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Clarke Seeks Rotunda Landmark Designation

Councilwoman says designation is not meant to impact proposed redevelopment.

(UPDATED 3:38 p.m.)—Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke wants to add portions of the exterior and the interior of the Rotunda, formerly the Maryland Casualty Company Building, to the city’s Historic Landmark list.

Clarke has sponsored two bills, one for the exterior and one for the interior, to be introduced during City Council meeting Monday evening.

The building, located at 711 W. 40th St., is currently home to a struggling indoor mall that its owner, Hekemian & Co., has long sought to redevelop as a mixed-use outdoor shopping center.

The redevelopment of the Rotunda is expected to break ground this spring.

Clarke said that she is introducing the legislation not to complicate matters for the redevelopment of the building, but to instead protect it "for the long haul."

According to electronic property records, the primary structure was built in 1921 as an office building, but was transformed into a mall in the 1970s.

Although Clarke has expressed concerns with the redesign, she doesn’t like the plan to eliminate indoor corridors at the project, she said the bill is not intended to hinder the redevelopment.  

“[Senior Vice President Chris Bell] indicated that he would work with CHAP to advise [on the redevelopment] as its being designed now. Once they get under way I’ll proceed with enactment,” Clarke said.  

Al Barry, the project’s local land use consultant, said he met with Clarke and the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation on Friday, and was under the impression the legislation would not be acted on, possibly for several years, until the redevelopment was complete.

"There's no need to take any position now because there won't be any hearings for several years," Barry said.

He added that Hekemian & Co. were grateful that Clarke said the legislation was only intended to start the process, and not intended to be reviewed in the near future, because the project is already involved in a review process with surrounding neighborhoods and the Planning Department.

"We are not convinced that there is a need for this legislation. But our principle concern is that it may hold up or interfere with the phasing of the project,” Barry said.

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Daniel Ewald December 03, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Would this hinder redevelopment efforts for the Rotunda? Would figure changes inside, like additional movie screens, arcades, or stores won't be impacted much.
Adam Bednar December 03, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Daniel, as it says at the top of the story this would only apply to portions of the building. Those portions are the original 1921 exterior and the traditional first floor entrance. The councilwoman says above that this will not hurt redevelopment. But I haven't heard back from Hekemian & Co.'s land use consultant to get their side of the story.
Baltimore Matt December 03, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Maybe we should just tear it down now and build a Costco while we still have a chance.
AnnKangarouse December 05, 2012 at 02:26 PM
OMG. CHAP?! CHAP's designations on the interior and exterior of The the Senator Theatre has resulted in demolishing the interior historic architecture as well as many of the commerative sidewalk blocks on the exterior. CHAP is simply a rouse to give the green light to developers to do whatever they wish with historic buildings. Mary Pat has been around long enough to know this....

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