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Restoration of the Washington Monument
Photo Credits: Carolyn Maxim
The Mount Vernon Place Conservancy has a $5 million dollar plan to restore the Washington Monument in time for the becentennial celebration on Independence Day of 2015. Time has taken a tole on the structure of the Monument and the surrounding parks. Repairs will begin in January and will include restoration of marble, stones, and bricks, removal of mildew and moss, installation of new electrical systems, and the recasting and repairing of the cast-iron fence. Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says the Monument is "an iconic place in the city that holds a lot of memories for people. It is the center of the Mount Vernon cultural area. I think it will be a welcome return of something that kids and familes love to enjoy." For the full story, click here.
MICA, Continuation of Capital Improvement Campaign
Maryland Institute College of Art will begin renovation on the 33,000-square-foot building at 1801 Falls Road in late fall, pending approval by the Board of Trustees. The redevelopment is part of a capital improvement campaign that has also included the opening of Leake Hall and Gateway dormitory. For the full story, click here.
10 Light Street, Centerpiece of the 401 Census Tract
The residential conversion has begun on the former Bank of America builing at 10 Light Street. Many Baltimoreans may not see the pull to living downtown, but "the past decade saw the number of residents in this area more than double in size," said Kirby Fowler, president of Downtown Partnership. The apartment building will be a short walk for many workers and will provide excellent views of the city and the harbor. For full details, click here.
Renovations at Penn Station Completed Ahead of Schedule
In July 2013, Amtrak and Maryland Transit Administration began making renovations to Penn Station. The renovations were completed ahead of schedule and included: new fixtures, more accessible stalls, restoration of windows, new platform lighting, installation of electronic train status board, a new fire-spression system, and refinished floors. More projects will be undertaken in the next 18 months. For the full story, click here.
Circulator Expands to Serve North Baltimore
The Charm City Circulator which launched in 2010 and consisted of the orange and purple routes has since expanded to include the Green and Banner routes as well. The bus system serves the Inner Harbor, Federal Hill, City Center, and Historic Mount Vernon. This free bus service geared towards a target market that usually drives downtown and does not often ride buses currently serves 12 million people; A number which far surpasses any expectation. Starting in fall 2014, the Purple route will be expanded to University Parkway. This will be a 3.3 mile expansion and will provide service to Charles Village. For the full story, click here.
Chase Brexton Expands Building and Services
Chase Brexton has not only expanded from two buildings in Mount Vernon to the Monumental Life Building which spans an entire block, but they have also expanded their services and potential customer base. A few of the new services include obstetrics, gynecology, and a pod style clinic area where patients may see a number of different specialists during a visit. For the full story, click here.
Former Center of Social Life to be Reawakened
Photo Courtesy of Google Image, Street View
Mount Vernon has recently been experienceing a reawakening - a growth in the number of students and young professionals living in the area and an increase in development projects. Gould Property Co. hopes to break ground on 814 N. Charles Street by the end of the year. The proposed apartment building which will conform to the 90-foot height restriction, will have three levels of underground parking, an infinity pool, and Brazilian hard wood floors. The corner of Charles Street and Read Street has been a parking lot for years, but it once housed two Victorian mansions. This area was "the center of the exclusive social life of the city," desribed a 1932 Baltimore Sun story. For the full story, click here.
After a Summer of Renovations, Old St. Paul's Will Reopen
This summer, Saint Paul's Episcopal Church on North Charles Street underwent renovations to improve lighting. The walls and ceiling were also repainted to incoporate a concept from the original design for the 157 year old building. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held on September 29 at 10:00 a.m. To view photos and read the full story, click here.
Another Skywalk to Come Down
The city plans to start on a $2 million dollar project to remove the skywalk over Baltimore Street at Hopkins Plaza.
"The goal is to increase pedestrain traffic for reatail establishments", said Kriby Fowler of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore. For more, click here.
