Angelos takes on Charles Center Downtown: Orioles owner hopes to revitalize complex that started Baltimore's renewal.

November 17, 1997

WHEN ORIOLES OWNER Peter G. Angelos acquired One Charles Center a year ago, he bought more than a 22-story office tower. He bought the cornerstone of a 1950s revitalization campaign that produced the city's first modern office campus and paved the way for the transformation of the Inner Harbor.

Just think: The 1961 groundbreaking for One Charles Center marked the first time since the late 1920s that a major building was under construction in downtown Baltimore.

Mr. Angelos, a young lawyer and member of the City Council in those days, remembers all the excitement. Thirty-six years later, the hugely successful litigation lawyer has now decided to take a lead role in a campaign to revitalize Charles Center and the surrounding area.

He has big plans: Mr. Angelos wants to tear down the overhang of the former Hamburger's building, which has formed a visual barrier on Fayette Street between Charles Center and the rest of the downtown business district. He then wants to expand and reconfigure the building and fill it with prestige retail and office tenants, including a first-class restaurant.

He has other plans in the area as well and keeps pursuing them with a number of potential partners, who have formed the Central Business District Coalition of Baltimore. "The idea is to get the area back to where we were 30 years ago," Mr. Angelos explains.

The entry of the Angelos group comes at an intriguing time. Because initial covenants are soon to expire, Charles Center's modernization -- including the possible redevelopment of the Morris A. Mechanic Theater component -- is a priority. Other nearby redevelopment opportunities also are on the horizon.

The Angelos group apparently feels that Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and his Baltimore Development Corp. have not given these matters the attention they deserve. For that reason, Mr. Angelos wants commercial property owners to take charge.

We laud Mr. Angelos' initiative, but urge him to cooperate with such established organizations as the Downtown Partnership.

Mr. Angelos has one big advantage: Money. In Baltimore, as in other cities, money talks. Ideas that are backed by money usually stand a good chance of becoming reality.

Pub Date: 11/17/97

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