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Lakeside offices, homes going up by old quarry


A Timonium-based developer unveiled plans yesterday to build offices, shops and restaurants in a 230-acre mixed-used development on the site of the former Greenspring Quarry in Baltimore County.

Obrecht Properties LLC said LifeBridge Health Inc. has signed a lease for office space in the proposed Quarry Lake at Greenspring, becoming the first tenant in what is projected to be 225,000 square feet of offices and 112,000 square feet of shops. LifeBridge will, in turn, lease office space to physician groups in its health network.

Obrecht, the commercial developer in a project that will also include nearly 600 homes - mostly condominiums - plans three office buildings, four restaurants and several shops anchored by an upscale grocer on 27 acres. The development will be centered on a 42-acre lake that will be created by filling up the former rock quarry and be the deepest lake in the state at 360 feet deep.

Thomas F. Obrecht, president of Obrecht Properties, said in a statement that his company sees a market for Class A office space, along with the retail and residential components, in an area convenient to and inside the Baltimore Beltway.

"There hasn't been any new Class A office space built along the Beltway, so we'll see the type of user that wants easy access on and off the Beltway yet wants to be in a nice planned park overlooking a lake and quarry," said Richard F. Blue Jr., a principal in the project and president of Blue & Obrecht Realty LLC, which is handling office leasing. "With the retail amenities next door within easy walking distance, it makes a nice environment to work in."

Beazer Homes is building the project's housing. It will include 83 single-family homes with price tags in the upper $600,000 range and more than 500 condominium units in 15 buildings offering lake views. The community on Greenspring Avenue will have its own clubhouse, pool and tennis courts and feature a waterfront promenade leading to the shops and restaurants.

Interest from potential buyers has been strong, especially from the surrounding neighborhoods in Pikesville, according to area residents.

"We're pretty gung ho on most of it," said Jacob Neville, past president of the Pikesville Greenspring Community Coalition Inc. and a 19-year Pikesville resident.

"This is quite a desirable community, and we haven't had much construction in the past few years, and as a result there is definite interest in coming into this area. If it's organized well, it will be an asset to the community and maybe a little bit of a community center."

The builder already has more than 600 names on a list of prospective buyers, said David Carney, a division president for Beazer.

"The retail and recreational amenities are significant selling points," Carney said, adding that the addition of the doctors offices offers another plus.

The amenities attracted LifeBridge, said Neil M. Meltzer, president of Sinai Hospital, one of the network's hospitals, and a senior vice president of LifeBridge.

"We are in a position as a system where we have more demand for medical office space than medical office space available," Meltzer said. "There are a number of physicians affiliated with Sinai, LifeBridge and Northwest [Hospital Center] that would like to be in close proximity to the hospital but not on campus."

Apart from the physicians offices, which should be completed by summer 2006 along with a second office building, the developers expect to lease office space to accounting firms, law firms and financial consultants, Blue said.

He said the developer hopes to break ground by January on the retail portion, which will likely include a wine shop, cleaners, a drugstore, a bank and a coffee shop, as well as a gourmet grocer.

Obrecht and homebuilder Beazer purchased the property from Arundel Corp., which until the end of 1999 operated a quarry there that had been mined since the late 1800s.

Redevelopment at the site has been talked about, planned and fought and negotiated over for nearly two decades, with Arundel Corp. first seeking in 1984 to rezone the property - a request opposed by nearby residents and initially denied by Baltimore County.

In 1985, in exchange for Arundel agreeing to halt industrial uses on the site by 2000, community association groups signed a deal with Arundel setting commercial and residential development guidelines, and the county approved the mixed-used commercial and residential zoning.

Since the mine closed, Arundel has brought in Columbia-based Koren Development Co. to oversee reclamation to make the area suitable for development and build roads and water and sewer systems.

Baltimore County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, whose 2nd District includes Pikesville, has long negotiated with Arundel Corp. on behalf of area residents.

"There have been a lot of tugs and pulls during my 11-year tenure with this project, sometimes contentious, but my goal and the community's has been to ensure this shall be a quality project and an asset to the community, and I think ultimately that's what we will end up with," the Democrat said.

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