Residential complex slated along West Street

Mixed-use project at old newspaper site could add to housing momentum

Annapolis

February 02, 2005|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

In the latest sign of an upscale housing boom near downtown Annapolis, a third market-rate residential project is slated to be built a short walk from the historic district.

Madison Homes Inc., based in McLean, Va., has acquired a long-vacant lot in the 200 block of West St. and plans to build a five-story residential and retail brick building on the property, said Russell Rosenberger, a principal leading the project. The lot, where the Capital newspaper building once stood, is just less than 2 acres.

Rosenberger said 62 condominiums of varying sizes will fill most of the West Street structure, which will stand in a large courtyard plaza set back from the busy road. Shops and cafes will be designed into the street-level space, he said, making the courtyard more populated and inviting.

He estimated that the average home price will be $600,000. Seven single-family homes facing the side streets will also be built on the site, he said.

The building is the third major residential development proposed for the West Street corridor. Madison Homes is also redeveloping the nearby Acton's Landing site, where the old Anne Arundel Medical Center was recently razed, in a similar mixed-use model. Its scale is larger, with 106 housing units under construction on 4.5 acres.

The largest project in the state capital's housing surge is the $150 million Park Place, which calls for 166 condominiums on 7 acres. Also planned for the site, at the busy juncture of West Street, Spa Road and Taylor Avenue, are a hotel, offices, stores, cafes and a performing arts center.

City officials, who have bet heavily on brick sidewalks on the first block of West Street to create more charm and ambience for walkers and shoppers, said the new dwellers drawn by the housing boom will enliven the area and make way for a renaissance.

"This is the kind of project the zoning calls for, putting life on the street and making it more vibrant," Tom Smith, a city planner, said of the latest plans for building housing near downtown.

Rosenberger, the Madison Homes developer, predicted that the inner West Street corridor would brighten up at all hours. "We expect it will become more of a 24-hour street, not going dark at the end of a workday," he said.

Annapolis officials expressed optimism about the West Street site, though they have yet to do their formal review of the site design. No public hearings are required to authorize the developer's plans for the West Street site, because zoning changes are not needed to do a mixed-use project.

A ground-breaking is expected late this year, Rosenberger said, with completion scheduled in 2007.

Aware of community concerns about lawsuits alleging that Madison Homes performed shoddy construction in the 1990s under a different company name, city officials have closely monitored the Acton's Landing project.

Mayor Ellen O. Moyer praised the Virginia company. "Their plans have been approved, they've worked with the community, they've sold units and their dealings have been positive," Moyer said, referring to Madison Homes and its Acton's Landing project.

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