Marine research center scaled back to cut costs


The proposed Christopher Columbus Center for Marine Research and Exploration has been reduced slightly in size but remains on track for a groundbreaking Oct. 12.

Representatives of the Christopher Columbus Center Development Inc., the non-profit group building the $164 million marine research and exhibit center on Piers 5 and 6, showed Baltimore's Architectural Review Board revised plans last week that call for three floors of laboratories instead of four and a slightly narrower, less grandiose exhibit space.

Stanley Heuisler, chairman of the non-profit group, said the changes were needed to keep the building within its budget. He said the amount of space allotted to various components will not be reduced significantly.

For example, he said, each of the three floors of laboratories will be deeper than those in the four-story version. Also, a 350-seat auditorium has been eliminated, but more seminar rooms and wet laboratories have been added.

The Columbus Center board unveiled preliminary designs in the spring that called for the complex to have 181,000 square feet of laboratory space for Maryland's Center of Marine Biotechnology; a 10,200-square-foot training center; a 20,000-square-foot Center for Marine Archaeology; and a 33,300-square-foot exhibit area beneath a Teflon-coated fiberglass roof.

The project is still expected to open in late 1994 and will have room for expansion on the east side of Pier 6, Mr. Heuisler said.

Mariner Health Care

Mariner Health Care of Mystic, Conn., has bought the former Homewood Hospital from the Johns Hopkins Health System for $4 million and plans to spend nearly $2 million to convert it to a 136-bed comprehensive nursing facility by spring.

The Hopkins Health System sold the building after closing it as an acute-care hospital more than a year ago. Mariner plans to rename it Mariner Health Care of Baltimore and to offer nursing and rehabilitative services while leasing surplus space to other health-care providers. The project is expected to create as many as 200 jobs.

Plans by Gould Architects include the demolition of six vacant town houses in the 2700 block of N. Charles St. to create an entry drive.

Meditrust, a real estate investment trust based in Waltham, Mass., financed the project, Mariner's first in Maryland. The company operates eight health-care facilities in the Northeast with a total of 1,000 beds. Tom Coburn, Mariner's regional vice president of operations, will oversee the Baltimore project.

Hyman Construction

The George Hyman Construction Co. of Bethesda has signed a $187 million contract with the U.S. Postal Service to build a 1.5 million-square-foot general mail plant in downtown Chicago. It is Hyman's seventh major project for the Postal Service.

Hyman also has begun construction of a $33.6 million, 180,000-square-foot federal district courthouse in Greenbelt. The Washington office of Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum is the architect.

Around the region:

* Medical Center Inc., a company headed by Alberto Sant Antonio, has bought a 15,000-square-foot medical building at 901 Eastern Blvd., near Marlyn Avenue, from Marlyn Medical Joint Venture for $1.2 million. Arnold Rudo of The David Kornblatt Co. represented the buyer and seller.

* City housing department officials have decided to raze nine buildings on the west side of the 2000 block of Maryland Ave., the site of a fire this summer. The properties at 2016 to 2032 Maryland Ave. were to be recycled by a local business group, but it dropped its plans days before the fire. City officials say they will raze the buildings but that the privately owned building at 2014 Maryland Ave. will remain. City officials say they are seeking a new strategy to promote redevelopment of the area.

* Oak Street AME Church, on Howard Street near 23rd Street, is building a sanctuary and fellowship hall in the former city school No. 308 at Howard and 24th streets. Marks Thomas & Associates is the architect, and Citation Builders is the general contractor. Work will be completed this month.

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