A Virginia developer is moving ahead with a new townhouse community on an industrial swath of Baltimore's Greektown neighborhood but scaling back more ambitious plans to build condos and apartments.
Representatives of Kettler, a land and multifamily housing developer based in McLean, Va., said Thursday they are in talks with potential builders of 125 townhouses planned for nearly 5 acres several blocks south of Eastern Avenue.
The developer, which has owned the site for six years, has the support of community members who say the project will play a key role in spurring neighborhood revitalization. Plans approved in 2006 by the city have not come to fruition because of the housing crunch and recession.
"We have the ability to get started on this block," said Charlie Kieler, a senior vice president at Kettler.
To move forward, Kettler needs city approval to modify the $200 million venture, which would have been one of the biggest residential developments in the city with more than 1,000 upscale condos, apartments and townhouses on 15 acres.
The company presented its altered plan Thursday to the city's Urban Design and Architecture Review panel. It showed the first phase of development - three-story garage townhouses on a site bounded by Fait and Foster avenues and Oldham Street.
Plans call for homes that are affordable for first-time buyers, possibly starting in the low- to mid-$200,000 range, said Luke Radlinski, director of land sales for Kettler.
The project would offer new housing in a growing part of East Baltimore near the Johns Hopkins Bayview campus and close to the expected transit stop that would serve Baltimore's proposed east-west Red Line light rail. Developers are promoting the site for its proximity to Greektown restaurants on Eastern Avenue and Patterson Park.
"We're keenly aware of the job engine that Johns Hopkins Bayview is and hope to tap into that energy that's up north of Eastern Avenue," Radlinski said. "We think our location, easily commutable and walkable, in the immediate area of Greektown and Canton ... is going to make us a draw for young professionals and young families."
Kettler's development would continue a transformation of former industrial land that has occurred from Harbor East to Canton to Brewer's Hill. It would be a crucial component in attracting additional investment to revitalize Greektown, said Jason Filippou, executive director of the Greektown Community Development Corp.
Another developer has already begun construction and sales of townhomes in the 97-unit Athena Square on a nearby site on Oldham Street.
Radlinski said Kettler has no plans now to proceed with development on the remaining nine acres it owns in Greektown. But Kettler hopes to start construction of the townhouses by early next year.
The design panel postponed voting on the proposal and asked Kettler to return after making revisions to the layout of the homes and expanding public green areas.