Superblock Developers File Suit Against the City
Photo Credit: Monica Lopossay, Baltimore Sun
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake canceled the executive rights of the Lexington Square Partners, former developers of Baltimore's "Superblock." Rawlings-Blake intends to seek outside bids for the development and is considering breaking up the site into multiple bids rather than one large plan. This has lead to the developers filing suit against the city for more than $50 million. They said they spent more than $7 million in their six-year effort to develop the site and had nearly secured financing. For the full story, click here.
Sale of 201 N. Charles Likely to set the Standard
Photo Credits: The Baltimore Sun
The sale of 201 North Charles Street for $19.7 million "signals an increase in confidence in the downtown Baltimore office market," said Johnathan Carpenter, a Cassiby Turley broker. The sale of office buildings has been slow over the past six years, and this sale will likely set the standard for future sales. For the full story, click here.
Jabber Five Real Estate Group buys 1114 Cathedral
The 1114 Cathedral Street building which was owned by Associated Black Charties Inc. has been sold to Jabber Five Real Estate Group. Asoociated Black Charties will be located on the second floor of the building, and the rest of the space is being marketed to retail tennants. For the full story, click here.
Load of Fun, Sold
The Load of Fun building on North Avenue was recently sold to the Baltimore Arts Realty Corp. The building was a former car dealership that had functioned as an arts center until inspectors forced it to close. The potential plans for the building include retail space, cafe, gallery, restaurant, or performance space on the first floor and low-cost studio space for artists on the second floor. For the full story, click here.
A Good Start For The Chesapeake.
Photo Credit: Suzanne Loudermilk
July 2013: Earlier this summer, The Chesapeake, in Station North reopened. Although many aspects of the resturant have changed in order to align with the current target market, the restaurant hosts Throwback Thursdays which features items from the original menu. The Chesapeake "seems to have gotten off to a good start" as stated in the Baltimore Magazine. For the full story, click here.
Baltimore Design School - First of its Kind
Photo Credit: Klaus Philipsen, Community Architect Blog Spot
Preliminary Approval for Mount Vernon Apartment Building
Photo Courtesy of Google Image, Street View
August 2013: The Commission for Historical & Architectural Preservation approved a conceptual design for an apartment building with approximately 1000 units at 814 N. Charles Street.
The new building will be located on what is currently a parking lot. Concerns such as parking and placement of balconies over the street should be addressed this fall by a more detailed plan.
Paul Warren, Vice President of the Mount Vernon-Belevedere Community, says, "this is exactly the concept that we had hoped for, for this site." The developers, Gould Property Co., hope to break ground by the end of this year. For the full story, click here.
Rising Rental Demand in Baltimore
Photo Credit: Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun
August 2013: Apartments are in limited supply in popular areas of the city, including Federal Hill, Fells Point, and Mount Vernon. Often, rentals are taken off the market within two weeks of being available and some within only 24 hours.
This has led to many major residential projects, but the projects that are currently in the works are "not going to come close to meeting" demand for housing in the next few years, said Michael Evitts who leads research for the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.
Many of these buildings that are being rennovated have waiting lists that are filling up even though construction wont be complete for quite some time. This leaves many opportunities for the developers in the area.
"My vision is all of Charles Street will be more residential. There's so many 22-year olds out there, and they want to be downtown. They don't want to be in a garden apartment off York Road," said Steven Bloom, who operates Baltimore operations for PMC Property Group. For the full story click here.
Downtown Hotels Making Major Changes
Photo Courtesy of Raddison Plaza Lord Baltimore
August, 2013: Many downtown hotels face the question of functioning under a corporate umbrella or independantly.
The Lord Baltimore Hotel was acquired by Rubell Hotels in March and will undergo extensive renovations.
"We like to think of it as the rebirth of the Lord Baltimore because the hotel was such an integral part of this city's history, that I think it will be welcomed back," said Gene-Michael Addis, the hotel's general manager. For the full story, click here.
Mount Vernon Apartment sells for $4M
Photo Credits: Kevin Litten, Baltimore Business Journal
August, 2013: An apartment portfolio in Mount Vernon received 23 offers during the first 30 days of listing and has sold for $4 million.
