Major development recommended for stadium site Plan would raze Memorial Stadium and Eastern High.


Just about all that will be left to remind anyone of the 55-acre site where Memorial Stadium and Eastern High School currently sit is the urn that honors past war veterans.

At least that is the recommendation of a group of consultants hired to propose a development plan for the city parcel that straddles a portion of 33rd Street.

The consultants' proposal calls for the demolition of the vacant Eastern High, which residents had hoped to preserve, and the razing of Memorial Stadium, which already is planned.

The urn, now within the stadium, would be placed in a smaller memorial overlooking a central, 8-acre grassy area that would mark the current baseball infield.

The proposal for the rest of the property, presented last night to residents whose homes surround the site, is much more aggressive and calls for a mix of residential and office buildings.

Residents, many of whom had been involved in the plans for the site early on, expressed general approval of the plan with some reservations.

David Miller, president of Better Waverly, said the proposal can be commended for what it leaves out.

He was referring to the absence of a recommendation calling for public housing at the site.

"For the last four years, we have had persistent rumors that there would be public housing on the site," he said. "Now, we clearly have a proposal that dispels that rumor."

However, Miller said he was disappointed the consultants did not recommend saving Eastern High and building owner-occupied housing for the southern portion of the site, which abuts Better Waverly.

The consultant team, led by K.S. Sweet Associates of Radnor, Pa., concluded that the cost of renovating Eastern would exceed the cost of demolition and new construction combined.

The team recommended the building be torn down as soon as possible to make the site more attractive to a potential developer.

The southern portion of the parcel then should be developed as a series of office buildings surrounding two parking garages, the report said.

A small portion of land at 33rd Street and Loch Raven Boulevard is set aside as a "public opportunity" site.

Consultants said this would be an ideal location for a State Math and Science High School such as the one proposed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

Property to the immediate north of 33rd Street also would have some office development, but primarily would be reserved for a cluster of 213 townhouses with alleys and off-street parking similar to existing neighborhoods in the area.

Cecilia Firstenberg, president of the Ednor Gardens Lakeside Neighborhood Association, labeled the plan "pretty positive overall."

She said the consultants had done a good job of incorporating recommendations of a task force that included community representatives.

Still, Firstenberg said, she is concerned that the residential portion of the plan may create an exclusive community on the order of Village of Cross Keys, the Rouse Co. planned community along Falls Road between Cold Spring Lane and Northern Parkway.

Whatever is built on the site may be a long time in coming. City officials are estimating the project will be built in phases over 15 years.

The proposal still faces further scrutiny by city officials, including Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

Even if the redevelopment plan is given a green light, much still will depend on finding developers able to work within the proposed guidelines and banks willing to finance the project.

Ellen Miller, a partner at K.S. Sweet Associates, said the project will need more than $100 million in private funding.

Other officials called that estimate conservative.

While the consultants recommended speedy demolition of Eastern High, no time frame was given for tearing down the stadium.

Schmoke has said he wants the stadium to remain at least until October 1992, when the city hopes to find out whether it will be included in the first round of National Football League expansion.

A new football team would take up residence in the stadium until a new facility could be constructed.

Some residents last night expressed concern that allowing the stadium to remain indefinitely might stall proposed development the site.

But Ellen Miller said that, in light of current economic conditions, it is unlikely that a residential home builder would be able to propose a project and begin building in the near future.

"A delay [in demolishing the stadium] from the ongoing development point of view may not be all that bad," she said.

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