Baltimore County panel approves plans for medical office building in Catonsville

A Baltimore County Design Review Panel has approved plans for a new medical office building on a site now occupied by the county's Department of Social Services at 910 Frederick Road.

The building will be owned by Orthopedic Associates of Central Maryland, which is now operating on Benson Avenue in Baltimore.

The four-person panel made up of land planners, landscape architects and architects gave its OK with only a few minor conditions during a Wednesday evening meeting in Towson.

"I think the building is a great building," said panel member Ed Hord, founder and senior principal of Hord Coplan Macht, an architecture and landscape architecture firm with headquarters on Pratt Street in Baltimore.

"I think it's a step above what you would normally see in that sort of an office building in Catonsville," he said. "I think it's well designed. There were just a couple of comments that were pretty minor."

Those comments included requests for more green space in the parking lot and more windows on the front facade of the building.

Panel member Shannon Comer Dodge

said that addition of windows would help align the front facade with others on that stretch of Frederick Road, such as the Hilton Flower Shop, at 906 Frederick Road, and AE-Z Driving School, at 835 Frederick Road.

"Potentially adding more windows and maybe there's a way ... that allows you to still have the program you want there but still the privacy," Dodge said.

Panel member Melanie Moser said her biggest concern was the lack of trees to provide shade in the parking lot.

"If we're spending all this great money for a new building, make it be a welcoming place outside as well as inside," Moser said after the meeting.

Lynn Lanham said Solstice Partners, the real estate company working with Orthopedic Associates, brought the plans to the county more than two months ago.

Lanham, who works for Baltimore County Development Review, said that if the comments mentioned by Wednesday's panel are addressed, the project will begin the process of acquiring permits for the development process.

Jeff Jacobson, the representative from Solstice at Wednesday's meeting, said his client is very excited to move into Catonsville.

"They wanted to be in a more active kind of neighborhood environment. They wanted to be in an area that was a walking town. They wanted to be on a main arterial. They wanted to be near the Beltway," Jacobson said.

"They thought this was a better location," he said. "And actually, more of their client base is surrounding this location than their current facility on Benson Avenue. And they wanted to own their project as well."

Solstice is working with the estate of Tom Booth, the current owner of the building, to allow its client to purchase the building.

"I think they understand the benefits of being an owner-occupied (business) in an active town," Jacobson said. "I think they see the fabric of Catonsville. They want to be able to walk to lunch, they want patients to be able to walk there."

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