2 developers hope to construct apartment building in Remington

September 04, 2001|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Developers plan to build an upscale apartment building next to the PaperMoon diner in Remington, where the diner's owner once hoped to put a restaurant.

Although the Remington Neighborhood Alliance board is opposed, some residents are supportive of the proposal, which would require City Council approval to rezone the land.

PaperMoon owner Un Kim abandoned plans for a restaurant after community fears it would become a nightclub. The acre is under contract to developers Sandy Marenberg of Baltimore and Earl Armiger of Howard County.

The 47-unit, six-story Cresmont Loft Apartments building could represent a potential $6 million investment in a commercially struggling area along West 29th Street. What appealed to Marenberg and Armiger was the location near the Johns Hopkins University and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

"We truly see this neighborhood as ready for residential revival," Marenberg said. Hopkins employees, including hospital residents, would be likely residents for the one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, which would be priced from $900 to $1,800, he said.

Wrought iron fences are part of the plans for the project designed by Hord Coplan Macht, a Baltimore architectural firm.

"This is the first big thing to come down the pike for Remington," Sarah Fawcett-Lee declared enthusiastically at a recent meeting in Remington, which has been overshadowed by its neighbors, Hampden and Charles Village. Referring to criticism of the project, she added, "I'm absolutely appalled by the negativity."

Fawcett-Lee has agreed to serve on a small neighborhood task force that will meet regularly with the developers.

The Remington Neighborhood Alliance board has voted to oppose the apartments. Alliance President Ward Eisinger said members have concerns about the building's size, which could create density and parking problems. Marenberg said he is required by law to provide one parking space on-site for each unit and would rent off-site spaces if necessary.

Eisinger said Marenberg had failed to show that the apartments are a viable project that would benefit the community. City officials attempting to resolve the dispute invited opponents to search for other feasible options for the land. Marenberg and Armiger agreed to a 30-day search for alternative buyers until mid-September, after which, they said, they hope a cease fire will go into effect.

That leaves neighborhood leaders looking for investors with a less "intrusive" project. "We're trying to find a project that the community could embrace without being divisive," Eisinger said.

"If somebody has a better idea and can pay the [purchase] price, fine, but if not, the agreement is that we can move forward after that," Marenberg said.

Residents said a day care center has been floated as a prospect. A drugstore failed several years ago across the street.

Marenberg characterized the critics as a "vocal minority."

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