Daily Briefing

DAILY BRIEFING

July 24, 2009

Affordable housing planned after luxury condo financing fell through

A plan to build luxury condominiums on Baltimore's west side that has stalled amid the recession is being reborn as an affordable housing project, M.J. "Jay" Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., said Thursday. Brodie said Washington, D.C.-based Oak Street Developers Ltd. presented revised plans to the BDC's project committee and plans to proceed with new housing at North Howard and Madison streets, across from Maryland General Hospital. Oak Street had acquired the property and razed existing buildings but was unable to get financing to proceed with M on Madison, originally planned as a 72-unit mix of studio, townhouse-style and penthouse homes with private rooftop terraces. Brodie said the developer has formed a new partnership and plans to write down the cost of the project with the help of state low-income housing tax credits. A representative of the partner heading the project could not be immediately reached Thursday for comment.

- Lorraine Mirabella

Under Armour hires leader for footwear division

Sports apparel company Under Armour said yesterday that it has hired Gene McCarthy, an executive with more than 25 years of experience at shoe and athletic companies, to head its footwear division. McCarthy will assume the role of senior vice president of footwear Aug. 10. McCarthy most recently served as co-president of the $1.4 billion Timberland company. He has also worked as senior vice president of global footwear for Reebok and worked at Nike for more than 21 years, where he led the Brand Jordan team for four years as the global director of sales and retail marketing. McCarthy will report to Under Armour President David McCreight. Footwear is a key component of Under Armour's future growth strategy. The company began offering footwear products in 2006 and had been looking for someone to lead the division since the beginning of this year.

- Andrea K. Walker

DeWalt tools will not renew NASCAR driver sponsorship

Roush Fenway Racing said Thursday it was told that DeWalt power tools would not renew its sponsorship with NASCAR champion Matt Kenseth. Team president Geoff Smith said in a news release that the racing company wasn't surprised DeWalt, which is owned by Towson-based Black & Decker, would give up the sponsorship since the decline in the construction industry has hurt power tool companies. The company said others are interested in sponsoring the racecar driver.

- Andrea K. Walker

Proposals sought to redevelop historic Sphinx Club on west side

The Baltimore Development Corp. reissued a request Thursday for proposals to redevelop the storied Sphinx Club on Pennsylvania Avenue in Druid Heights, which the city and community members hope will be transformed into a museum, arts center, shops, housing or another community use. The BDC had acquired the now vacant club in the 2100 block of Pennsylvania Ave. in 2008. BDC first offered the collection of five buildings for redevelopment a year ago but received no proposals it deemed acceptable. Since then, BDC has received one unsolicited proposal. Pennsylvania Avenue served as the cultural hub of African-American entertainment in the city from the 1920s until the 1960s, when much of the area was destroyed in the 1968 riots. The private Sphinx Club, opened in 1946, was known for after-show parties with jazz musicians and local celebrities. It found a niche among the jazz clubs, theaters and nightclubs - most notably the Royal Theater - where entertainers such as Cab Calloway and Billie Holiday performed. Recent renewal in the area has included the development of Legends Park, an unused green space that will be used for jazz concerts, and facade and streetscape improvements along the commercial corridor. Developers' proposals are due to the BDC by Sept. 18.

- Lorraine Mirabella

W.R. Grace says profits fell in the second quarter

W.R. Grace & Co. said Thursday that second-quarter profits dropped 39.9 percent to $19.3 million, or 26 cents per share, compared with $32.1 million, or 44 cents per share, during the same period a year ago, as sales continued to lag because of the economy. But Hudson La Force, the company's CFO, said in a phone interview that the company saw some improvements in the balance sheet from the first quarter. The company's earnings were hurt by costs associated with its bankruptcy. It expects to emerge from bankruptcy at the end of this year or early next year. Second-quarter sales declined 21 percent to $711 million, compared with $900 million during the same period last year. The company also said it expects to have 5,900 employees worldwide by the end of the year, down about 6 percent from the end of last year.

- Andrea K. Walker

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