The long-planned luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel and residential project on Key Highway won the approval of the city's architectural review panel yesterday, and its developer said a timetable is in place to begin marketing the condominiums and clearing the site.
The city's Design Advisory Panel, an architectural board that makes recommendations on developments, said there were some details left to review but approved the project. It heads next month to the Baltimore Planning Commission.
Edward V. Giannasca II, president and chief executive officer of developer L. I. Square Corp., said the project is moving quickly. O'Conor, Piper & Flynn Realtors has been brought on to sell the residences.
"In the next 30 to 60 days we'll begin marketing," Giannasca said.
There will be 90 to 95 condominiums included in the 225-room harbor-front hotel project, Giannasca said. The sales will give the $140 million development a stream of income, although he said the financing is already in place for the project. He said Philip Pilevsky, a shopping center magnate who owns New York-based L. I. Square, has put together the financing package but did not reveal further details.
The development company has hired Harkins Builders to plan in the next three or four months for demolition of an old warehouse on the property, which is being purchased from the developers of the neighboring HarborView residential projects, Giannasca said. Harkins is expected to begin excavation for a parking garage in the spring, he said.
The hotel project, which has been presented several times to the design panel, evolved into what architects described as "more Federal style" with dormers and elaborate balcony railings.
The project's Federal Hill neighbors, who have been meeting with the developers for months, said they still have concerns over some details, including the look and height of the building's mechanical equipment, such as an exterior elevator mechanism.
During the same design panel meeting, other projects were sent back to their architects' drawing boards:
An office-retail-townhouse project on the Canton waterfront drew praise from panel members, who wanted to see more details and a new plan for parking so it wouldn't be on the water's edge.
The $40 million project on Boston Street, developed by Timonium-based Cignal Corp., is aiming to capture the look of old factories in the region and lure dot-com companies to twin four-story office buildings that would sit atop three levels of parking and some shops. One of the parking levels would be underground.
Neighbors understand something will be developed on the site - at least two other developers have tried since the 1980s - but they remain concerned about their views, increased traffic and the future of their neighborhood, said Ray Blankenheim, president of the Concerned Citizens of Upper Fells Point and West Canton.
The design of an office tower to be built above a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. substation at Pratt and Concord streets, being developed by Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., was sent back a third time.
The substation was built 11 years ago with a foundation for an office building. The planned 14-story glass tower, designed by RTKL Associates Inc., faces hurdles because of the load limitations on the substation. Designers and panel members also want an impressive building on the site, which is an eastern entrance to downtown.
BGE intends to sell the rights to build above the substation, possibly to Whiting-Turner.