Paterakis trims height of office tower, pushes ahead in Inner Harbor East

$210 million project gets preliminary city OK

October 26, 2001|By Scott Calvert | Scott Calvert,SUN STAFF

Bakery magnate John Paterakis Sr. plans to shorten a proposed office tower in Inner Harbor East by about 100 feet, but his representatives said yesterday that a gargantuan $210 million development between downtown and Fells Point will move ahead despite the faltering economy.

"John Paterakis feels it's important for the community to keep the momentum going, and we don't want to stop it," said Michael S. Beatty of H&S Properties Development Corp.

Paterakis has shown a willingness to gamble on developments in the past. He started building the 31-story Marriott Baltimore Waterfront before landing a tenant or bank financing. And thanks to a fortune amassed baking McDonald's hamburger buns, he can write checks big enough to do it again.

His current plan calls for a 150-room extended-stay hotel, 320 apartments, 30 ritzy condominiums, dozens of shops and restaurants, 1,500 parking spaces and sprawling office space in the city blocks north and south of the 800 block of Aliceanna St., just east of the Marriott.

Work would begin in the spring and be completed in late 2003.

Yesterday, the city's Design Advisory Panel gave preliminary approval to the plan, which aims to use varying designs and materials to make it appear that the area evolved over time, as city blocks once did, instead of rising all at once.

The proposal has evolved in recent months, and the biggest change is the height of the proposed office tower, which would overlook the Katyn Memorial to Polish soldiers massacred during World War II. The tower would rise 250 feet, or 18 stories, rather than the originally planned 342 feet.

Some area residents, who sued unsuccessfully to stop the 350-foot Marriott from exceeding a 180-foot height limit in the area, dreaded what essentially would have been a twin tower.

"We were cognizant of height requirements and the concern about the height," Beatty said. "We tried to make the building fit in well, and came up with a compromise height."

The new design still would require city officials to waive the height limit.

Another significant change to the proposal is the addition of condominiums, historically a tough sell in Baltimore. H&S Properties wants to build 30 condos overlooking the water. The units would be house-size, with 2,000 square feet, and would cost about $500,000 apiece. Each would have a view of the harbor and private parking.

"There will not be one bad unit," said Thomas S. Bozzuto, a prominent Greenbelt developer responsible for the condominiums and 320 adjacent apartments.

The proposal outlined yesterday would fill two entire blocks -- from Fleet to Lancaster streets and from President to Exeter streets. It would largely fill in the area between the Marriott and a cluster of buildings that includes the headquarters of Sylvan Learning Systems.

Although Beatty said the project would be privately financed, he said the developers would ask the city for tax breaks on the office building -- now standard for virtually any major deal -- and for help paying for the parking garages.

The design goes to great lengths to create a streetscape. The garage in the residential building on the south side of Aliceanna would be wrapped by dwellings and invisible from the street.

"It's got the best of the suburbs in the city," said Beatty.

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