Gym, two hotels, a grocery and 200 residences planned for PEMCO site

The developer of a former industrial site near Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in East Baltimore is updating its master plan as it works to tie down tenants for the estimated $100 million project.

MCB Real Estate has signed a deal to locate a roughly 34,000-square-foot LA Fitness on the eastern side of the property. The firm also expects two hotels and nearly 200 residential units on the site. It's talking to possible grocery tenants.

The roughly 20-acre site was formerly home to Pemco Corp., where glass and porcelain were manufactured for decades. MCB's current plans call for about 500,000 square feet of development, including 150,000 square feet of retail, as well as 875 parking spaces in lots and a garage.

The goal is to start demolition and environment clean-up by the end of the year, said Al Barry of AB Associates, which is working with MCB. LA Fitness, which would be part of the first phase focused on the eastern side of the site, wants to open by the end of 2018 or early 2019.

While developer wants to create an urban feel, with store entrances facing a main street, instead of a parking lot, tenant demands for access to parking may push the project in the direction of a strip mall, members of the city's Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel said Thursday.

"A strip mall with parallel parking is a strip mall with parallel parking," said panelist Pvlina Ilieva.

Barry said the project, located in a transitional zone in east Baltimore, has long faced tension between urban and suburban design elements.

"The panel's comments ... recognize that tension," he said. "We'll look at that ... to try and balance it out."

nsherman@baltsun.com

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