(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.