Plan for Federal Hill apartment building draws concerns about parking

(Hord Coplan Macht Inc. )
March 28, 2014|By Natalie Sherman, The Baltimore Sun

A proposal to build a nine-story, 305-unit apartment complex on Key Highway in front of the Digital Harbor High School prompted questions about parking and building scale at a city meeting Thursday.

Alliance Residential Company has the property, located at 1100-1200 Key Highway, under contract for a $75-$90 million project, said Tom Burkert, a Washington-based vice president of development for the company. The roughly 600-foot long site, which measures about 90 feet across, is currently owned by Richard Swirnow of Harborview Limited Partnership.

Plans for the building call for a six-story block of units placed on top of a wider, three-story base, with a 305-car parking garage and a front of apartments, possibly with stoops, facing Key Highway. The proposal also includes efforts to make the streets more pedestrian friendly.  

The project must conform to the Key Highway South Urban Renewal Plan, which includes parking requirements and height limits. The proposal shows the building rising to the limit, roughly the same height as Digital Harbor High School.  

Chris Harvey, director of design at Baltimore architecture firm Hord Coplan Macht, said a more detailed building design, which has not yet been presented, will evoke some of the area’s industrial past.

“We know this is a big building, “ he said Thursday at the project’s first review by the city’s Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel. “It has to be a building people are proud of.”

Burkert said the final mix of studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units has not yet been decided. As proposed, the garage fits one car per apartment, which Federal Hill residents have said they are concerned is not enough in an already crowded neighborhood.

“The two things that folks will be concerned about are the sightlines and the parking piece of it,” Federal Hill Neighborhood Association President Eric Costello said, adding that for the most part, the neighborhood has been receptive to theplan. “I was pleased to see those issues were raised by the UDARP panel.”

Alliance Residential is headquartered in Arizona and has properties in 15 states. This project, which will return to the panel for more discussion, is the company's first in Baltimore. Buckert said the company is hoping to break ground by the end of the year or early 2015.

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