playing fields, the baseball diamond would be located in the spot where it was in Memorial Stadium.

Before GEDCO can proceed, however, it must meet a Nov. 8 deadline to show proof of the plan's financial feasibility.

A meeting is scheduled today for the GEDCO team to present the financial plan to Housing and Community Development Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III.

On Saturday, Henson expressed his support for the GEDCO plan at a neighborhood Halloween party sponsored by the group on the stadium's parking lot.

"There's a lot of reasons why this is a success, not least of which was the community," Henson said. "They brought the plan into focus, and it was the community's will."

Competing bids involved a research and technology park and a mixed-use project -- residential, retail and recreational facilities. Neighborhood groups from Waverly, Ednor Gardens and other neighborhoods strongly sided with GEDCO's proposal, which Henson said influenced his selection.

GEDCO officials said Stadium Place could be completed in 2002.

Nearly $10 million of state funds has been allocated for demolition of the stadium.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Henson said recently that a way should be found to preserve the stadium's stone face that contains the large letters -- with numbers that say "1954" -- that make up the dedication to America's dead in World Wars I and II.

Not everyone was enthusiastic about GEDCO's proposal.

"I was disappointed that [the research and technology park] didn't get it. I'm not convinced this is the highest and best use for a parcel this large," said architect David Kimball, an Ednor Gardens resident for 20 years.

But taking the other view was 12-year-old Jermaine Dutton, who said: "Oh, man, that's going to be good" when he saw the drawing of a large swimming pool.

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