"There's a lot of interest in Mount Vernon," says Justin Verner, a Sperry Van Ness Agent. For more, click here.
While Awaiting Opening, Dooby's Occupies The Hatch
Photo courtesy of: Dooby's Coffee
July 2013: The new Mount Vernon cafe, Dooby's, was anticipating a Spring 2013 opening, but delays have pushed the opening closer to Labor Day.
In the meantime, Dooby's has been occupying space at 4 W. Madison Street which is around the corner from what will be the main establishment.
This space, referred to as The Hatch, will serve as an incubator space for entrepreneurs after Dooby's is in it's permanant home. For the full story click here.
Developors Moving Forward With Plans for Downtown Apartments
Photo courtesy of: Curry Architects
July 2013: Early plans for a mixed-use building on West Baltimore Street were approved by the city's architectural review panel. Once construction begins, the project will take place approximately 18 months to compelte and cost $50 million. For the full story, click here.
Baltimore Museum of Art Renovations Timed for 100th Anniversary
Photo Credits: Baltimore Architectural Firl of Ziger/Snead
June, 2013: The Contemporary Wing, a $6.5 million renovation, which opened November 2012, was just the start of a $28 million renovation project for the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA). The project is on schedule to be completed by Fall, 2014, just in time for the BMA's centennial celebration.
The project has several main components including: a redesigned lobby area, relocation of the Wurtzburger African Art Gallery, two new Asian Art gallaries, and a new Learning and Creative Center. After renovations are complete, for the first time since 1982, visitors will be able to enter through the expansive front doors of this 1929 building.
The Tremont Re-brands as Embassy Suites
Photo Credit: Sarah Meehan, Baltimore Business Journal
June, 2013: Earlier this season, the Tremont Suites Hotel was rebranded as the Embasy Suites, a Hilton Hotel Brand.
Renovations totaling $14 million included an improved fitness center, new bathrooms, and a change in restaurants.
James LoBosco, the hotel's managing director, said the changes "really open it up to a new customer. The brand is going to be the main attraction."
For the full story, click here.
A Residential Renaissance in the Heart of Baltimore
Photo Credit: Amy Briggs, Baltimore Business Journal
May, 2013: Some of the largest residential redevelopments to take place in over four decades are within a mile of downtown Baltimore. These projects include: 301 N. Charles St, 10 Light st, and the Mechanic Theater.
Recently, the appartment occupancy rate downtown is approximately 95 percent, and recent studies show that young people are less likely to own cars and have driver's licenses than older generations. These two factors are making residential development a good choice for developers in the area.
For the full story and to learn more about developmets such as 310 N. Charles St, which is said to have a "Great Gatsby vibe," click here.
UB's New Law Center- Changing Traditions
April, 2013: This past spring, the University of Baltimore opened the doors of it's top of the line, environmentally conscious, Law Center.
Taking the name of the previous law building, the John and Frances Angelos Law Center, the new 12 story structure is fully equiped with automatic blinds that lower when hit by sunlight, a green roof, two buried 10,000 gallon tanks to collect rain water, and many other features that will save the University significant amounts on energy costs each year.
Not only does the building meet the hightest level of certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, but it is also quite a sight to see. Robert Bogomolny, the University's president, referred to the building as a "landmark building for the city of Baltimore." Click here for more.
The Blaustein Building - Up for Auction, But Where Are Its Bidders?
August, 2012: The Blaustein Building, located at 1 N. Charles Street, is up for auction, but details about potential buyers - and even confirmation that the auction will happen - have been vague.
More than 80,000 square feet of office space is available for lease. The auction is slated for September 7, but officials representing the auction house, the building's owner and its trustees have been less than forthcoming with details.
"The only comment I can provide is no comment," said Matthew W. Oakley, substitute trustee for the building and attorney for Gallagher Evelius & Jones LLP. Click here for more.
