SEABROOK – Following a 2018 feasibility study to potentially repurpose Glenn Dale Hospital site, exercises are set to take place to find newer reuse plans outside of the county’s desire to make the area into a retirement community.
The hospital opened as a tuberculosis sanatorium in 1934. It was specifically constructed to deal with the outbreak of the disease in the Metropolitan area, treating children before expanding to include adult care. Upon its opening, U.S. Surgeon General Thomas Parran, Jr. called Glenn Dale “the most up-to-date and complete institution of its kind in the country.” In 1960, Glenn Dale began to helped patients with long-term and chronic illnesses once newer methods of treating tuberculosis allowed people to be cured at home.
The hospital site contains 23 buildings that sit on a 60-acre campus. All the buildings have been dealing with deterioration issues since its closing in 1982 due to asbestos. Since then, the hospital grounds have become an area for urban explorers to frequent. The hospital was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in November 2011 and Preservation Maryland placed the aging facility on its threatened historical properties list.
When the property was sold by the District of Colombia to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) in 1995, the state regulated that the property would have to turn into a CCRC, which is the administered by the Maryland Department of Aging. CCRCs offer continuing care and, depending on the provider, provide full coverage nursing care in an on-site health center.
David Vos, development project manager for the Alexander Company, said licensing limitations and a sizeable financial gap limit the county from establishing the site as a once the buildings are remodeled for reuse.
If county officials agree to allow the exercise to take place, they would begin a new study later this month, and in the early part of 2020 would finish it.
“We are currently in negotiations with them over a predevelopment exercise plans to determine what other uses can be considered,” Vos said. “Those uses would have to go out to the varies stakeholders, including neighborhood associations, to determine what other uses can be supported by the community.”
However, last year’s feasibility study found that the licensing process alone will take 7-10 years to complete for whoever becomes the operator for the community. Also, construction permits to work on the site and to secrete enough funds for the project would take years as well.
Lastly, according to the state rules on CCRC, people putting down deposits for the rebuild would have to wait longer than the five-year maximum waiting time to start living in the site once it is fully redeveloped.
The limitations have put the county in a bind, County Councilmember Dannielle Glaros (District 3) said. Together with Council Chair Todd Turner (District 4) and Councilmember Jolene Ivey (District 5), have been working together with community organizations, Lincoln Vista Civic Association and Glenn Dale Citizens Association, to continue the site as a CCRC while maintaining the original structures.
“It is a specific designation for a retirement community, and we have been working through the analysis to see if that is doable,” Glaros said. “I think that designation, with the historic resources we have made things a little more complicated.”
Finding other uses outside of a CCRC would speed the process up in finding buyers for the property. Officials can still preserve the original idea having a community for the elderly as well when selling the property, which would offer more options after the area is redeveloped, Vos said.
“One option is to keep it as a more senior-oriented development but offers a variety of for-sale and rental opportunities for seniors,” Vos said. “That would offset the market to a much larger population.”
Community leaders have voiced their concerns for the future of the Glenn Dale Hospital. Linda Thompson, the vice president of the Glenn Dale Citizens Association, asked the County Council for the “immediate stabilization” of the campus while setting aside funds for open space and the development of park land on the site during a Town Hall meeting on Feb. 26.
Meanwhile, Del. Alonzo Washington and members of both the Prince George’s County and Montgomery County Delegations are proposing a bill in the State Senate that would allow MNCPPC to sell, lease or transfer a portion of the Glenn Dale Hospital property to someone who would reuse and redevelop the main hospital campus buildings on the site.
By doing so, the operator of the site does not have to adhere to the strict rules of the state’s CCRC rules in establishing its own community, Glaros said. A hearing on the bill will take place on March 12.
“What we are all trying to figure out is how we can create a community asset and revitalize and reuse older and historic buildings,” Glaros said. “It is not so simple to do that.”