7 teams in running to handle east-side biotech park project

National, local developers to be vetted by nonprofit to give first-phase plans

April 28, 2004|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF

Seven teams of developers, including several nationally and locally prominent firms, are vying to build the initial phase of a heralded East Baltimore revitalization effort centered around a biotech park.

"We're very pleased by the level and the quality of development interest in the first phase of development," said Jack Shannon, president and chief executive officer of East Baltimore Development Inc., the nonprofit organization overseeing the redevelopment north of the Johns Hopkins medical complex.

The teams responded by last Friday's applicant deadline; qualifications sought included "life science and biotech development experience" and a "track record of high quality, successful urban mixed-use commercial and residential development."

The initial phase of the project involves a 20-acre parcel bounded by Broadway on the west, Madison Street on the south, Washington Street on the east and Eager Street on the north. It will include three life sciences buildings, a 1,400-car parking garage, ground-floor retail space and a minimum of 300 residential units.

Among those trying to secure the job:

The Washington office of Forest City Enterprises, a Cleveland-based developer whose stock is publicly traded, with partners including local builders Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., A&R Development Corp. and Doracon Contracting, Inc.

Lyme Properties, a Cambridge, Mass., company that has developed several medical research buildings in New England, which lists Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse Inc. on its team.

A group led by Republic Properties Corporation, a privately owned Washington development firm, that includes Enterprise Homes and local developer Wendy Blair.

A team led by Boston- and Washington-based Spaulding & Slye Colliers, which helped develop Boston's BioSquare, with local broker Colliers Pinkard as a partner.

Boston-based Beal Companies.

Columbia-based Structures Unlimited Inc.

Federal Development LLC of Washington.

"When we learned of the idea for the project, I think it's safe to say we believed in it very much," said Stephen Sattler, a spokesman for Forest City, which is completing a biotech park next to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus.

After reviewing the teams' qualifications, East Baltimore Development will ask some or all of them to respond to a more detailed "request for proposals" to be issued next month, Shannon said.

The request will solicit design ideas for the first life sciences building and housing units, as well as detailed plans for inclusion of minority contractors and hiring of local residents, he said. Selection of a single developer for the initial phase is expected by fall.

City officials have hailed the project, more than three years in the making and projected to take a decade or more to complete, as an effort to transform a blighted swath of the east side.

Under the vision outlined by city officials, blocks scarred by empty lots and vacant buildings would be replaced by new science laboratories and houses at a cost of $800 million in public and private funds.

The project's first phase will require relocating 13 businesses and the residents of 255 households, about 40 percent of whom are homeowners. Notices informing residents that they would have to move were sent out in mid-February and Shannon said almost all have met with counselors to discuss moving and relocation benefits.

In all, the city is condemning 831 properties for the project's first phase, including 563 vacant buildings and lots. It has promised to deliver the parcel as an "assembled and clear site" to the selected developer.

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