Developers picked for two Pigtown blocks

BUSINESS DIGEST

August 23, 2006|By LORRAINE MIRABELLA | LORRAINE MIRABELLA,SUN REPORTER

New restaurants, shops and apartments are slated for Pigtown's main commercial district under two city-approved proposals for the rebounding neighborhood in Southwest Baltimore.

The Baltimore Development Corp., the city's development agent, said yesterday that it has selected two of the seven teams that were vying to revitalize dilapidated portions of the 700 and 900 blocks of Washington Blvd.

In the 900 block, Historic Pigtown Development LLC plans a $1.6 million renovation of seven mostly vacant properties. The Thirsty Pig restaurant will open in a 3,000-square-foot, ground-level portion of a corner building, with office space on the second floor and four apartments on the third floor.

The Historic Pigtown team will combine another three rowhouses for a ground-level shop with three more apartments on the upper levels. Plans call for an artist's gallery and upstairs residential loft in another building.

The city also awarded rights to develop four properties in the 700 block of Washington Blvd. and one on Eislen Street for one or two first-floor restaurants with eight apartments or condominiums on the upper floors. The rights were awarded to a team composed of New City One LLC and Magnum Construction Inc.

In seeking redevelopment proposals, city officials said they're hoping to attract much-needed retail to the neighborhood, while creating a 24-hour district with offices and residences, said Mary Pat Fannon, director of Baltimore Main Streets, an initiative of the BDC that helps revitalize neighborhood commercial districts.

Fannon said the neighborhood has pent-up demand for apartments that could be marketed to students and workers at the University of Maryland Medical Center and graduate school complex.

Officials and developers are hoping the projects - the neighborhood's biggest ever commercial redevelopment - will stimulate additional retail redevelopment along Washington Boulevard.

"This is a corridor that has not seen much if any private investment over the last 20 years," Fannon said. "It's a neighborhood that's been plagued by absentee landlords and speculators."

Tristan O'Connell, project manager for Historic Pigtown Development, said the team hopes to start construction by next spring and have the restaurant open a year from now.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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