Garage details remain in flux

Maryland plans facility near historic district

City wants to review project

Parking is to serve workers for state

July 25, 2004|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

A massive parking garage in the historic state capital is no small undertaking - especially when the state is planning a square, utilitarian structure at the gateway to the city's historic district at Bladen and Calvert streets.

Even as demolition looms at that site for 30 vacant and dilapidated units of the former Bloomsbury Square public housing community, officials are nailing down details of a planned 800-space state parking garage on the prime Annapolis property.

City officials proud of the quiet, sparkling streets of the new Bloomsbury Square community - which opened in November next to the vacant buildings - are keeping a close eye on plans for the former site.

"The city would like to have an opportunity to review this project and its compatibility, just as we did when we made the new Bloomsbury Square part of the Annapolis landscape," Donna Hole, chief of historic preservation for Annapolis, said.

The view from Bladen and Calvert frames the white dome and columns of the State House and the skyline of the surrounding capital complex at the entrance to the city.

But state officials say there is a pressing long-term need for a garage with as many as four above-ground levels for state government parking at the former Bloomsbury site.

About 400 parking spots were lost when a city-state land swap made way for the new Bloomsbury Square community and an eventual expansion of the nearby Lowe House of Delegates state office building, said Dave Humphrey, a spokesman for the state's Department of General Services.

The first step - with work beginning this summer - is to clear space for a surface parking lot with 153 spaces in time for next year's General Assembly session.

Shareese N. DeLeaver, a spokeswoman for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., said the governor's office is "hopeful" that a state parking garage will be built on the property, noting that the project is in a preliminary stage and would not be completed until 2006 or 2007.

The state government is exempt from city codes and laws governing building in the heart of the city.

But both sides say a constructive conversation is shaping up about the anticipated garage, even though the city has no enforcement power over a state building project.

The picture is complicated by the coming demolition of the dilapidated former Bloomsbury Square units.

The St. John's College campus is another neighbor to the Bladen and Calvert street property.

Humphrey said state officials will continue to consult with city and college officials as plans for a state parking garage progress.

On nights and weekends, he said, the state parking facility might be open to the public, easing the tourist crunch that the waterfront city faces every summer.

For aesthetic purposes, Humphrey said, the side that is nearest the State House would be set back from the road.

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