Hotel, office tower planned for Light Street Building: The 35-story, $100 million structure proposed for the site of the former Southern Hotel would include shops, parking, a ballroom and conference facilities.

Urban Landscape

May 07, 1998|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

EAGER TO begin construction of a $100 million hotel and office tower in downtown Baltimore, developers unveiled yesterday a new rendering that will be used to attract tenants.

One Light Street is the name of the tower, planned to replace the former Southern Hotel at 7-11 Light St. and five other buildings in the block bounded by Light, Baltimore, Grant and Redwood streets.

The rendering shows a 35-story building with its main entrance off Light Street. Designed by Peter Fillat Architects of Baltimore, it will include a lobby and shops at street level, topped by nine stories of parking (for 660 cars); a level containing a ballroom and conference rooms; nine hotel floors; and 15 levels of offices.

The developer is a group headed by an affiliate of Capital Guidance Corp. of Geneva, Switzerland.

The building has been designed to be a companion on the skyline to the NationsBank tower at 10 Light St. It will be one of the largest buildings in downtown Baltimore, rising more than 400 feet and containing 981,214 square feet of space.

The tower's curving, reflective glass exterior is expected to conceal the differences among the building's functions rather than accentuate them.

"You can't distinguish on the outside when one element stops and another begins," said J. Joseph Clarke, local representative for the development team. "It's more graceful" that way.

Clarke said the color of the glass exterior has not been selected, but he is leaning toward a grayish hue. "I want the building to look light," he said. "At night, you ought to be able to see lots of activity in the windows."

Clarke said he expects the building to add life to the heart of downtown after the workday is over, because of the combination of hotel rooms and offices.

"Most office buildings, by 6 or 7 o'clock, are shuttered and dark," he said. With the hotel, "It will be quite the opposite here. This will be a center of activity well into the evening hours."

The hotel's ballroom and meeting rooms will be available to tenants of the offices above, so they need not lease as much conference space as they might otherwise, he added.

One Light Street is one of four hotel projects planned for downtown Baltimore, with a Westin, a Wyndham and a Grand Hyatt hotel. Fillat and Clarke presented plans yesterday at a forum sponsored by the Baltimore Architectural Foundation.

The developers plan to sell the 267-suite hotel portion of the project to FelCor Suite Hotels Inc. of Dallas, the largest owner of Embassy Suites hotels. The team has signed no office tenants but plans to announce a marketing team and launch a leasing campaign in June.

Clarke said the team wants to begin construction in early 1999 and open by early 2001. If the developers adhere to that schedule, One Light Street would be the first major office tower to rise downtown since the Alex. Brown Building, formerly known as Commerce Place, opened in 1992. The historic Bagby Building, a former furniture showroom and manufacturing center built in 1901 at Fleet and Exeter streets in Baltimore, has a new owner. The four-story, 80,000-square-foot building has been sold for $1.6 million to a partnership headed by Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse and Sylvan Learning Systems.

The buyers plan to convert the building by March to Baltimore's newest office complex, home for Eisner & Associates, an advertising agency; and Caliber Learning Network Inc., an adult-education affiliate of Sylvan. The project's total cost is $12 million, which includes the acquisition price. Preliminary work began last month.

The development team plans to restore the exterior to meet federal standards for historic preservation so the project will qualify for preservation tax credits. Gensler is the project architect.

As part of the conversion, the developers are seeking approval to raise a central section of the building's roof about 4 feet so they can build a 6,000-square-foot mezzanine above the fourth level.

Historian will deliver lecture on suburban growth

"The Landscape of Mass Prosperity" is the title of a lecture about the development of Baltimore's suburbs that historian Charles Duff will deliver at 6: 15 p.m. today at Walters Art Gallery, 600 N. Charles St. The cost is $10 for the public, $5 for full-time students with valid identification and members of the Walters and the Baltimore Architectural Foundation.

Pub Date: 5/07/98

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