Baltimore seeks developers for Howard Street block

City seeks developers for 20 west side properties

The city said Tuesday it is looking for proposals from developers interested in buying and reviving a lifeless section of the once vital Howard Street commercial corridor.

The 20-city owned properties, all but one of them vacant, lie on the eastern side of Howard Street, behind the Enoch Pratt Free Library on a block bounded by Park Avenue and Franklin, Mulberry and Howard streets.

Developers can bid on some or all of the properties. In the request for proposals, the Baltimore Development Corp. said it is looking for projects that will increase the area’s residential poulation, enhance street life and celebrate the historic character of the buildings.

“We are committed to the continued revitalization of the Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District as it is important to growing the city and supporting the arts,” said BDC President and CEO William H. Cole in a statement. “There is great potential for this area to be a vibrant, multidimensional community, with diverse commercial and residential options.”

The city spent more than $3 million acquiring the properties, purchasing about half of them around 1998, during an earlier push for redevelopment of the west side. Another cluster was purchased around 2009.

Many of them are historic two and three-story buildings protected by agreements negotiated with the Maryland Historic Trust and eligible for a range of historic and other tax incentives.

Last year, the Baltimore Development Corp. paid architecture firm Murphy & Dittenhafer Inc. to develop guidelines for future development of the 2.5-acre site. That plan, completed this spring, called for adapting the buildings for commercial use on the ground floor, creating more than 200 new new residential units on top.

Proposals are due Oct. 27. The BDC will assemble a review panel to evaluate submitted proposals and expects to start exclusive negotiations this winter.

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