Luxury apartments, hotel considered for city lot on west side

Development of site near Oriole Park part of revitalization efforts

November 30, 2001|By Scott Calvert | Scott Calvert,SUN STAFF

In a step that could add still more housing to downtown's west side, three developers separately have proposed building more than 180 luxury apartments on a city-owned parking lot a baseball's throw from Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

A fourth developer has pitched a 345-room hotel for the site at the southwest corner of Pratt and Paca streets.

Any of the four competing projects would transform the view at the city's doorstep and from the ballpark's stands. The proposed buildings range from 18 stories to more than 25 and would provide spectacular views of downtown.

"You probably wouldn't have to leave your unit to watch a ballgame," said Robert M. Aydukovic, director of the housing initiative led by the Downtown Partnership, a business group.

If apartments rise on the swath of asphalt, it would mark the latest push to make the west side more of a residential area. Hundreds of apartments have been added in recent years or are planned in the area stretching from Camden Yards north to near Lexington Market.

"It really does solidify or anchor that southern end," said Sharon R. Grinnell, chief operating officer of the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's economic development agency.

BDC plans to pick one of the four proposals by late March, and Grinnell said construction could begin a year from now. Because the city owns the land, it won't have to acquire properties and relocate merchants - a process that has slowed other efforts in the west-side revival.

Downtown housing experts say the demand for apartments exists, in part because of the growth of the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

"If everything gets built the way it's currently planned or on the drawing board, it would add 3,000 or 4,000 units over the next five years," Aydukovic said. "We can support 5,500 units, so demand is going to outweigh supply."

Harbour Lights would be a 22-story building with 187 apartments, 9,000 square feet of retail space and a 206-space parking garage. The developers are Pennrose Properties Inc. and MetroVen- tures/USA Inc.

The Zenith would have 181 apartments in a building with more than 25 stories. It would house a 24-hour theme restaurant and a 330-space garage. The developers are Legacy Harrison Development and Lambda Development.

Westgate Plaza would reach 23 stories, with 188 apartments, 21,000 square feet of office space, a restaurant and a 310-space garage. It would be a joint venture of W.L. Blair Development, Whetstone Development Partners Inc., Leo D'Aleo and Northwestern Mutual.

The Hilton Garden Inn would be an 18-story, 345-room hotel with a restaurant, banquet space and a 62-space valet garage. The developer is Baltimore LLC.

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