Baltimore City Community College plans to raze the two-story William V. Lockwood building on its Inner Harbor campus to make room for a hotel-office-education complex, possibly within the next year.
City Council President Mary Pat Clarke introduced legislation last month that would change land-use restrictions and design guidelines for the college parcel to permit commercial development on part of the site.
The legislation is consistent with plans approved by the board of the state-run college to make better use of the valuable Inner Harbor parcel, which also includes a large parking lot. The L-shaped property is bounded by Pratt and Lombard streets, Market Place and the U.S. Appraisers Stores building at the southeast corner of Gay and Lombard streets.
The Lockwood building is one of two on the college's 16-year-old Inner Harbor campus, the other being the five-story Bard Building. Should the demolition plans move forward, it would be the first Inner Harbor revitalization project to be razed since the renewal effort began more than 25 years ago.
As approved by the college's board of directors last year, the master plan for the Lockwood site calls for a $90 million office-hotel-educational complex to be constructed in phases by the end of the decade.
According to a study prepared for the college by the Legg Mason Realty Group and the design firm of Probst-Mason Inc., components would include an 11-story, 280-room hotel; a 23- to 25-story, 350,000-square-foot office tower; up to 30,000 square feet of street-level retail space; a 12-story, 1,183-car garage; and new academic space on the bottom two floors of the garage building, including a bookstore.
Passage of the city legislation is required because the 1971 urban renewal plan for the campus allows the land to be used only for educational purposes and establishes design standards and controls that limit the height of any buildings to six stories. The college cannot seek outside development partners or proceed with construction unless those restrictions are removed.
College officials say that the academic programs now in the Lockwood building will be moved into the neighboring Bard Building at the northwest corner of Lombard Street and Market Place. Once the land-use controls are altered, they say, the state most likely will issue bonds to fund construction of the first building planned for the site, the 12-story garage with college classrooms and a bookstore on the lower two levels. The garage would rise along Lombard Street in place of the Lockwood building, leaving room for future development along Pratt Street.
Marion W. Pines, chairman of the college's board, said that the institution would like to obtain City Council approval in time to begin garage construction next year. She said the college most likely will not move ahead with later phases of the plan, including the hotel and office space, until the commercial real estate market improves. The legislation was introduced this year, she said, so that the college will be in a position to act should any opportunities arise.
Mrs. Pines, a former Baltimore housing commissioner, said she is aware of recent studies that show there is surplus parking in city-owned garages and that some city officials are concerned that construction of any non-city garages could mean decreased revenues for the city-owned ones.
But she noted that the community college garage will help make up for space lost when construction begins on the $164 million Christopher Columbus Center for Marine Research and Exploration planned for Piers 5 and 6.
The garage will also be in a good position to serve Columbus Center visitors and employees as well as those of other Inner Harbor attractions and the development on the college campus as well, she said.
Mrs. Pines said that the college will update its market studies "on everything" before beginning work on the garage or any other phase of the project. She added that the Lockwood building will stay up until the college is ready to begin construction of a replacement building.
Before the full council votes on the legislation, public hearings will be held by the Planning Commission and the council's Urban and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee.
Besides changing the land-use restrictions to permit commercial development, the city legislation would also permit two significant changes to the Inner Harbor master plan to accommodate this project. First, it would allow the office tower to rise 25 stories -- when other new buildings have been limited to 11 stories along Pratt Street. Second, it would allow the 25-story portion of the project to come within 20 feet of Pratt Street -- when other new buildings were required to be set back 80 feet.