City gives OK to sale of express building

30 apartments planned for ex-delivery station

August 12, 2004|By Laura Vozzella | Laura Vozzella,SUN STAFF

City officials approved the sale of Baltimore's historic Railway Express building yesterday to developers who plan to put 30 loft-style apartments in the former parcel post office.

Railway Express LLC will pay the city $1.2 million for the building at 1501 St. Paul St. under the deal approved by the Board of Estimates.

The official purchase price is $2 million, but the city has granted an $800,000 credit toward that price because of environmental and structural problems with the building. The project is one of several meant to attract artists and professionals to the area around Pennsylvania Station.

The plan originally called for using the building's second level as commercial space. But the advertising firm that was to have occupied it, Carton Donofrio Partners, backed out. The developers say that's not a problem, given the strong demand for loft apartments and the site's proximity to Pennsylvania Station, which could make it attractive to people who commute to Washington.

The apartments will range in size from 841 to 1,456 square feet, with monthly rents of about $850 to $1,500.

The two-story, 77,000- square-foot building was built in 1929 as a sorting station for packages that arrived in Baltimore by train. It was later acquired by the city and turned into a maintenance facility and warehouse. It has been vacant since last winter.

The Department of Housing and Community Development sought proposals for redevelopment in late 2001 and received three. In spring 2002, officials selected Railway Express LLC, which includes Stanley Keyser, Martin P. Azola, Ed Hord, Kenneth Banks, Ronald Lipscomb and Anthony Ambridge. Hord's firm, Hord Coplan Macht, is the architect.

The estimated renovation cost is about $12 million, the developers have said.

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