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Wrecking ball hits hospital campus


As demolition workers used Bobcats to pile mounds of concrete, brick and metal into trucks, a 50-foot-wide hole in the walls of the old Anne Arundel Medical Center parking garage loomed behind them.

Where hospital employees, patrons and the occasional downtown worker once parked their cars, a three-story hole left by a wrecking ball remains as demolition crews make way for the largest residential development the city could see in some say "another 50 years."

Though crews began removing hazardous materials five months ago from the hospital site -- a combined area of about 400,000 square feet -- demolition of the parking garage began last week and will continue for the next three weeks, said Rob Schuetz, project manager and vice president of Madison Homes Inc.

Schuetz said demolition of the entire medical center will be completed within five months, barring bad weather. The construction of a 106- residence community will begin immediately afterward.

Called Acton's Landing, the new community will have 79 condominiums. Plans also call for 27 single-family homes and townhouses, and a park near the waterfront, Schuetz said.

"We have a very long interest list" in the new homes, he said. "It's far longer than anything I've ever seen."

Schuetz said the process would continue in the coming months with "soft demolition." Workers will search debris, get rid of organic and combustible waste, and recycle concrete.

As many as 100 people will be working on the site at the peak of the project, which will include two new roads to accommodate the homes, Schuetz said.

"There are several months of demolition and site work going on," Schuetz said.

The hospital site, located on South Street since 1902, was most recently used as a set for a John Travolta movie. In 2001, the hospital moved to its new campus off Jennifer Road.

Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer said the development project at the old hospital site could increase downtown business, with residents only a short walk from shops and restaurants.

"We're going to have a lot of new people that bring a base of new support to Main Street," Moyer said. "They can walk to City Hall and the State House."

But some Annapolis residents are pausing to remember the role that the old hospital played in the community.

Schuetz said he has steadily received telephone calls from "sentimental" residents and hospital patrons asking for red bricks and other mementos. On Tuesday, he said, he took calls from at least 30 people.

A few months ago, a man asked for the door tag to the hospital room where both of his children were born.

Schuetz said they found it and gave it to him.

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