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Northern police station proposals sought; June 12 deadline is set, with decision due by Sept.


For a century and a year, the three-story, Victorian-style brick building near Wyman Park and the Johns Hopkins University in North Baltimore has been one of the city's neighborhood police stations.

Now, the city's economic development agency has begun soliciting proposals from developers for a new use for the Northern District police station, which opened in 1899 and is being replaced by a new station on West Cold Spring Lane.

The Baltimore Development Corp. (BDC) has scheduled a conference with developers tomorrow at the station in the 3300 block of Keswick Road. The station is nearing designation by the city as a historic landmark.

The corporation has set a June 12 deadline for submission of proposals and, after presentations to the community, expects to select a plan by early September, about the time the police move is expected to be completed.

"The most important thing that we're looking for is to have a viable project that will bring jobs and benefits to Hampden and the Wyman Park community," said Veronica Owens, an economic development officer with the BDC.

A community representative expressed satisfaction that the city had begun advertising the building's availability.

"I'm just happy the process is moving forward," said Odette Ramos, director of neighborhood programs for the Greater Homewood Community Corp.

Last June, Greater Homewood, an umbrella organization for northern Baltimore, sponsored a meeting with community leaders, city planners, architects and others to come up with ideas for using the building.

The city bid document reflects the outcome of that meeting.

It lists a number of possible uses for the building approved by Greater Homewood's Northern District Planning Task Force.

Among them are market-rate apartments, condominiums or co-operatives; private assisted living facilities and senior apartments; professional offices; small-scale retail or restaurant; and artists' housing and gallery space.

"Mixed-use alternatives that combine any of the aforementioned uses are strongly encouraged," the document says.

Large-scale commercial uses, such as medical or dental offices, and alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers will not be permitted, according to the document.

Because of the building's historical and architectural significance, potential developers are "strongly encouraged" to restore it and several smaller buildings originally constructed as stables and shops.

A one-story addition built as a Northern District courthouse in 1961 "does not contribute to the architectural integrity of the site and can be considered for demolition," according to the bid document.

The development corporation will consider a sale or lease of the property, which includes slightly more than an acre and an interior courtyard used as a police car and service area.

After a developer is selected, the corporation will offer exclusive negotiating rights for 90 days.

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