Mix of ideas is proposed for west side

Developers submit plans to city for 5 mostly empty properties


Developers are proposing projects ranging from a mix of condominiums, shops and restaurants to a biomedical research facility to a Red Roof Inn for five mostly vacant properties scattered across downtown Baltimore's west side.

The city has received 11 proposals from developers, the city's economic development agency said yesterday. The Baltimore Development Corp. had requested proposals in April to revitalize a total of seven scattered sites in the once-struggling neighborhood. The properties, all city-owned, are near planned redevelopment projects or in blocks where new private investment is occurring, city officials said.

M.J. "Jay" Brodie, BDC president, said the agency was pleased with the number of proposals and development teams that had responded.

"It shows the value that the development community is seeing in the ongoing revitalization of the west side, and that's very heartening to those of us who have been working on it for about five years," Brodie said.

The BDC received no proposals for two of the seven sites it offered, including 213 W. Mulberry St., a vacant lot, and 210 W. Pleasant St., a parking lot. Brodie said the city will consider both for a future offering.

Since the city adopted an urban renewal plan for the area in 1999, the Hippodrome Theatre has been refurbished, and private developers have built new and refurbished apartments, offices and shops. The first condominiums are under construction in the Rombro Building, a converted garment factory.

In the current offering, four teams want to redevelop a vacant four-story building at 121 N. Greene St. Benade Group Inc. proposes turning the building into condominiums and apartments with ground-floor shops. Miller Development LLC aims to create nine apartments above first-floor shops. Urban Ex proposed a mixed-use project with a first-floor restaurant, two floors of loft offices and apartments on the upper level. Also, the University of Maryland, Baltimore wants to acquire the building to use its upper floors as the annex for the medical school's biomedical research facility across the street. The first floor would be leased to a retailer.

Two development teams are vying to redevelop 324-326 Park Ave., two adjacent, vacant three-story buildings with fire damage. Edward Asafo-Adjei proposed a redevelopment with two three-bedroom units and a large commercial use. Aproposal from Okoro Development Co. seeks to create a mixed-use office and residential project, with offices on the first floor and condos on the second and third floors.

A partly vacant, seven-story building at 200 W. Saratoga St. drew interest from the Benade Group Inc., which proposes condos and ground-floor shops, and Pioneer Contracting Co. Inc., which proposes a 42-room, limited-stay Red Roof Inn.

For 313 W. Franklin St., one development team, CC Graves & Associates, is proposing to convert the vacant two-story building into a barber-beauty shop, while Redniwa Inc., the owner of the Place Lounge bar on the first level of a next-door building, wants to acquire the building to expand the bar and put in an apartment on the second floor.

For the fifth property, a development team led by 602 N. Howard Street LLC/Landex Corp. wants to incorporate 612 N. Howard St., a vacant three-story building, into a larger redevelopment of condos, parking and commercial space planned for the west side of the 600 block of N. Howard St.

The BDC plans to review the proposals over the next two months, Brodie said.


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