Pavement grows more plentiful Parking: A wave of demolitions is under way in downtown Baltimore, where property owners are razing vacant buildings to create parking lots or increase the size of existing ones.

Urban Landscape

January 22, 1998|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

IS DOWNTOWN Baltimore becoming one big parking lot, or does it just seem that way?

In practically every corner of the city, property owners are razing vacant buildings to enlarge parking lots or make way for new ones.

The latest demolitions involve buildings in the 200 block of E. Baltimore St. and the northwest corner of Park Avenue and Franklin Street.

Also slated to come down are the home of Tate Engineering Systems at West and Russell streets near Camden Yards (due to become a 437-space lot for the Maryland Stadium Authority), and the two former USF&G Corp. buildings at Redwood and Calvert streets, (destined to make way for a garage and office complex.)

The former home of the Landmark Restaurant, in the 200 block of E. Baltimore St., is one of three buildings that were razed this week to increase the size of a parking lot owned by the Manekin Corp.

The buildings stood at 216, 218 and 220 E. Baltimore St. They were next to the former site of the Tower Building, an office tower that the Manekin Corp. tore down in the 1980s to make way for an office tower that never materialized. The land has been used as a parking lot for about 100 cars.

Constructed shortly after the Great Fire of 1904 destroyed much of downtown, the three-story commercial buildings were vacant for many years and were not protected by local landmark designation. Their demolition will create room to park another 25 to 30 cars, according to Owen Rouse, a Manekin representative.

The land is west of a block where the city recently opened a 510-space garage for BT Alex. Brown Inc. and others, and is a potential development site. Demolishing the three buildings enables the owner to "square off" the land to prepare it for new construction, rather than trying to develop a parcel that is L-shaped.

"What would make it even more marketable," Rouse said, "would be for the market to come back."

A second demolition project involves a four-story building at the northwest corner of Park Avenue and Franklin Street. Vacant for more than a decade, it last served as campaign headquarters for William G. Murphy, when he ran for mayor in the 1980s.

Part of the real estate portfolio controlled by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the building stands at the intersection where a sinkhole opened in the fall.

While repairing the sinkhole, city officials determined that the Weinberg building was structurally unsound and condemned it.

The building is being taken down in response to the condemnation order, according to David Stein, director of property development for the Weinberg Foundation.

The land will be paved and added to the parking lot that occupies much of the block bounded by Franklin, Howard and Centre streets and Park Avenue, Stein said. The Weinberg Foundation is a leading force behind the West Side Task Force, a private group that recently hired consultants to recommend ways to rejuvenate the west side of downtown.

Football stadium model on view

A scale model of the $220 million football stadium under construction at Camden Yards has gone on display in downtown Annapolis.

The model is a precisely scaled version of the 67,000-seat stadium, showing the layout of the field, seating, scoreboards and other details that will set it apart from other stadiums around the country.

It will be on display in the lobby of the Louis L. Goldstein Treasury Building on Calvert Street from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday.

The Sharper Image is leaving downtown

The Sharper Image, one of the original tenants of the Gallery at Harborplace development in downtown Baltimore, will close its doors permanently at the end of business Saturday.

Known for an unusual array of gifts and gadgets for the home and office, The Sharper Image built a strong client base by offering goods in stores and through mail order catalogs.

After Saturday, customers with questions about exchanges or returns are directed to contact the retailer at 1-800-344-5555.

New doors slated for Baltimore Street

Preservation Maryland, the state's oldest historic preservation organization, has awarded a grant of $1,500 to Southeast Development Inc. to be used to pay for the installation of "historically appropriate doors" in the 2000 block of E. Baltimore St. Fifteen houses have been targeted for renovation, and the grant is expected to cover the cost of providing 15 doors.

Pub Date: 1/22/98

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