Macht building owners to stay

URBAN LANDSCAPE

Landmark: Purchase of former Kavanagh's property next door is a sign of commitment to downtown.

May 06, 1999|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

WHILE BUILDINGS all around town have been targeted for demolition, one Baltimore property owner has made a commitment to stay downtown and expand there.

Amy Macht, head of two organizations that occupy the historic Macht Building at 11-13 E. Fayette St., is part of a group that recently acquired the adjacent structure at 15 E. Fayette and plans to begin a $500,000 to $600,000 renovation that will prepare it for continued use as office and retail space.

Macht is president of Regional Management Inc., a company that manages more than 5,000 apartments throughout the Baltimore area. A graduate of the University of Maryland's architecture school, she is also the president of the Morton and Sophia Macht Foundation, a charitable organization.

Both are based in the Macht building, which dates from 1908 and has been designated a city landmark. As the organizations have grown, the 9,000-square-foot building has become increasingly crowded with staffers, and Macht had been looking for ways to expand without damaging it.

The answer was clear when the owners of Kavanaugh's clothing store decided to vacate their premises at 15 E. Fayette St.

Last year, Macht formed a group called Fayette Street Associates LLC that acquired control of Kavanaugh's 15,000-square-foot building by buying the note from the previous mortgage holder. She plans to renovate the interior to contain upper-level offices to supplement space in the Macht building. The street-level retail space formerly occupied by Kavanaugh's will be converted to a leasing center for Regional Management, and the front of the building will be restored to approximate the way it looked in the 1940s.

The four-story building at 15 E. Fayette St. was constructed about 1905 on the foundation of another building that was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1904. It originally housed Morris Plan Bank, a lending institution that became Public Bank of Baltimore in the 1930s. Kavanaugh's moved there in the 1960s.

Macht said she is happy to be able to stay in the area.

"We have an attachment to where we are," she said. "There was really no other opportunity to increase our space except to join up with the building next door. We're glad to get this opportunity."

Macht is one of numerous property owners who opposed city plans this year to raze eight buildings on the next block north to make way for a 12-story garage. The city backed off from plans to demolish buildings in the block bounded by Fayette, Charles, Lexington and St. Paul streets.

Hord, Coplan & Macht Inc. of Baltimore is the architect for 15 E. Fayette St., with Kathleen Lechleiter as project manager and Brian Kuebler and Brett Lundmark as design team members. (Partner Carol Macht is Amy Macht's sister.) The renovations are scheduled for completion by the end of the year.

Howard Street tour covers blocks to be demolished

Now that the City Council has approved plans by Baltimore Development Corp. to acquire more than 100 properties for redevelopment on the west side of downtown, a preservation group is sponsoring walking tours to show what areas are affected.

Baltimore Heritage, a preservation advocacy group, will sponsor guided tours of five neighborhoods along the Howard Street corridor Saturday, starting at the University of Baltimore's Gordon Plaza at Maryland and Mount Royal avenues. Registration is from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tours will leave Gordon Plaza at 9: 30 a.m., 10 a.m., 10: 30 a.m. and 11 a.m.

The cost is $20, or $15 for Baltimore Heritage members. Participants can also take self-guided tours.

The neighborhoods on the tour are Antique Row/Mount Vernon, Seton Hill, Market Center, University Center and Camden Yards.

"Everyone should understand what this city stands to lose if the current plans to demolish entire blocks on the west side of downtown go through," said Bill Pencek, president of Baltimore Heritage. "The incredible variety of architectural styles and adaptations on the West Side represents a tapestry of 200 years of building."

Information: 410-605-0462.

JoAnne Brackeen Quartet to follow Ellington tribute

The JoAnne Brackeen Quartet will perform at 8 p.m. tomorrow at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1900 St. Paul St. in Baltimore. The concert is part of the Jazz in Cool Places series that matches talented musicians with memorable performing spaces. It will be preceded by a salute to Duke Ellington by the Dunbar Jazz Ensemble, starting at 6: 30 p.m.

The cost is $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Information: 410-235-9733.

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