A parking lot at Charles and Eager streets in midtown Baltimore is being considered for redevelopment as a $3 million retail and office complex.

Baltimore's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation approved preliminary designs this week for the project, known as 1000 North Charles. If completed by late 2012 as planned, it would be the first time in more than 50 years that the prominent site has been anything but a parking lot.

Plans by SMG Architects of Baltimore call for the building to rise three stories along Charles Street and two stories along Eager Street, with about 28,000 total square feet of space and an eco-friendly "green roof."

Architect Walter Schamu of SMG told preservation panel members that Gould Properties of Washington has a long-term lease on the property and aims to begin construction this fall. He said that no tenants were lined up yet, but that the developer believes the site has strong potential to attract a café or other retail tenants at street level, with offices above.

The parcel was once the site of a brownstone that contained a women's social organization called the Arundell Club. The club moved out in 1946 and the building was later torn down.

Community representatives told the preservation panel that they supported Gould's project because it would fill a gap in the streetscape and was in scale with neighboring properties. Several also encouraged the developer to explore ways to provide underground parking.

"This is one of the most positive developments for Mount Vernon in decades and proves that pedestrian-scale projects, which we have long sought, are financially feasible," said Steve Shen, chairman of the architectural review committee of the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association.

ed.gunts@baltsun.com

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