Plans Unveiled for the New Mechanic Theatre Site
Rendering courtesy Shalom Baranes Associates
August, 2012: The corner of Charles and Baltimore Streets is about to get a much-needed facelift.
The site – where the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre has sat vacant for the past eight years – will be developed into two, 20+ story residential towers with lower level retail. A five-floor underground parking garage will complete the space.
The proposal comes from developer David S. Brown Enterprises Ltd. and Arrow Parking and is estimated to cost $150 million.
The Mechanic Theatre, which featured Broadway and off-Broadway plays from 1967-1997, was constructed in a Modernist style. It was an eyesore to some yet considered by others to have historic value.
While some city residents had sought to save the Mechanic building from demolition, their most recent concerns focus around the location of the retail facilities. They argue that having stores at the corner of the development site will make the Charles and Baltimore Street intersection more dangerous. The Baltimore Business Journal has full details.
A New Home for Chase Brexton
Chase Brexton Health Services is beginning a $25 million renovation of the Monumental Life Buildings located at Charles Street and Chase Street.
The renovation will preserve historical details of the buildings, which date back as early as 1928.
Started in the 1970s, Chase Brexton has grown through the years and now serves as a primary care clinic with 240 employees and serves over 24,000 patients a year. Its services include HIV and AIDs treatment, behavioral health services and addition treatment programs. The Baltimore Sun has the full report.
More Apartments Needed in Baltimore
Image Courtesy Downtown Partnership
August 1, 2012: According to a new study commissioned by The Downtown Partnership, Baltimore needs 5,000 new apartments by the year 2017 to keep up with current demand.
Downtown Partnership released similar statistics back in 2001 and again in 2006. The City has not met apartment living demand, especially Downtown. Occupancy rates have risen to a staggering 97.1%, according to Kirby Fowler, President of Downtown Partnership.
Over 1,000 new apartments downtown are scheduled to be completed by 2014. Click here for more details.
A New Enterprise Zone for Baltimore
Photo Courtesy Baltimore Development Corp.
The City has released a new map of Enterprise Zones within Baltimore. This map now includes Pratt Street and other points within the center of downtown.
The Enterprise Zone designation is important, because new development projects within the Zone are eligible for major tax credits.
But just as important as the new designations are the places that no longer make the list. The Daily Record has more.
Lower Rents 'North of Pratt'
Photo courtesy Christopher Myers
The Sun Life Building, located at 20 S. Charles Street, has sold to a Philadelphia-based investment group for $3.1 million. That's one-third of the price paid for the same building back in 2008.
Sluggish economic conditions and a general "exodus among downtown office tenants from buildings north of Pratt Street" can be explained for the lowered rent. According to Mackenzie Commerical Real Estate, the vacancy rate for Class B buildings downtown is a whopping 35 percent. The Baltimore Business Journal has the full story.
More Student Housing for The Maryland Institute College of Art
The South Side of Commons II, (Rendering courtesy of Hord Coplan Macht)
July, 2012: The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is planning on adding 25% more student dormitory space to its campus.
The $18.5 million project, called Commons II, will be located next to the existing Commons dormitory, which will also be undergoing renovations. Commons II will feature 62 apartments, housing up to 240 students in a beautiful, five-story glass building.
The building will also feature a performance space, lecture hall and artist studios.
Enhancements to the adjacent Commons building will include a laundry center, a café and mailboxes.
MICA officials hope that adding more student housing will help revitalize the adjacent North Avenue neighborhood. The Baltimore Sun has full details.
A ‘Study’ in Living Well: UB’s New Varsity Student Housing Building
In the coming months, the University of Baltimore will be opening a new, multi-million dollar addition to its campus, called the John and Frances Angelos Law Center. But you may be wondering where all of UB's new students will live.
Look no further than the beautiful new Varsity Student Housing building, located at 30 W. Biddle Street.
323 law students, grad students and undergrads will be calling this building home. The dorm sits on a former UB Foundation surface parking lot. It was sold in 2011 to Potomac Holdings, a private developer, and the building was constructed using private equity and investors.
