Condos, apartments to replace Bohager's

2 projects to rise up to 13 stories, and there are grumblings

April 04, 2003|By Meredith Cohn | Meredith Cohn,SUN STAFF

Gone will be the infamous "college nights" and "foam parties" at Bohager's. The monster bar with the tent-like roof that stretches along a mostly industrial block of waterfront between Inner Harbor East and Fells Point will make way this summer for a vastly different crowd - the kind who spend a half-million dollars on a condo.

Two brick and glass buildings with upscale apartments and condominiums will rise as much as 13 stories and further transform the area that now has tall, modern hotels and offices to its west and new housing and businesses to its east.

The condos, expected to cost about $500,000, and the apartments, with rentals starting about $1,100 a month, will sit atop parking garages and street-level shops, according to their developers, two suburban homebuilders. They made their first public presentations yesterday to the city's Design Advisory Panel, which makes architectural recommendations.

"We see a long-term need for housing in the Inner Harbor and Fells Point areas that is not being met," said Thomas E. Marshall, vice president of Elm Street Development, a McLean, Va.-based company that is relatively new to urban-style, high-rise apartment development.

Elm Street and local developer Wendy Blair plan eight floors of apartments on top of five floors of parking that will have retail at street level. The plan is to have 290 to 325 studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments, with rents ranging from $1,100 to nearly $2,000 a month. A groundbreaking will likely come in the fall, and the $55 million project will take about 18 months to build, according to the developers.

The apartment project would face Eden Street between Lancaster and Aliceanna streets.

The second, and smaller, project, facing Caroline Street between Lancaster and Aliceanna, would likely start this summer and incorporate 48 condo units, including some duplexes, in a 10-story building, according to the developer, Cignal Corp.

Timonium-based Cignal is nearing completion on a townhouse project on Boston Street in Canton. Joseph V. Maranto, a principal at Cignal, said only 10 of the 84 townhouses are unsold, prompting him to seek another city housing project.

While noise-adverse neighbors said they are glad to see Bohager's club at 701 S. Eden St. close and the property for sale, they are concerned that there is too much planned for a site of less than 1.17 acres.

Kay Hogan, who represents area preservation and neighborhood associations, said the two projects are too big and will "tower over" surrounding buildings and further crowd the streets with cars.

"We prefer townhouses, something lower, something that says welcome to Fells Point," she said. "We don't want such density on our doorstep."

Maranto, who worked with neighbors to scale back his Canton project, said he has already reduced the size of the new project - which faces few development restrictions.

There is no urban renewal plan in place, although a zoning change is being requested to allow for housing.

As proposed, the projects will be 120 feet and 95 feet tall - significantly lower than the 32-story Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel and other buildings that are part of the Inner Harbor East development recently completed and under way. But they will be much taller than the historic two-story rowhouses, and even some new housing and office buildings that line the streets and waterfront of Fells Point.

In coming months, the developers will be seeking architectural and planning approval. Elm Street Development will also be seeking tax abatement to help pay for the project.

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