Amid downtown retail slump, Lockwood Place is put on hold

January 18, 2002|By Meredith Cohn | Meredith Cohn,SUN STAFF

A proposed retail development on Pratt Street downtown was put on hold, possibly until next year, after an agreement was reached between the developer and the property's owner, Baltimore City Community College.

King of Prussia, Pa.-based Kravco Co., which hopes to build the retail portion of Lockwood Place, said retailers are slumping with the economy and the timing is bad for new shops. The company fears that the center would sit empty if it were built now.

Baltimore City Community College agreed to new terms that allow the developer to delay the project, possibly until 2003. The college is requiring Kravco to continue to pay ground rent as well as a lump sum if the project is never built. Kravco officials remain optimistic that the economy will turn around as early as the second quarter of this year.

"We've bought the steel for this retail building; steel exists for three floors of this and the longer it sits around the more money we lose," said Wayne Snyder, Kravco's chairman. "We want to build this. We're please the college is in sync with our objectives of completing the entire project as quickly as possible."

The garage portion of the $85 million project has broken ground. And an office component will begin in March after its own delay, according to development partner Trammell Crow Co. No tenants for that building have been announced.

Developers have already scrapped plans for a hotel.

The school said the project should still be a good deal.

"The retail market is just not strong enough for retail right now," said James D. Tschechtelin, president of the college. "But we were looking for assurances that all components of the project will be built. The lease deals with the `what ifs.' The college's interests are being protected."

Tschechtelin would not say when the project might begin or how much the company would have to pay if it backs out of the deal.

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