Charles Village's `glass box' razed

Vacant '60s office building stood at 24th and St. Paul

owner to redevelop site

August 23, 2002|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

A long-vacant office building at 24th and St. Paul streets in Charles Village has been demolished, but the owner has not said what specifically will become of the site.

Formerly an IBM and city office building, the 1960s square "glass box," as it was known, sat vacant for years until a principal owner, Richard A. Grossman of Tarrytown, N.Y., decided it had aged badly and was no longer viable.

"It was an eyesore with environmental problems," Grossman said. "The building got worse, and it was no longer desirable for tenant use."

While his family-owned company, Gibraltar Management Co., is open to offers to buy the cleared site, he said, it expects to keep and redevelop it.

"We'll do something that fits, something new and different that's good for the neighborhood, a useful and lovely commercial real estate development again," Grossman said. Contrary to some residents' fears, he said, the land will not be used as a parking lot.

Pauline S. Davis, housing and economic development director of the Charles Village Benefits District, said the demolition caused a stir among residents.

"It was a total surprise since nobody informed anyone what was happening," Davis said. "Nobody was distraught" over the loss of the building, she said, "because it was in the middle of historic buildings and stuck out like a sore thumb."

Directly across the street is a stately building with white columns, known as the Federal Land Bank building and long occupied by an engineering firm, Whitman Requardt & Associates LLP, which moved to the Inner Harbor.

The nonprofit Baltimore Child Abuse Center, which bought the building for just more than $1 million, uses only the sixth floor, said Executive Director Peggy Mainor. City police detectives assigned to abuse cases work on the first floor.

Mainor plans to fill the rest of the floors with children's organizations and build a new community meeting room. She was pleased to see the building across the street come down. "It was getting vandalized with graffiti and broken windows," Mainor said. "I didn't think it sent a good message."

As the building came down, another one nearby got new life. The city zoning board gave the green light Tuesday to conversion of a vacant industrial building at 2601 N. Howard St. into 93 apartments.

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