Selling price for site of Memorial Stadium lowered to $728,000

Nonprofit to build housing community

August 29, 2002|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Following the city's recommendation, the Maryland Stadium Authority approved yesterday a reduced purchase price of $728,000 for the sale of the Memorial Stadium site to a church-based nonprofit in North Baltimore.

Pending state approval, Govans Ecumenical Development Corp. will purchase the site for about one-third of what it had proposed to pay in 1999, when city officials were pondering what to do with the prime piece of city real estate. GEDCO plans to build a senior housing community on the site, which has been the source of political and community squabbling for years.

One reason for reducing the land price, stadium officials said, was that fill material was discovered more than a dozen feet deep under the soil, making part of the site shaky for residential housing construction.

FOR THE RECORD - An article yesterday incorrectly stated the date of the Maryland Stadium Authority's approval of the sale of the Memorial Stadium site to Govans Ecumenical Development Corp. The stadium authority approved the sale Tuesday. The Sun regrets the error.

To solve the problem, GEDCO will have to pay to replace the fill with new soil. The compensation city officials agreed to was $542,000 for the unforeseen soil problem.

"We went to the city and got them to give us a lower price," said the Rev. John "Jack" Sharp, president of GEDCO. "We asked, `Can we make adjustments as a credit for the bad land?'"

Officials with the nonprofit also persuaded city officials to waive the cost of land designated for federally funded low-income senior housing for Stadium Place, a community to be built on the site for 500 mixed-income seniors.

The city also agreed to lower the cost of land for other enhancements that GEDCO plans on the 33rd Street site, including two assisted-living buildings, market-rate housing and an expanded commercial area.

The agreement, worth more than $1 million to GEDCO, must be approved by state officials. The $1 million that the nonprofit would receive in price reduction is money that would have otherwise ended up in the state treasury.

The sale will go before the state Board of Public Works next week for a vote by Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp.

Schaefer made his displeasure with the GEDCO project - which he criticized because it called for demolishing a Baltimore landmark - known when he verbally crossed swords with Mayor Martin O'Malley just before demolition was scheduled to start last year.

The state-funded $5.4 million demolition job was recently finished, and the site is ready to be turned over to GEDCO, Stadium Authority officials said, if the state board approves the sale.

GEDCO plans to redevelop about 17 acres of the 30-acre site. The YMCA will receive the rest of the land free to build the largest recreation center in Baltimore, GEDCO officials said.

To build support and to quiet critics of demolition, Sharp brought in the YMCA as a partner in his group's package, appealing to neighbors who sought more recreation facilities.

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