Economic development expert updates GBC on current projects in Baltimore

There has been a lot of progress on projects throughout Baltimore City, some well-known and other developments that are just as important, Kimberly A. Clark, executive vice president, Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) told GBC members at a Planning and Project Development Committee Meeting on November 17.

Key projects outlined by Clark and BDC President M.J. “Jay” Brodie include:

Baltimore Arena
While Baltimore’s 1st Mariner Arena continues to function, it is becoming “operationally inefficient and increasingly obsolete,” according to a Maryland Stadium Authority study of the 45-year-old sports and entertainment facility. The study, which the Greater Baltimore Committee helped fund, was performed by KPMG and Odell Associates, a North Carolina-based firm that specializes in major project and sports arena design and construction.

In July 2008, after reviewing “expressions of interest” from developers, BDC announced the decision to move forward with development of an 18,500-seat arena at the site of the current arena. A month later, BDC, on behalf of the City of Baltimore, issued two requests for proposals, one for a development team and another for a feasibility consultant. All development proposals are due by Wednesday, November 26, 2008.

Waterfront Neighborhoods – Harbor Point
Harbor Point, located in Fells Point at the corner of Thames Street and Caroline Street, was once the site of the Allied chemical plant, said Clark. “It’s the last waterfront site to be redeveloped,” said Brodie. Morgan Stanley has signed a lease for office space for its business services and technology group. Developers are also look at a four-star Westin hotel.

Four Seasons and Legg Mason – Harbor East
The Four Seasons Hotel & Residences is being built in Harbor East along with a second, 26-story office tower that will serve as Legg Mason Inc.’s new headquarters. The Four Seasons will have an area for outside parties, in which they are funding themselves. The City of Baltimore contributed to the streetscape and infrastructure of the project. Hogan & Hartson L.L.P. will move its Baltimore office from 111 S. Calvert Street to the space as well.

The Westport development plan, a 50-acre swath along the Patapsco River’s Middle Branch, is a mixed-use property with residential, retail and commercial space, said Clark. The development will make improvements to the water edge by creating green areas and wetlands and by having all the run off from the property filtered and cleaned. It’s shallow there, so a goal would be to have Middle Branch swimmable in 20 years, she said. It’s also been designated a BRAC Revitalization and Incentive Zone as it is close to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County and Fort George G. Meade in Anne Arundel County. It’s also close to the MARC train, light rail, and interstate 295, she said.

Charles North
The BDC has also been involved with developing a vision and physical development plan for the core area of the Charles/North Urban Renewal Area. Building on the concept of the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, BDC is seeking to acquire approximately 18 properties along the Charles Street corridor. BDC will oversee the request for proposals process, including working with stakeholders to prepare standards and controls, and the disposition process.

Last month, Mayor Sheila Dixon and the Central Baltimore Partnership unveiled a multi-phased development initiative for the Charles North community. The Central Baltimore Partnership is comprised of: MICA, University of Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University, the City of Baltimore – Office of the Mayor, Baltimore Development Corporation, Baltimore Housing, Office of Neighborhoods, Department of Planning, community organizations, and area property owners.

Meanwhile, after months of mediation between the BDC and owner of the former Chesapeake Restaurant, a long-vacant building at 1701-09 N. Charles Street that is seen as a gateway property for the redevelopment of the Station North Arts & Entertainment District, will be settled.

Park Heights
A Park Heights neighborhood master plan, released in 2006, covering 1,500 acres and affecting around 30,000 residents in an area, will include full retail, beautification on main routes, and address human development. Funding from slots is slated to go toward implementation of this plan.

The Westside initiative is a public/private partnership to renew the west side of downtown Baltimore into a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood, said Brodie “Bounded by Charles Street to the east, Pratt/Camden Streets to the south, Martin Luther King Boulevard to the west and roughly Read Street to the north, the Westside initiative is the most aggressive redevelopment plan for the Baltimore’s central business district since the 1970’s Charles Center Redevelopment Project.”

Bowley’s Lane
On October 14, 2008, BDC also announced it had entered into an Exclusive Negotiating Privilege with Chesapeake Real Estate Group and McCrary Development for the redevelopment of the former Bowley’s Lane Landfill and Eastern Sanitation Yard at 6101 Bowley’s Lane in Northeast Baltimore.

The development team proposes to develop the site as the Moravia Business Center, an estimated $31.7 million light industrial and warehouse business park, said Clark. The project would include a total of 423,800 square feet in five buildings, consisting of 115,800 square feet of flex space with the remaining 308,000 square feet in light industrial/warehouse space. The design of the buildings and layout of the site will be similar to other Class A parks.

The project is expected to generate approximately 100 construction jobs during the three year build-out period, with the creation of over 140 permanent jobs, said Clark. Over a 25-year period, the Moravia Business Center will create an estimated $20 million in new fees and taxes for the city.

Howard Park
BDC entered into negotiations for the development of a full-service supermarket in the Howard Park Business Area of Northwest Baltimore in 2006. Howard Park has not had a Class A grocery store in more than six years, said Brodie. BDC, through urban renewal, issued request for proposals and received a proposal for a partial grocery store. The community said they want a “full” grocery store. So enough land was acquired for a larger store and people in the neighboring buildings were willing to leave their homes to help the community. Relocation was provided to these residents.

Old Town Mall
Another project dating back before the Governor O’Malley administration, BDC had also issued several request for proposals (RFP) for Old Town Mall in East Baltimore. The RFP requested that the respondent include a grocery store as the anchor of the site. After reviewing the competitive bids, BDC awarded the site to Continental Realty Corporation. This gave them the footprint to get a full-service grocery store, said Brodie.

Mondawmin Mall
West Baltimore’s Mondawmin Mall is being developed by General Growth Properties. Target, the big-box retailer, recently opened a new store. The Motor Vehicle Administration branch which has one of the two free-standing buildings on the site, is also considering a move to Northwest Baltimore.

Penn Ave Facade
The Pennsylvania Avenue commercial district has undergone a block by block façade and mural program, funded through capital funds, improving the corridor. Pennsylvania Avenue had served as the cultural hub of African-American entertainment in the city from the 1920s until the 1960s.

The Ainsworth Paint Company site, located at 3200 Biddle Street, at the intersection of East Biddle Street and Edison Highway, is in a mixed residential, commercial and industrial area in the eastern portion of the city. The City designated the Ainsworth

Paint site for acquisition. The 1.2-acre parcel on Biddle Street has been a vacant eyesore for many years, but it’s neighboring the beautiful new Baltimore garage, Clark said. BDC has performed Phase I and Phase II site testing under the current EPA grant.

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