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The Real Estate Wonk
Baltimore's residential real estate and commercial development news
City presses for State Center approval

The Baltimore Development Corp. reaffirmed support Thursday for the State Center project, planned since 2005 but cast off track by lawsuits and shaky political backing.

The BDC board voted unanimously to ratify an agreement the board approved in 2010, which set tax payment at $2.50 per square foot for 515,000-square feet of state offices. The state-owned land is currently exempt from taxes, but if the project were to move forward, development firm Ekistics LLC would have a ground lease for the parcels, making them subject to taxation. 

The agreement, which must be approved by the city's Board of Estimates to go into effect, would bring in $1.7 million in new tax revenue for the city, said BDC staffer Dan Taylor. 

“We concluded it was a classic [payment in lieu of taxes] that was very, very good for the city,” said Deborah Hunt Devan, who heads the BDC’s project committee. “Nothing has really changed. The climate is different, the costs are different but what the city gets back from it...

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Apartments planned for Della Notte site

A Baltimore development firm is proposing to build a 16-story apartment tower on the site of the former Della Notte restaurant in Little Italy

Doug Schmidt, principal at Workshop Development Inc., said the firm is looking at building a tower with roughly 240 apartments and about 7,000-square feet of retail on the ground floor. The firm, with architect Hord Coplan Macht, is slated to present designs to the city next week for the project, located at 801 Eastern Ave.

“We still have a lot of details that we're finishing up,” said Schmidt, adding that final height and number of residences remain subject to discussion.

The project would have at least one parking spot per residence inside the building, he said.

Little Italy Community Association President Giovanna Blattermann, whose family owns nearby Cafe Gia, said pedestrians en route from the Inner Harbor to Harbor East too often bypass Little Italy, turned off in part by the barren block of President Street.

“It's screaming to be...

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Preserve at Owings Crossing sells for $77.25 million

A Pennsylvania-based firm and its multinational joint venture partner paid $77.25 million in December for the Preserve at Owings Crossing, a nearly 800-unit apartment complex in Reisterstown, expanding their already sizable Maryland holdings.

The two firms, Morgan Properties and The Olayan Group, founded in Saudia Arabia in 1947, intend to perform renovations to reposition the Preserve complex, where the first buildings opened in 1965, they said in a news release. The companies last year also purchased a 2,671-apartment portfolio in the mid-Atlantic from Berkshire Property Advisors for $309 million.

Morgan Properties owns and manages 117 apartment communities in ten states throughout the country. The firm owns more than 11,000 apartments in Maryland including the 692-unit Chartleytowne Apartments, also in Reisterstown.

“Given our local market knowledge and operational expertise, Morgan Properties is the right operator to efficiently manage and enhance the value of the asset,” Morgan...

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City seeks ideas for Cross Street Market redevelopment

The city on Tuesday formally started the process of turning Cross Street Market over to private management, releasing guidelines for what it wants from interested developers.

City officials said last month they would seek bids for management of the Federal Hill market, in an effort to add vendors and tap private capital to overhaul the building.

The decision came after inquiries about the market from firms that included Caves Valley Partners and War Horse LLC, the development firm of Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank's brother, Scott Plank. 

“What we’re looking to do is enliven the market and exploit its potential to be a destination place for the neighborhood, for the communities it serves,” said Robert Thomas, executive director of Baltimore Public Markets Corp., the nonprofit that currently oversees the city’s six public markets. 

The request for proposals, posted Tuesday, envisions a lease that lasts up to 30 years, with the developer paying at least $275,000 to the city in the first...

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Anne Arundel law firm moves to city

A small law firm based in Anne Arundel County moved to Baltimore City last month  -- one of a handful of companies relocating to be closer to the urban center.

Miller & Zois, LLC, founded in 2003, signed the 7,368-square-foot lease at 1 South Street, known as the Alex Brown building, in July, said Terri Harrington, a senior vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle, who represented the tenant. The personal injury firm, which has 12 to 15 employees, was previously based in Empire Towers.

“Our goal has always been to be available to clients all over Maryland,” Ronald V. Miller, Jr., co-founder and partner at Miller & Zois, said in a statement. “This move reflects our desire to be at the true center of Maryland in order to best serve our clients.”

Office vacancy rates in the downtown business district have remained elevated since the recession, closing the year around 19 percent, according to a fourth quarter market report by JLL. Older buildings, farther from the water and Pratt Street, have...

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City reviews Harbor Point park

Designs for a public plaza in Harbor Point came in for questions Thursday, with members of the city's design panel asking developer Michael Beatty to return for another session before they sign off on the project.

Beatty Development Group is seeking approval to start its third building on the roughly 28-acre site between Harbor East and Fells Point. The first, the Thames Street Wharf offices that houses Morgan Stanley, sold for $89 million earlier this year. The second, a 20-story tower for energy giant Exelon Corp.'s regional headquarters is underway.

The third would be a 289-unit apartment building on Point Street, fashioned in burgundy and pumpkin pie brick with silver trim that rises to 17 stories at its tallest point.  Beatty, who declined to estimate the project cost, said he hopes to complete it around the same time as the new Exelon tower in 2016.

"We really take seriously the importance of this building, not only how it fits into Baltimore, but how it fits into the context of...

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