Harford hospital group gives up on Route 24 site


Upper Chesapeake Health System, which owns Harford County's two hospitals, apparently has abandoned plans to build a new $44.8 million hospital on the Route 24 corridor between Abingdon and Bel Air.

Instead, the health company may be focusing its efforts on building a new hospital on land near Tollgate Mall in south Bel Air. It already owns that land.

"Upper Chesapeake Health System will issue a press release with regard to our intentions when the board has taken a final vote," said Constance F. Row, president and CEO, in a prepared statement read by a spokeswoman. Until then, the statement concludes, "all of this information is premature."

Kim Lovett, corporate director of communications, said the board will meet in early April, but she does not know if this issue is on its agenda.

Last month, Upper Chesapeake was told by state regulators that before it could get approval to proceed with its plans for a new hospital, it would have to choose a definite site.

Yesterday, Upper Chesapeake, which owns Fallston General and Harford Memorial hospitals, allowed an option-to-purchase agreement to expire for a 25-acre site in a planned business park between Bel Air and Abingdon.

Jim Martin, vice president of Art Builders Inc., said Upper Chesapeake officials contacted his company on Thursday to say that they would not exercise their option, and that they were instead going to concentrate on another site in Bel Air.

"We were hoping to get the corporate park started with the hospital, but it looks like we're back to the drawing board," Mr. Martin said of his 140-acre business park called Box Hill South Corporate Center.

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