Cross Street Partners part of team to take on Hoen Lithograph building

The Hoen Lithograph factory in East Baltimore could become apartments, offices and a cafe

The real estate firm founded by developer C. William "Bill" Struever said Tuesday it is part of a joint venture planning to turn a former print factory in East Baltimore into housing for nurses, office space and café.

Struever's Cross Street Partners and City Life Builders expect to spend about $17 million on the former A. Hoen & Co. complex, said Julia Day, Baltimore Housing deputy commissioner for land resources.

The 85,000-square-foot property, where the famous Baltimore lithography firm A. Hoen & Co. printed some of the first National Geographic maps, has been vacant since the business shut down in 1981. The company, founded in 1835, was so old it printed Confederate money during the Civil War at another facility in Richmond, Va.

The Cross Street Partners proposal envisions about 50 apartments, with special light and noise block-out features for nurses, Day said. The restoration plans also include a production kitchen, potentially tied to the culinary center, Baltimore Food Hub, which is in the works nearby.

The project was one of six for which the city named developers late last month, after a marketing effort aimed at attracting potential buyers for notable buildings owned by the city. Bids for the 18 surplus sites were due in September.

Baltimore Housing received 17 responses, several of them for the same site, Day said. Seven properties received no responses. In four cases, the city decided the bidders did not meet the requirements.

Negotiations over the final sales prices for the six awarded projects have just started. Several of the other awards were also for properties in East Baltimore, including the 1500 block of East Broadway street and an Oliver firehouse, a sign of increased interest in the area.

"To have that much investment north of the [railroad] tracks I find very encouraging," said Day of the Hoen Lithograph plans. "It's a really solid team that hasn't come together quite in this form before, but all bring really good track records that give me a lot of optimism for [the project's] success."

Struever, who started in Baltimore renovating Baltimore rowhouses more than 35 years ago, built a name transforming old industrial buildings into mixed-use commercial or residential projects and often spurring broader revitalization. The projects included Tindeco Wharf, Clipper Mill and the Tide Point complex in Locust Point, today the Under Armour headquarters.

His previous firm, Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, collapsed in the economic recession amid loan defaults and contractor lawsuits. Cross Street Partners launched in 2010, taking its name from the Federal Hill market where Struever started a cheese shop and sold 10-cent cannoli in an effort to make the neighborhood more enticing for homebuyers.

City Life Builders has been doing rowhome rehabs in the city since the 1980s and is involved in projects in the footprint of East Baltimore Development Inc., near the Johns Hopkins medical campus.

In East Baltimore, Struever is also involved with the Baltimore Food Hub, while Cross Street Partners worked on the conversion of the American Brewery building, now occupied by the nonprofit Humanim.

"We look forward to continuing the recent momentum in the area by restoring the beauty and usefulness of a 19th century industrial landmark so that it can serve as a symbol of hope and inspiration for the community," said John Renner, Cross Street Partners development director, in a statement.

The team hopes to start construction late this year, opening the project in 2017. Baltimore architecture firm Ziger Snead is working on the design.

This story has been updated to reflect where Hoen printed Confederate money.

nsherman@baltsun.com

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