Prospective Rotunda buyer tries to ease neighbors' fears

Company: no demolition or big-box store in works

February 02, 2005|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

The prospective purchaser of the Rotunda shopping center in North Baltimore would not demolish the distinctive building or put up a rumored big-box store at the site, a local official of the company reportedly told residents and community leaders last night.

Rumors had been circulating in neighboring Hampden, Wyman Park, Medfield and Roland Park that Hekemian and Co. of Hackensack, N.J., which has a contract to buy the Rotunda, wanted to bring in a Home Depot or Wal-Mart.

There was also talk that Hekemian wanted to tear down the Rotunda, portions of which were built nearly a century ago as home to the Maryland Casualty Co.

Those who attended a public meeting at the Rotunda last night were relieved to learn that no such plans exist, said Kathleen Talty, president of the Wyman Park Community Association, who was present along with about 20 other neighborhood and business leaders.

"The contract purchaser said there will be no big-box stores," Talty said after they heard from Chris Bell, an official in Hekemian's Annapolis office who would oversee renovations if the sale takes place.

"Another concern was with regard to the part of the building that faces 40th Street," Talty said. "The contract purchaser said they were equally impressed with the building."

Talty said Hekemian officials have until March to decide if they want to buy the shopping center. If that happens, Hekemian would try to bring in new businesses, including a restaurant or two, and would spruce up the shopping center inside and out, Talty said of Bell's explanation.

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