Hospital site in Annapolis to be converted into homes; Medical center sells building, garage


Anne Arundel Medical Center is selling its 5-acre site in the heart of downtown Annapolis to a Virginia developer who has built residential projects in similar communities nearby, such as Old Town Alexandria, Va.

McLean, Va.-based Madison Homes plans to pack the prime site in the state capital's historic district with 139 condominiums, townhouses and single-family homes after the hospital moves to Parole in 2001. Hospital officials, who picked Madison Homes from four final proposals, would not reveal financial information about the sale because negotiations are continuing.

"It was a very difficult decision for us," Martin L. Doordan, hospital president and chief executive officer, said yesterday. "But we felt this particular project would bring a wonderful replacement for the hospital. ... It just fit. When we added it up, Madison Homes was the winner."

The hospital's decision ended months of contentious debate over the fate of the largest site available for development in Annapolis' historic district in decades. Since hospital officials announced its move to Parole two years ago, Annapolitans, city officials and business owners have stressed that the site's development will have significant impact on the community's character.

'Compromise choice'

Concerned residents said yesterday that they generally supported Madison Homes' plan but opposed its density, calling it a "compromise choice."

"When you look at that footprint, you don't see that anywhere else in Annapolis," said W. Minor Carter, president of downtown's Ward One Residents Association, referring to Madison Homes' plan.

"It looks to be denser than even Bancroft Hall," he added, referring to the Naval Academy dormitory, which is the largest in the country and houses more than 4,000 midshipmen.

Madison Homes proposes tearing down the eight-story hospital building and adjacent five-level parking garage while preserving a historic home -- which houses offices -- for community use. The company's preliminary design features condominiums reserved for seniors and single-family homes and townhouses with garages in the back and front porches facing the community's narrow streets.

Russell S. Rosenberger Jr., Madison Homes' president, said the condominiums are expected to sell for at least $250,000 and the single-family homes and townhouses for more than $500,000. Madison Homes' plans also include a waterfront park and parking for visitors.

The other three finalists -- Baltimore's Struever Bros., Eccles and Rouse; Holladay Group in Washington; and a partnership between David F. Tufaro, the Republican mayoral nominee in Baltimore, and Toll Brothers Inc. in Baltimore -- had also pitched residential proposals.

Residents were most opposed to the Struever Bros.' proposal, which involved preserving the eight-story building for conversion into apartments.

'Fostering involvement'

Rosenberger said his company drew up its proposal in July with suggestions from residents and plans to meet with them before finalizing project designs.

He emphasized that his company has worked closely with residents of several Northern Virginia communities -- including McLean, which he said "has more civic associations than any other city" -- when designing housing developments.

"We have established, through a number of projects, an ability to work with the residents," Rosenberger said. "We can't come in as the developer of the hospital and say, 'OK, this is how we're going to develop the hospital.' We pride ourselves in fostering involvement."

Mayor wants more parking

City residents and officials are gearing up to offer input. Mayor Dean L. Johnson said he plans to suggest adding parking to ease parking problems expected after the hospital's garage is torn down.

Sandy Cohen, president of the Murray Hill Residents Association, said she hopes Madison Homes will modify the design of the red-brick single-family houses and townhouses to make them less uniform.

"The detailing on the facades is very repetitive," said Cohen, who represented Murray Hill on a hospital site reuse advisory committee. "Downtown Annapolis was not built at one time, from plans from one drawing board."

'Progress has been made'

Carter of Ward One said he was looking forward to discussions with Madison Homes.

"We're in halftime now," he said. "The least important score in life is halftime. But I think progress has been made. We're going to try and meet them halfway, and we hope they'll meet us halfway."

Pub Date: 9/25/99

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