Health center land sold

State sells 105 acres of Rosewood campus in Owings Mills

Houses, synagogue planned

Facility for disabled not slated to close, Md. official says

September 24, 2001|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

Three decades after Rosewood Center began deinstitutionalizing its 2,800 developmentally disabled residents, the state has begun to sell pieces of the center's valuable Owings Mills property.

This month, the state sold 105 acres for $2.2 million to Harrison Land Corp., an affiliate of two Owings Mills development companies, Chesapeake Realty and Development Inc. and Macks and Macks Inc. The land is at Gwynnbrook Avenue and Owings Mills Boulevard.

The corporation plans to build 133 homes on 63 acres and donate 7.6 acres for a synagogue. Thirty-four acres of woodlands will remain untouched.

Leslie A. Smith, Rosewood's clinical and program services director, said the center is reducing its holdings as it continues to send residents to live in community settings. There are no plans to close Rosewood, she added.

The land that was sold is broken into two parcels on either side of Gwynnbrook Avenue. It is in one of the last undeveloped areas of Owings Mills, a Baltimore County-designated growth area where the population climbed from 9,474 to 20,193 during the last decade, according to U.S. Census figures.

"It's an excellent location. It has good shopping, good jobs, good schools and plans for good roadways," said Jonathan Mayers, president of Chesapeake Realty.

Mayers said his company is hiring three builders to construct "high-end" houses that will sell for between $260,000 and $390,000. He said he hopes construction will begin by next summer.

Chesapeake Realty is donating almost 8 acres to a modern Orthodox synagogue to be called Owings Mills Synagogue Center, said Samuel J. Stone, co-president of the congregation. Now called the Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah Congregation, it is composed of 225 families who worship in a building in the 7000 block of Rockland Hills Drive.

Stone said he hopes the new location will lure younger Jewish families who have moved to Owings Mills.

"There is no Orthodox synagogue out there," he said, adding that the synagogue needs to raise a few million dollars before it begins to build next fall.

The acreage that is being sold is surplus property used as farmland. However, the state also plans to sell land containing historic buildings on the main campus near Rosewood Lane east of Reisterstown Road.

The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, an umbrella group of several organizations and institutions, is interested in buying between 40 and 60 acres, possibly for a nursing home or a Jewish high school, said Lawrence M. Ziffer, vice president for community development.

"There is a portion of the historic campus they are looking to sell as a unit for institutional use," said Ziffer.

Rosewood was built in 1888 as the Asylum and Training School for the Feeble Minded, according to Maryland State Archives. It was renamed several times and in 1969 became Rosewood Center. At that time, it was home to 2,767 people.

During the 1970s, the state began placing the developmentally disabled in community settings as part of the deinstitutionalization movement. Today, 231 people live on the campus, said Elizabeth G. Barnard, director of the Office of Planning and Capital Financing at the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Rosewood originally was located on more than 600 acres of farm and woodlands. In the 1970s, however, Baltimore County earmarked Owings Mills as a future growth area. Since then, the surrounding area has been rapidly developed.

The state leases 60 acres of the campus to the Maryland Economic Development Corp. for businesses. Fifteen acres on the east side of Garrison Forest Road have been donated to the Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery and 116 acres were given to the nonprofit Irvine Nature Center, which will move from the grounds of St. Timothy's School on Greenspring Avenue in two years.

The money from the recent sale goes into the Developmental Disabilities Administration's Community Services Trust Fund, created in 1996 to finance services for people with developmental disabilities.

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