Housing to soar above downtown Apartments: Redwood Towers, with moderately priced units, will be built atop an eight-story garage.

Urban Landscape

September 04, 1997|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

An eight-story garage in Baltimore's loft district will soon become the foundation for downtown's newest high-rise: a 151-unit, $15 million apartment building with views of the harbor and Camden Yards.

A & R Development Corp. plans to begin constructing the moderately priced apartments, called Redwood Towers, by March atop the city-owned garage at 11 S. Eutaw St.

The project is one of several being planned to address the need for housing for students and faculty at the University of Maryland's growing Baltimore campus, as well as young professionals who work downtown and want to live there.

Because Redwood Towers will be close to the Metro line that runs from downtown to the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in East Baltimore, it also would be ideal housing for students and staff at the medical school there, said Dean Harrison, development manager for A & R.

"The garage was structured so that apartments could be built above it," he said. "It was just a matter of waiting for the right time. With the new football stadium coming and more focus on living downtown and economic development in the city, it is an TC ideal time to move ahead. It makes a lot of sense for the city."

The 770-space garage was built starting in 1991 to provide parking for Oriole Park at Camden Yards, several blocks to the south.

Other residential projects proposed for the loft district include a 16-story, 271-unit apartment tower planned for the northwest corner of Howard and Lombard streets by Quadrangle Development Corp. of Washington and Baltimore developer Mendel Friedman, and the conversion to 40 apartments of the six-story Abell Building at Baltimore and Eutaw streets, by David & Annie Abrams Realty Corp.

Representatives for A & R say Redwood Towers could be completed sooner than the Quadrangle project because it has been in the works for a long time and the base is in place. If construction begins next spring, they say, the tower could open by mid-1999.

"We're not in the sketch stage. We're on track to file for [building] permits in November," said architect Lawrence A. Menefee, who is scheduled to present his plans today to the city's Architectural Review Board.

The University of Maryland's expansion -- including $1 billion worth of medical or academic buildings that have opened recently or are under construction -- triggered the developer's decision to move ahead, Menefee said.

"Everybody knows that there's a market generated by the expansion of the University of Maryland. There's a big population that wants to be able to walk from where they live to the hospital or university. If Baltimore has a chance at all, it's that centers such as the University of Maryland will start to generate spinoff activity."

Harkins Builders is the general contractor for Redwood Towers. A.R.T. Management will manage the apartments. Menefee, the head of Lawrence A. Menefee Architects, said he designed the apartments to work with the existing garage, using the existing entrances and elevator shafts.

"It's a pretty straightforward building," he said. "It has tower forms [at the corners], but I did not want to challenge the Bromo-Seltzer tower" on the same block.

Clad in brick with stone accents, the building will be U-shaped, with the open end facing south. On the ninth level, the building will have a recreational terrace overlooking the downtown skyline, as well as an exercise room and lounge.

Monthly rents will range from $435 for an efficiency to $1,400 for a luxury penthouse unit.

Most of the apartments will be two-bedroom units designed for occupancy by unrelated people, with two equally sized sleeping suites separated by a living area in the middle.

The average "mingles" apartment will have more than 1,000 square feet of space -- larger than usual for downtown. The developers are negotiating with the city to control some of the parking spaces in the garage, so they can offer them to prospective residents.

"This is upscale in terms of the size of the units and the amenities," Menefee said. "All of the units will have stacked washers and dryers, and individual heating and air conditioning. You can see the harbor and Camden Yards. But it's moderately priced."

Harrison said the building would be financed by public and private sources, and that A & R is in the final stages of lining up funding.

Though the city owns the garage, A & R owns the air rights above it. As part of a previously negotiated development agreement, the city will receive 10 percent of the "net cash flow" from the apartments, giving it a financial stake in the development.

Pub Date: 9/04/97

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