First, city officials lured Bank One to the 1000 block of E. Fayette St. across from the main post office, where the company opened a check-processing facility last year that is expected to generate 500 jobs.
Then came Chesapeake Advertising, which recently broke ground on a building in the 900 block of E. Fayette, with plans to employ about 75 people when it opens.
Now Baltimore Development Corp. officials are trying to decide who will purchase three remaining properties on East Fayette Street and two others on Baltimore Street to join those businesses in what's called the East Fayette Street Corridor Business Center.
Available are properties at 1107-1133 E. Fayette St., where an abandoned building sits; 1100 E. Baltimore St., the former Hendler Creamery; and 1110 E. Baltimore St., where the Postal Service used to have a warehouse.
The properties are being offered as one site, with a requirement that the Hendler building be preserved, said Andrew Frank, executive vice president of BDC.
The East Fayette Street Corridor Business Center is near Pleasant View Gardens, which is on the site of the former Lafayette Courts public housing complex, and about a mile from Johns Hopkins Hospital. BDC, which owns the properties, is considering proposals it has received for the parcels and plans to make a decision by the end of next month, Frank said.
Frank said the proposals - which range from retail shops to assisted living facilities to parking garages to grocery stores - "show great interest" in the corridor, "which we think is an important connection between downtown, the major employment center in the city, and Johns Hopkins."
The list of prospective developers includes prominent businessman C. William Struever and Anthony J. Ambridge, former City Council member and city real estate officer, who are part of a group called Hendler's LLC.
Their proposal calls for a mixed-use development in two phases that would entail redeveloping the Hendler building for community, cultural and educational uses on the upper floors and retail on the lower level, and later constructing a building with a grocery store on the ground floor and a 366-space parking garage above.
"Certainly, the work that we have done in Greater Fells Point has left us confident that this area is ripe for development," said Janet Marie Smith, vice president of planning and development for Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse.
Another proposal calls for day care, overnight respite care and assistance to the underemployed, including ex-offenders, newly rehabilitated substance abusers and low-income families.
Marty Azola, president of Azola and Associates, and Kenneth Banks propose to convert the Hendler building into an assisted care facility, with a two-story parking garage next-door. They plan to convert the Fayette Street building into a neighborhood retail center featuring essential services not within walking distance for Pleasant View Garden residents, like a grocery store and restaurant.
"We're going to have to start with the [super]market initially ... because that's the most important," Azola said. "The other amenities, like the cleaners, there will be a hierarchy of what's most important. ... We would like to put in a little neighborhood restaurant, but we don't want to compete with Corned Beef Row."