Old Seton High building for sale

URBAN LANDSCAPE

Landmark: The 93-year-old structure, a nearby parking lot and an adjacent apartment high-rise have an asking price of over $5 million.

July 20, 2000|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

A CHARLES VILLAGE landmark, rescued by a local developer in the late 1980s, is once again up for sale and will soon be vacant.

The former Seton High School in the 2800 block of N. Charles St., home to Aetna US Healthcare, has been listed for sale with KLNB Realtors.

The asking price for the 70,000-square-foot building and a 170-space parking lot is $3.95 million.

The owner, Partners Management, seeks $5.45 million for both the former high school property and the adjacent Dell House apartment building at the southwest corner of Charles and 29th streets.

Constructed in 1907, the five-story building was closed in 1988 after Seton High School merged with Archbishop Keogh High School. The property was later acquired by the Henry J. Knott Development Co. for $3 million and converted into headquarters for the Johns Hopkins Health System.

The renovation project, which was designed by Frank Gant Architects and cost $3 million, brought 200 office workers to the block and was a cornerstone of revitalization in Charles Village.

"It's a tremendous property," said Tim Hearn, a KLNB agent who is working with broker Tom Martel. "It's very rare to find an office building in that area with that much parking."

The Hopkins health system was acquired by Prudential Healthcare, which became part of Aetna. Aetna decided not to renew its lease for the former Seton High School building when it expires at the end of summer and is transferring employees from its Charles Street offices to suburban Washington, Hearn said.

Dell House could be retained as residences or replaced with a high-rise office building containing another 100,000 square feet of space, and a 600-car garage could be built on the Maryland Avenue side of the property, under Planned Unit Development legislation enacted a decade ago.

The Dell House and Seton High School parcels occupy most of the block bounded by Maryland Avenue and Charles, 28th and 29th streets. Partners Management, which is affiliated with members of the Knott family, put it up for sale at the start of the summer. Since then, Hearn said, KLNB has had strong interest from prospective buyers. "There's a lot of activity," he said. "We show the property several times a week."

A potential buyer is the Johns Hopkins University, whose Homewood campus is a few blocks north of the Dell House and expanding rapidly. Spokesman Dennis O'Shea said he and other university officials have seen the for-sale signs around the property and intend to investigate. "It's something that we're going to take a look at," he said.

The design of new buildings on the block would have to be approved by the Planning Commission before construction could begin, according to Susan Williams, chief of current planning for Baltimore's planning department.

Plans to demolish the Seton High School also would need the Planning Commission's approval, because that would be a substantial change to the previously approved Planned Unit Development, Williams said.

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