Plan for offices on Severn unveiled

David Taylor Center redevelopment calls for three campuses

November 29, 2001|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Developers who plan to turn the concrete compound of the former David Taylor Research Center into a cluster of elegant executive office buildings presented a first glimpse of what the future holds for the Navy site near Annapolis at a meeting with an advisory committee last night.

Annapolis Partners, the development group planning to spend about $250 million to redevelop the former military base, offered such details as seven new buildings to be constructed, landscaping that will include about 600 trees, and - of critical interest to the community - 1,968 parking spaces.

The meeting followed by one day the release of a timeline for the project that sets final transfer of the property from the Navy to developers by May.

The meeting of the David Taylor Reuse Advisory Committee was its first since August, and had been highly anticipated. It was the first time anyone other than select county officials was able to view architectural and landscaping plans for the site.

A member of the development team, Ming Wu, a principal with Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects of New York City, told the committee that Annapolis Partners will demolish all but three of 80 existing buildings. The three that will remain, including a historic warehouse, will be renovated slightly to fit the modern style of the new complex, he said.

The tallest building at the site, which faces the Naval Academy across the Severn River, will have four floors, Wu said.

There will be two parking garages and one outdoor parking lot. All buildings, including a 100-room inn, will be constructed of red brick and nonreflective glass that will recall the "long, elegant" warehouses of historic seaports, he said.

The office buildings will be constructed so that only their "noses" - the slimmest profile possible - will face the Severn River, he said.

The largely vacated research center site is covered with buildings, concrete walkways and asphalt drives. In wet weather, the runoff contributes to pollution of the river, Wu said. Annapolis Partners plans to improve storm-water management, he said.

Some members of the Taylor committee had been critical of the county's handling of the project. But with the presentation last night, Wu encouraged them to get excited about the concepts.

"Together we can give the site a new lease on life," he said.

Anne Arundel County officials and representatives of the Navy settled real estate issues for the facility last month and are reviewing legal papers to make the transfer final, said county special projects manager Jerome W. Klasmeier.

"We still have lawyers doing to each other what lawyers do to each other when they have 22 pages of legal documents in front of them," said Klasmeier.

He will meet with more lawyers today to review three bills that he hopes to present to the County Council in January. Legislation is necessary to complete the real estate transfer.

Navy and county officials are eager to transfer the 46-acre property to private hands, including local businessman Maurice B. Tose, president and CEO of TeleCommunication Systems Inc. of Annapolis.

Despite a drastic dip in the stock market value of TCS shares, Tose is expected to invest about $20 million to help finance the deal. His company expects to be one of the first to move into two new buildings at the renovated site, which will be divided into three areas.

The first area will be called "Hilltop Campus." Two other campuses - "Severn" and "Dungan" - will be built in later phases, as market forces allow.

Another member of the development partnership, and the one bringing the most cash to the table, is Mesirow Stein Real Estate of Chicago. The firm has a track record for redeveloping former military bases, including two in Illinois, and is rehabilitating a former naval training center in Orlando, Fla.

Klasmeier, recently tapped by County Executive Janet S. Owens to put the David Taylor project on a fast track to completion, said that a traffic survey is still in the works.

Although the survey had been set for release yesterday, it had to be redone after developers scaled back the project from 730,000 square feet to 630,000 square feet. That change will have an impact on the number of employees, parking spaces and traffic.

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