Locust Point group backs townhouse plan

Project would add 71 units and public parking to area

April 19, 2004|By Antero Pietila | Antero Pietila,SUN STAFF

Despite some misgivings, Locust Point residents have overwhelmingly endorsed a local builder's plan to erect 71 townhouses selling in the $400,000 range in their rapidly gentrifying South Baltimore peninsula.

"It was a pleasant surprise because it was a long haul," developer John William Ruppert III said after the Locust Point Civic Association approved his $25 million project by a 62-12 vote Wednesday night.

Over the past 15 months, the association has hotly debated three Ruppert development proposals, with some members arguing that more residences would aggravate Locust Point's parking problems.

Before the vote was taken, civic association President Joyce Bauerle warned members that Locust Point real estate was so hot that developers would continue descending on their community. "I'd rather go with someone who would give us some concessions," she said of Ruppert Homes of Perry Hall.

Ruppert's plan is to build 2,000-square-foot garage townhouses in three rows on parcels bounded by Beason, Lowman, Clement and Decatur streets. An existing warehouse would be demolished, he said.

William P. Monk, an engineering and architectural consultant for Ruppert, said the 20-foot brick townhouses would be three stories. Each would have a rooftop deck.

Because Ruppert wanted the neighborhood's support first, he has yet to submit his proposal to the city. For it to become reality, the City Council must approve a zoning change. The project would also have to go through the normal review processes, community planner Jerome Chou said.

Ruppert said he hopes to fast track the process enough to start construction by the end of the summer.

One feature that seemed to impress those at the Locust Point meeting was Ruppert's promise to create 160 off-street public parking spaces. He said the townhouse residents' parking needs would be taken care of by providing each home with a double garage and a two-car parking pad.

A recent city development plan projects that Locust Point could accommodate 565 additional housing units. It has become increasingly popular - and expensive - in recent years as office parks have replaced many of the waterfront's smokestack plants.

Not far from the Ruppert project, another developer wants to convert the 15-acre site of an old 297-foot grain elevator into condominiums and offices. That plan is expected to be voted on by the Locust Point association this week and submitted to the Planning Commission next month.

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