Jeff Bowers, the owner of Lexaco, says the building, in background,… (Baltimore Sun photo by Amy…)
A commercial fixture on downtown Baltimore's west side is getting a makeover in 2010. The Lexaco Building at 501 W. Lexington St., longtime home of an appliance and furniture store, is being acquired by America's Realty, a rapidly growing, Pikesville-based shopping center developer.
Carl Verstandig, president and chief executive officer of the company, said he has a contract to buy the three-story building for $650,000 and plans to spend $250,000 to $300,000 to restore its exterior and reconfigure its interior to create two retail spaces, including one for Lexaco. The sale is expected to close in early January. If market conditions warrant, Verstandig said, he may eventually renovate the upper levels to create loft apartments.
America's Realty owns about 190 retail centers in 11 states, including 58 in Maryland. In 2008, it bought 25 centers. This year, it bought 22. In greater Baltimore, Verstandig controls Edmondson Village Shopping Center, Pimlico Shopping Center, Belvedere Plaza Shopping Center and Oakleigh Shopping Center, among others.
With his son Steven, he recently bought the former Copy Cat building at Charles and 25th streets. He also has expressed interest in buying Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park.
Verstandig said the proposed acquisition of the Lexaco Building, close to Lexington Market, will be his company's first project in the west side of downtown Baltimore. He was drawn to the area by recent signs of investment there, he said, including the reopening of the Hippodrome Theater in 2004.
"We were impressed by the Hippodrome redevelopment and other things we saw going on that were positive," he said. In addition, the Lexaco Building is already prominent in the area, he said. "I'd call it a landmark."
According to the store's owner, Jeff Bowers, Lexaco is short for Lexington Appliance Co. About 100 years old, the 13,000-square-foot building housed a food market called Schreiber's before Lexaco moved there in the late 1970s, he said.
Verstandig said his plans call for slightly reducing the size of the space occupied by Lexaco and creating a new rental space for a Subway fast food outlet. He said that he wants to begin construction during the first quarter of 2010 and that it will be coordinated so Lexaco won't have to close while work is under way.