UB president says Odorite can't be reused

Bogomolny defends plan to raze building in court

January 15, 2004|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

The president of the University of Baltimore testified yesterday in city Circuit Court about the university's plans to demolish a 1915 building known as the Odorite, saying he felt the building "could not be reused."

The university is being sued by two homeowners who are trying to save the mock Tudor building, formerly used as an automobile showroom. University officials want to turn the site into a student center.

"We felt the building could not be reused," testified President Robert Bogomolny. "We were getting questions about why we couldn't use part of the building. We thought reusing part of the building would add a significant cost. We also felt the building was not consistent with our plans."

Bogomolny has said his plans are to tear down the Odorite building and replace it with a $13.9 million, five-story structure. The student center, scheduled to open by the summer of 2005, would include a bookstore, theater and food court.

Standing at Maryland and Mount Royal avenues in the Mount Vernon historic area, the Odorite building has been the subject of a bitter dispute for years. The lawsuit was filed in November by Baltimore Heritage Inc., a citywide historical and preservation group.

On Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Evelyn Omega Cannon decided that Baltimore Heritage does not have legal standing to sue the university because it does not own property near the Odorite building. But the judge allowed two homeowners who live in the area to become last-minute plaintiffs, a decision that allowed the suit to proceed.

The aim of the lawsuit is to force the university to halt its plans and consult "in good faith" with the Heritage trust about the future of the building. That way, preservationists say, there is a chance of saving the building.

"We want to ensure the student center would not have an adverse effect on the Odorite if there's a prudent and feasible alternative," said Thomas J. Cosgrove, an attorney for Baltimore Heritage.

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