Park Place developers to discuss proposals; Planned 7-acre project on West Street raises concerns in Annapolis


Those with concerns about an ambitious multipurpose complex on 7 acres at West Street and Taylor Avenue in Annapolis can raise them at an open house tonight.

The project, to be called Park Place, would include a 225-room hotel, two office buildings, a 950-seat auditorium, 208 condominiums and a 1,400-space parking garage.

Developers of the project -- which would raze several buildings -- will appear at an informational session from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at the site at 284 West St. A second session is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and will include activities for children.

The project's architects, transit consultants and developers plan to discuss the development stages of Park Place and how it fits into the city's revitalization plans for West Street. Participants may ask questions and offer comments.

"There will be a series of stations set up which will walk through the evolution of the project," said Robert G. Kramer, a consultant for Park Place.

Focus group

Annapolis developer Jerome J. Parks has worked closely with the city and residents to make his $101 million dream into a reality. Developers have been meeting with members of the community for seven months, and about two months ago started a focus group of 20 area residents and business leaders to provide input.

"We've made about 20 changes to the project based on public input," Kramer said.

One change to the five-story office building, which would face West Street, involves layering -- using stories of varying sizes. Other changes to the project include creating a pedestrian entrance to the hotel facing Westgate Circle and landscaping the property.

Preliminary plans were submitted to the city's Planning and Zoning Department in mid-October, and work sessions and meetings have been held since then. Parks has said construction would be in stages.

The city's Planning Commission has scheduled public hearings for May 10, 11, 13 and 16. The commission will send its recommendation to the city's Board of Appeals, which will hold its own public hearings.

Parks needs approval from both agencies to move forward.

The Annapolis developer has said he's done economic studies that show a need for hotel, residential and business services in Annapolis.

Traffic impact

Residents have voiced concern about traffic impact, street encroachment and the height of some of the buildings.

Erich J. Rose, chairman of the Ward One Residents Association's Inner West Street development committee and a member of the focus group, said the five-story office building planned to face West Street has raised some questions.

"We believe that it's just a little bit overpowering," Rose said.

The association also has asked to see scale models of the project in relation to the surrounding area, Rose said, but the developer has not provided them.

"Then, we can see the whole project in its entirety and see the big picture," Rose said. "It's a humongous project, no question about it."

Kramer said architects are working on a scale model of the project, but it won't be available for two weeks.

Park Place is one of several projects seen as key to the revitalization of inner West Street, a thoroughfare of fine restaurants and shops in the 1950s.

The city plans major renovations for the stretch from Church Circle to Westgate Circle, which is adjacent to the proposed Park Place.

In his proposed 2001 budget, Mayor Dean L. Johnson has allocated $8.6 million to build a 400- to 450-space garage at West Street and Colonial Avenue -- which would be called Cecil and Martha Knighton Facility.

The budget also allocates $11.9 million for West Street renovations, such as resurfacing and replacing its 120-year-old water lines and outdated sewer system.

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