"UB has long been known as a commuter school," says Jeff La Noue, Project and Sustainability Planner at the University of Baltimore. "Now, it's increasing its options."
"We are going to have students here 7 days a week – it wasn't that way in the 80's or even in the recent past," Jeff continued. "UB is transforming itself into a place where people will be spending a lot more time in our Midtown neighborhood."
Each of The Varisty's studio, 2- and 4-room suites have wood laminate floors, granite countertops in the kitchen, their own private bathroom and a washer/dryer. There's a state of the art gym on the first floor, a study lounge and business center, and even a Dunkin Donuts.
The top floors (9 and 10) of the Varsity are reserved for UB's Law students. They have a magnificent view of the downtown law firms from their windows.
Floors 2-8 are open to any college student – not just those who attend UB. So if you know someone who's attending the Peabody or even MICA, make sure you spread the news! You can even take a tour of the model apartments on Thursdays and Fridays by calling 410-637-3730, visiting their website or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask for Cynthia; she's very helpful.
The Varsity Student Housing building is slated to open on August 1, and it's already 50% full. UB is expecting a lot of move-in activity on the weekends in August, "so if you find yourself in the neighborhood around then," Jeff adds, "our school appreciates your patience."
A Belgian Brasserie for the Chesapeake Building
A Belgian Brasserie has signed on to the Chesapeake Restaurant project at 1701 N. Charles Street.
The restaurant will be called De Kleine Duivel, and it will feature Belgian beers and wines alongside Flemish-French dishes. Owner Paul Kopchinski hopes to turn the space into a Art Nouveau setting.
Closed since 1987, the Chesapeake Restaurant was sold in October 2010 by Michael Shecter and Ernst Valery of Station North Development Partners LLC for $2.5 million. The Baltimore Sun has full details.
The Baltimore Museum of Art’s $24.5 Million Renovation Project: A Beautiful New Home for its Contemporary Wing
On November 17, 2012, a newly renovated contemporary wing will open at The Baltimore Museum of Art.
The space will house over a dozen recent acquisitions, including a site specific installation by Sarah Oppenheimer, A Man Screaming is Not a Dancing Bear by Allora & Calzadilla, Untitled by Rirkrit Tiravanija and Live Ball by Nari Ward.
The $24.5 million project also includes space for changing exhibitions, a film, video and digital gallery and two areas for interactive learning.
After a design competition, the BMA's Board of Trustees selected the firm of Ziger/Snead to take on the renovation project. The board was careful to select only Maryland-based architecture firms, and credits the creation of 185 jobs in construction and related industries as a result of the project. The Baltimore Museum of Art has full details.
New Retail Space at Charles & Eager?
June, 2012: For more than a year, rumors have swirled about the construction of a new building at the corner of Charles & Eager Streets.
But right now, the space sits as a surface parking lot owned by former U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg, Kingdon Gould, Jr.
The proposed new, 27,000 square-foot building, designed by SMG Architects, would have retail on its first floor, and offices on its second and third.
Still, in the year since this announcement was made, no leases have been signed, and PMI Parking continues operations on the site.
In August of 2011, Baltimore's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation approved final plans for the office building. Click here for details from The Baltimore Sun.
Just A Few Months Until the New University of Baltimore Law Center Opens
May, 2012: Construction continues at the corner of Charles Street and Mount Royal Ave. - it's the site of the new John and Frances Angelos Law Center at the University of Baltimore.
The $107 million project began in 2010 and is slated to open in early 2013. A significant funding source came from Peter Angelos, who graduated from the school in 1961. His $10 million combined donation was the largest private gift in the school's history.
Noted for its eco-friendly design, the building features a central atrium bathed in natural light,15 student classrooms, a 32,000 foot library, cutting-edge technologies for heating and cooling, a rainwater capture and re-use program, and more – click here for full details.
New Life for the 'Old' Washington Monument?
