Design panel questions plans for apartments proposed for Haussner's site

Design panel scrutinizes apartments proposed for Haussner's site

A city design panel sent plans for a new, six-story apartment building on the site of the legendary Haussner's restaurant back for another round of review Thursday, expressing dissatisfaction with the project as introduced.

The Garver Development Group building, to include 65 apartments, about 1,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and a parking garage, would replace a local landmark and is expected to be the tallest in mostly two-story Highlandtown, rising nearly 70 feet.

Panel members said they wanted to see more information about building materials and were worried the plans by architecture firm Alexander Design Studio were too generic, with a ground-floor design that did not acknowledge the architectural rhythm of the surrounding commercial street.

"This neighborhood needs something strong to come back in [Haussner's] place," said Pavlina Ilieva, a member of the city's Urban Design & Architecture Review Panel and program director of Morgan State University's undergraduate architecture and design program. "The idea that this could be in any neighborhood is somewhat problematic."

Haussner's, famous for its strawberry pie and art collection, operated in the Eastern Avenue location for 73 years before closing in 1999. The building was occupied briefly by a steakhouse, as well as the headquarters for Moveable Feast, but has been vacant for more than 10 years.

Garver Development Group purchased the property, as well as two adjacent rowhouses, in June for $740,000, just before a second scheduled auction of the property, located at the corner of Eastern Avenue and Clinton Street close to Patterson Park and the Creative Alliance.

Principal Peter Z. Garver said the firm intends to tear down the buildings, hoping to start work on the more than $10 million project next summer and open in the fall of 2017. The apartments are planned as mostly one-bedroom units, set around a small interior courtyard, with monthly rents of about $1,500. Each apartment would have a dedicated parking space in the garage.

Garver, who worked at Corporate Office Properties Trust before starting his firm, also participated in the Montgomery Park building in Southwest Baltimore and the new Whole Foods in Columbia.

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