Development: A 30-home project being built on the Canton waterfront is going up literally. The homes will be five stories above the ground, and prices will be high, too.

TOWNHOUSES IN THE SKY

August 11, 1996|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

Eight years ago, local architects Mark Levin and Jay Brown broke a price barrier of sorts when they designed luxury townhouses on Baltimore's waterfront that cost more than $300,000.

This summer, they are part of a team that is attempting to set an even higher standard, with waterfront townhouses priced at up to $450,000.

Lighthouse Landing is the name of a $10 million development in Canton that will contain 30 three-story residences, all featuring panoramic views of Baltimore's harbor shoreline.

Now under construction off the 2700 block of Boston Street, it represents the first new residential development along Canton's shoreline in nearly a decade.

What makes these residences so unusual is that they are "townhouses in the sky" -- dwellings that are literally lifted five stories off the ground so that they give residents more privacy and bird's-eye views of the surrounding landscape.

The houses have been designed to rise on top of a $1.8 million boat repair and storage facility that is being constructed as part of the Baltimore Marine Center at Lighthouse Point.

"No one has ever done anything like this before," said Dr. Selvin Passen, a Canton resident who serves as managing partner for the group that is developing the property.

"Residents will have all the conveniences they need plus a waterfront view second to none in the city. It will be the place to live in Baltimore," Passen said.

The residences are unlike any other on Baltimore's waterfront because the developers set out to "build a better mousetrap," said Levin, principal-in-charge for Levin/Brown and Associates.

"It's like taking a townhouse neighborhood and putting it five stories in the air," Levin said. "The houses really focus on the views. One wall of each house consists entirely of windows facing the water."

Lighthouse Landing is the latest of several privately funded projects that indicate a renewed interest from developers in the Canton shoreline.

The Safeway grocery store chain is about to open on the eastern half of the old American Can Co. property at Boston Street and Lakewood Avenue. Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse has announced plans to redevelop the western half with offices and upscale retailers such as a Bibelot book and music store and a Donna's coffee bar.

Passen's group, East Harbor Marine Center, acquired 11 acres of the Canton waterfront in early 1994 after previous developers ran into financial trouble. The group invested $2.5 million to assemble four parcels stretching between the Anchorage Tower the 2500 block of Boston Street and Tindeco Wharf in the 2800 block -- the longest single stretch of private waterfront in Canton.

For decades, the land was home for the J. S. Young Licorice Co. In recent years, it has become the setting for a regional marina and recreational center with several hundred boat slips. A pool and cabana club opened last month, and city zoning codes permit additional commercial and residential development.

Lighthouse Landing is the largest undertaking to get under way since Passen's group took control of the property. Construction began last week on the boatel portion of the project, which will have storage and repair space for up to 200 boats.

Measuring 360 feet by 150 feet, the brick-clad boatel was designed to support the weight of the 30 townhouses that will be on its roof.

Plans call for 12 houses to be built on the eastern side, overlooking Fort McHenry, the Key Bridge and the outer harbor; 12 to be built on the western side, facing Fells Point and the downtown skyline; and six to rise on the southern edge, with views of both the Inner Harbor and outer harbor. The houses will frame an open-air courtyard that will provide common space for all 30 residences.

Each townhouse will be 22 feet wide and 55 feet deep, with about 2,800 square feet of living space, including three or four bedrooms and balconies on every level.

The developers say they are prepared to finish the units or leave them as shells so buyers can alter them as they wish, with features such as private elevators and multistory spaces.

"We've taken the approach that each of these could be a custom house," he said. "The possibilities are endless."

Prices start at $275,000 for the houses on the side and $375,000 for the center units. The two corner units will be priced at $450,000 or more, depending on how they are finished.

In addition to the boat repair facilities, the base will contain 120 parking spaces, including two for each residence and 60 for other users of the marina. As part of the development, the group will renovate two historic buildings constructed for the licorice factory. They will be used for office and retail space, plus a community room and additional storage for the townhouse residents.

The team also intends to complete a public promenade all along the shoreline -- part of the seven-mile walkway linking Canton with downtown and South Baltimore -- and add another 150 slips to the marina.

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