LifeBridge planning major development for 22-acre site near Pimlico Race Course

Editor’s note: The following article appeared on bizjournals.com on February 6, 2019.

By Morgan Eichensehr

LifeBridge Health is working on big development plans for a site near Pimlico, with the goal of helping to address the “disgusting” health and economic disparities impacting the local neighborhood.

The health system that operates Sinai Hospital in Northwest Baltimore wants to construct new outpatient facilities on a 22-acre site near the Pimlico Race Course, which LifeBridge currently uses for Sinai employee parking. LifeBridge’s plans are still under discussion, and are somewhat tied to an adjacent, much larger $424 million proposal for the redevelopment of the race course and surrounding areas of the Park Heights neighborhood.

The Maryland Stadium Authority released a report detailing the redevelopment plan in December, which is still in early planning stages and has yet to secure financing. Ultimately, the Stadium Authority hopes to revitalize the track that has long been home to the annual Preakness Stakes, including a 360,890-square-foot, multi-level clubhouse, a 29,000-square-foot betting parlor, a racing history center and museum. The plan also calls for a new hotel near the racetrack, a 32,500-square-foot parking garage, and the development of 100 new senior housing apartments.

Martha Nathanson, LifeBridge’s vice president of government and community development, described LifeBridge’s tentative plans during a hearing with lawmakers in Annapolis last week regarding the Pimlico redevelopmentproposal. She said construction on the site would take place in two phases.

The first phase includes a new ambulatory services building, which would be house outpatient services including primary care, pediatric and specialty doctors’ offices. The building is expected to be about 100,000 square feet and would cost about $100 million. Nathanson said the building has already received state support, to the tune of about $6 million.

The building was originally going to be built in front of Sinai Hospital, in the space that is now covered by a hospital parking lot. But Brian White, LifeBridge’s executive vice president, said the health system realized the investment would be more impactful if it were moved out into the Park Heights community.

“If you live on the Park Heights side of Northern Parkway, we know your life expectancy is about 67 to 68 years, but if you cross over to the Mt. Washington side, it goes up to 82 or 83. That’s just disgusting,” White said. “That needs to be addressed, and we feel we have a responsibility to help address it and to be a catalyst for creating new facilities and helping to bring new jobs and new investment to that area.”

Nathanson said constructing the building on this site right along Northern Parkway “sends a strong signal” that LifeBridge hopes to be a driver for more redevelopment in the area.

The second phase of LifeBridge’s development plans would likely include the construction of a ‘Center for Hope’ building, Nathanson said, to house all its violence intervention and prevention programs, including those focused on domestic violence, street and gang violence and child abuse.

White noted that LifeBridge recently acquired the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, currently located at 2300 N. Charles St. The system ultimately hopes to move the center’s services, which include working with families to prevent and respond to child abuse, trauma and violence, into the new Center for Hope. White said final planning for the center’s programming would likely take place in the next six months.

The site could also include a new BioInnovation Hub. White explained that Sinai maintains an onsite incubator program, which supports researchers and scientists who are working on new methods or technologies that could be spun out into local biotech companies. The incubator has limited space now, White said, and LifeBridge hopes to expand its capacity, potentially through new construction on the site near Pimlico.

LifeBridge hopes to be able to break ground and begin work on the first phase of this project in the next 12 to 18 months, White said, pending finalization and state approval of the development plans. Nathanson said the first building could be finished by 2022.

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