From offices to residences

URBAN LANDSCAPE

Housing: A developer receives Baltimore zoning approval for plans to renovate a 15-story office building to create 143 apartments.

July 01, 1999|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

FOR MORE THAN three decades, the building at 501 St. Paul Place housed local offices of Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey, Western Maryland Railway and Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. of Maryland, among others.

It might soon be reborn as one of Baltimore's newest apartment complexes, if a Silver Spring-based developer moves ahead with a proposed conversion.

Baltimore's Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals approved plans last week by Omega Development II LLC to convert the 15-story building to 143 apartments, with two levels of office space and on-site parking for 44 cars.

Richard Brinker, operating manager for Omega, said his group has a contract to purchase the nearly vacant building and hopes to begin construction this fall. He estimates that the conversion will cost $8 million to $9 million and said Omega is aiming to have the apartments ready for occupancy by fall 2000. Additional parking could be available in the garage at 601 N. Calvert St., he said.

The limestone-clad building would contain efficiencies, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, with monthly rents projected to range from $650 to $1,100.

Brinker said his group hopes to attract professionals who work downtown and want to live nearby. He said the development team has applied to have the building designated a local landmark so investors will be eligible for tax credits for historic preservation.

"The historic-tax credits help make the project work" economically, he said.

"There's a zero percent vacancy rate on almost all of the downtown apartment buildings right now. Our market studies indicate we can rent 11 to 12 apartments per month" in the St. Paul Street building, he said.

The Standard Oil Building was one of the first tall structures outside Baltimore's central business district when it opened in 1922. Its architect was Clyde N. Friz, one of Baltimore's premier Beaux Arts designers.

Standard Oil, the builder and original owner, was one of the great corporations of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Founded in 1870 by John D. Rockefeller, Henry Flagler and others, it controlled 90 percent of the nation's refineries at one point. It was reorganized in 1899 as Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey, and its national scope was dissolved in 1911 by order of the Supreme Court. It subsequently became known as Esso Standard Oil Co.

In 1955, the building was sold to New York real estate interests and Esso leased back eight floors for office use. Since Esso Standard Oil moved its Delaware-Maryland- District of Columbia offices to Towson in 1958, the St. Paul Place building has been leased by a variety of companies and public agencies.

Now known as the Stanbalt building, it is one of several older structures in Baltimore that have been targeted for conversion to apartments, including the Congress Hotel on Franklin Street; the Abell Building on Eutaw Street; and the former Hecht Co. department store at Howard and Lexington streets.

Enterprise Baltimore moves to new offices

The Enterprise Foundation, the nonprofit community-building organization founded by James W. and Patricia Rouse, has consolidated its three Baltimore offices in the Parren J. Mitchell Business Center at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Saratoga Street.

Enterprise is one of the anchor tenants of the building, which is part of the Terraces community in West Baltimore. The building is owned by Poppleton Village Center and the Bank of America Community Development Corp.

The Enterprise Baltimore offices that moved last week are Enterprise Homes, Baltimore Program Services and Baltimore Neighborhood Transformation.

The building is near several of the communities where Enterprise works in Baltimore, including Sandtown-Winchester, Poppleton, Murphy Homes and the Terraces community.

Pub Date: 7/01/99

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