Bright future for Sykesville

Carroll development: Town, state coordinate efforts to develop former hospital center site.

April 19, 2001

AFTER A two-year delay, Sykesville is finally getting the money to transform a 96-acre former state mental hospital site into a magnet for regional economic development.

Carroll County just gave the town $300,000 for engineering studies to determine road and utilities needs. The state recently increased its contribution to nearly $400,000.

Sykesville wants to piggyback its redevelopment efforts with state construction of a police training center at two nearby buildings once used by Springfield Hospital Center, which no longer needs this surplus land.

Maryland will lay water, gas and sewer lines to the complex to serve the statewide training facility. Sykesville will pay for connecting these lines to other buildings on its land, known as the Warfield complex.

It's crucial for the town to survey existing infrastructure and plan its needs now, because the state will start construction next year. That's why the county's commitment of funds is important in long-term planning.

The new town property has 14 old, vacant buildings, some of which will be renovated for lease. All told, Sykesville envisions a $20 million development that could generate 1,200 jobs.

Much of the development in

South Carroll has been unplanned, whatever meets the county's loose zoning code. That has resulted in chock-a-block housing subdivisions and retail sprawl.

Under Sykesville's direction, the Warfield complex offers a golden opportunity for planned and managed economic development, without the pressures for short-sighted, short-term growth.

In partnership with the state and county, the town of 4,200 residents hopes to create a mix of high-tech business and education facilities, with office and retail uses.

Two nonprofit colleges and a few small Internet companies have expressed interest. But the development will need solid, profitable business tenants to succeed. An 80-room hotel and senior housing have been proposed, without specific developers behind them.

With the state and Sykesville moving ahead together, the future is bright for this long-neglected site in southeast Carroll County.

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