Builder details homes design; 5-acre hospital campus would be developed into housing complex; Residents oppose density; 139 units planned for downtown site in historic district


A Virginia developer described plans last night to build 139 housing units on the campus of the Anne Arundel Medical Center in downtown Annapolis.

In response, more than 100 Annapolis residents turned out to tell the McLean-based Madison Homes company how much they loathed the high-density proposal for the 5-acre site.

"Where else in Annapolis do you see 140 units built this closely?" asked W. Minor Carter, president of the Ward One Residents Association, which held the meeting. "What flexibility do you have if the historic district or planning commission says it's too dense? What other footprint in the historic district is this dense?"

Russell S. Rosenberger Jr., president of Madison Homes, disagreed.

"We certainly know that that's an issue that's important," he said. "We hope to be able to convince you that the density you see here is appropriate."

Last night's meeting in the hospital's basement was the first opportunity for downtown residents to take a close look at what might replace Anne Arundel Medical Center when it moves to Parole in 2001.

Ward 1 residents, city officials, business owners and preservationists have been closely watching the site in the thick of downtown Annapolis since officials of the nearly century-old hospital announced their intention to move two years ago.

The campus -- which includes an eight-story building, a five-story parking garage and a historic home that houses offices -- is the largest parcel available for development in the state capital's historic district in decades.

Annapolitans have carefully watched each step of hospital officials' process of picking a developer from the time proposals were solicited in February to the selection of Madison Homes last month.

"We'll never have another piece of property quite this big or quite this important," said Carter.

Madison Homes plans to build condominiums, townhouses and single-family homes on the site. The company plans to tear down the hospital's main building and parking garage and preserve the historic home for a mix of residential units and community use. A preliminary design features condominiums reserved for seniors and single-family homes and townhouses with garages in the back and porches facing the planned community's narrow streets.

When some residents questioned how the city could allow Madison Homes to build 94 condominium units -- almost 50 of which will be reserved for seniors -- Rosenberger said the number of apartments was within zoning regulations because many are age-restricted and qualify as "institutional" dwellings.

When questioned what "institutional" meant, Rosenberger did not provide details, but said the building would likely be equipped with a library, dining facility or general area for medical services.

Pub Date: 10/14/99

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