Monumental rentals

With a little imagination, any city landmark could get a new lease on life.

Baltimore ... Or Less

July 25, 1999|By ROB HIAASEN | ROB HIAASEN,SUN STAFF

Get up and get funky.

Landmark plans call for Baltimore's 300-foot Bromo Selt-zer clock tower to be converted to 12 panoramified apartments, city housing officials said this past week. Among other amenities, future residents would be able to watch the Orioles' bullpen collapse without paying to see it happen.

Perhaps this novel redevelopment notion for the clock tower -- Baltimore's downtown lighthouse -- will open the field for similar projects. Why should a city's landmarks be structures merely to leer at, or to list in architecture guides?

Why buy a great view of Camden Yards by buying a loft in the Bromo Seltzer tower, when Oriole Park could convert skyboxes into Boog's Bungalows? Good eats, good seats and all for $1.5 mill a year.

Other city landmarks are also ripe for redevelopment:

SHOT TOWER

Basics: Located at Fallsway and Fayette Street; built in 1828, made of 1.1 million handmade bricks.

Amenities: View of U.S. Post Office, the hub of mail service in Baltimore. Good view of upper-floor neighbors at Bromo Seltzer clock tower. Hours of fun to be had dropping watermelons or other combustible, oblong fruit from the concrete roof to the ground 234 feet below.

Possible drawbacks: View is confined to two tiny windows on the entire tower. Central AC not available. And that's a lot of bricks to clean.

2 O'CLOCK CLUB

Basics: Blaze Starr's former strip club on The Block. Still open, still looks like there's room upstairs for luxury condos.

Amenities: Baltimore's police headquarters is right down the street. Also within easy walking distance of the Sweden Emporium, Chez Joey and Club Pussycat. Hear the barkers' colorful entreaties into the wee hours.

Possible drawbacks: No Donna's coffee on The Block.

THE CONSTELLATION

Basics: An 1854 sloop-of-war, returned to Inner Harbor this month after extensive restoration.

Amenities: Permanent water view. Impress a date by taking the warship out for a spin. Great closet space, lots of extras: portholes, cannon, "bilge."

Possible drawbacks: Some lack of privacy, with streams of "visitors" parading through your bedroom; dry rot.

WASHINGTON MONUMENT

Basics: Centerpiece of Mount Vernon Place, this marble monument was built in 1829. It's 178 feet tall, with 228 steps to the top.

Amenities: Just one block from Tony Cheng's Szechuan Restaurant. City puts up your Christmas lights every year. Wrought-iron fence included.

Possible drawbacks: Circular rooms are uninhabitable, critics say (we say the units are "cozy"). And some people, unfortunately, will always compare your new home with the "other" Washington Monument.

SENATOR THEATRE

Basics: Historic Art Deco-style theater, York Road near Northern Parkway.

Amenities: First crack at first-run movies. Cool lobby for parties. No lawn to mow. Raisinettes on the house!

Possible drawbacks: Constant chatter of Jar Jar Binks, as new "Star Wars" movie plays in your living room three times a day. Landlord Tom Kiefaber's nightly dinner introductions. And accidentally stepping into the wet cement before every premiere.

Pub Date: 07/25/99

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