May, 2012: This is the original Washington Monument, designed in 1815 by Robert Mills, the same architect who, in 1831, created the larger, more famous tribute to the country's first President in Washington, DC.
Unlike its Beltway counterpart, which underwent a 4-year, $9.4 million renovation partially funded by the government, Baltimore's Washington Monument has been left to withstand the ravages of time by itself.
Structural weaknesses in the bracing beneath the monument's cupola were revealed in 2009. A motorist drove through its decorative iron fencing in 2010. City officials then roped off the monument to the general public, promising to reopen it in 3 months. But it's been closed ever since.
The city of Baltimore simply can't afford to maintain it. But a public-private partnership known as the Friends of the Mount Vernon Conservancy has secured about $6 million to take care of the monument and the parks that surround it.The Baltimore Sun has all of the details
Time to Demolish the Mechanic Theatre?
May, 2012: Plans have been submitted to demolish the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre. The building, constructed in a Modernist style of the 1960s, was an eyesore to some yet considered by others to have historic value.
The Mechanic featured Broadway and off-Broadway plays from 1967-1997.
Developers have unsuccessfully tried to convert the space into residential and mixed-use retail before, but due to current, easier financing and a market ripe for downtown apartment housing, it now appears its time has come. The Baltimore Sun has full details
Another Chance For the Parkway Theatre?
The Parkway Theatre’s faded glory
April 2012: The old Parkway Theatre may soon be opening its doors again – to independent filmmakers. The Maryland Film Festival has submitted a proposal to transform the space, which has sat vacant since the 1970s, into a hub for small, independent films and concerts.
Two other developers have also submitted proposals to the Baltimore Development Corp. to transform the theater into a site for live music and performance art. The Parkway Theater is a landmark in the Station North community and sits at the critical intersection of North Avenue & Charles Streets. Click here for more details from The Baltimore Sun
First Steps Underway for Charles Village's Road Reconstruction Project
On September 5, 2012, the City of Baltimore will be closing Charles Street between 25th Street & University Parkway in Charles Village in order to repair the road and sidewalks.
The project -- expected to cost $28 million -- will include remilling and resurfacing the street & adding in new sidewalks, curbs, streetlamps and trees.
Charles Street's southbound lane will be widened from one lane to two, and bicycle lanes will be added.
For a detailed description of the project including a map of traffic diversion, click here.
You can find visuals of the project below:
Amtrak Selects a Developer for its Penn Station Project
Photo courtesy Nicholas Griner
March, 2012: Amtrak is in the final stages of negotiations with a developer to build on its surface parking lot across from Penn Station.
The 1.5-acre lot, which is located on East Lanvale Street between Charles Street and St. Paul Streets, will be turned into a mixed-use facility that could include hotel rooms and offices.
Amtrak issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) in June of 2011, and while they indicated that a developer has been chosen, they won't reveal its name for a few more weeks.
The new building will complement other construction projects in the neighborhood, including the new, $107 million John and Frances Angelos Law Center at the University of Baltimore and the $77 million Fitzgerald Apartment building.
"Transit-oriented development, which has never been much of a concept in Baltimore, is really catching on here," says Joseph McNeely, executive director for the Central Baltimore Partnership. Click here for more.
Despite Protests, Plans Continue For 25th Street Station Development
February, 2012: A Court of Special Appeals upheld a ruling that tried to block development plans in the Remington neighborhood at 25th Street Station.
The developer, W.V. Urban Developments, had proposed building a 93,783 square-foot Wal-Mart and a second "big box" store at 25th Street Station, which is now the site of a car dealership.
Community activists had brought a lawsuit against the Baltimore City Planning Commission, but both the Baltimore City Circuit Court and the Court of Special Appeals ruled that the activists had not shown how the development project would affect them any more than the general public.
The home-improvement chain Lowe's was originally scheduled to go into the new shopping center, but withdrew plans after the community hubbub.
The 25th Street Station project expects to add 329,705 square feet of retail space, 90 residential units and 750 full- and part-time jobs to the community. Click here for more details from the Maryland Daily Record.