Locust Point project gets OK

Panel approves plan to turn grain elevator into condos

May 21, 2004|By Antero Pietila | Antero Pietila,SUN STAFF

A $200 million conversion of a former Locust Point grain elevator into an upscale, mixed-use development won an important city approval yesterday, prompting talk that construction will start in the fall.

The Planning Commission gave its unanimous backing to the proposal to rezone 15 acres west of Fort McHenry for the redevelopment.

"This is probably a three- to five-year plan," Mark Sapperstein, one of the developers of the project called Silo Point, told the commission.

He said interior demolition is going on at the site. The grain elevator went out of business a year ago, when Archer Daniels Midland Co. moved operations to Norfolk, Va.

The Silo Point development team wants to convert the 290-foot-high grain elevator, which overlooks the harbor, into condominium apartments; turn the adjoining silo into a parking garage; and construct an additional building containing 130,000 square feet of office space and 50,000 square feet of retail space.

The project will be financed privately, Sapperstein told the commission.

He said that Silo Point would have about 500 condominiums selling for an average of $500,000. The bulk would be in the grain elevator, but 121 new townhouses also would be constructed. He estimated that 350 of the buyers would come from outside Baltimore.

Last night, the City Council's land-use committee heard overwhelming citizen support for the zoning bill necessary for the project. The land-use committee is expected to endorse the bill, paving the way for final council approval.

The Locust Point Civic Association endorsed Silo Point after the developers agreed to scuttle their original plan to build a hotel in the grain elevator shell.

"It's a huge project. It will bring a lot of revenue to the city," the association's president, Joyce Bauerle, said, referring to projections that annual property taxes from the development would exceed $5 million.

Since February, the civic group has met repeatedly with the developers and city planners to make the Silo Point project more palatable to the community. In a recent meeting, the association endorsed the project by a 149-10 vote.

Locust Point, a peninsula of about 3,000 residents, has been transforming rapidly in recent years. Several old industrial buildings have been refashioned into new uses, including offices.

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