Seawall Development Corp.'s proposed conversion of a three-block stretch of Remington Avenue into a $43 million project called Remington Row is taking shape, with new plans to bring in a boutique grocery store and to buy the current site of a 7-Eleven convenience store at 211 W. 28th St.
Seawall partner Evan Morville made the announcements at a meeting Saturday, Nov. 16, to update area residents on the string of projects that are planned in the 2700-2900 block of Remington Avenue.
Morville said Seawall is in negotiations to add a 10,000-square-foot grocer to the mix of apartments, nonprofit office space, retail and parking. He would not name the grocery store.
"We are talking to a grocery store," Morville said. He said he hoped to bring a representative of the grocer to the next public meeting Seawall hosts.
Morville also said Seawall has not decided what to do yet with the 7-Eleven site.
The announcement of plans to buy the 7-Eleven site was greeted enthusiastically by most in the audience of 40 people at Miller's Court, a Seawall apartment complex for teachers. Some residents say the 7-Eleven site is an eyesore and should be turned into green space.
Morville said Seawall's decision to buy the site was based on people urging the developer to do something about that site.
"There isn't a person who has come up to me and said, 'I love the 7-Eleven. Let's keep it," Morville said to laughter from the audience.
Morville also said Seawall will seek Baltimore City Council approval of Remington Row as a planned unit development, or PUD, ensuring public hearings on the project, although he said Seawall can do most of it by right under current B-3-2 zoning. Morville had said at an earlier meeting in July that Seawall would not seek a PUD.
Some lower income residents at the meeting said they are worried that the project, with apartment rents from $1,100 to $1,800, could gentrify the area to the point where people of limited means are priced out of the area.
"Where do we go?" asked renter Andrew Mattingly, who lives at the corner of Lorraine Street and Huntingdon Avenue and works for a drapery company.
"I'm a renter. I'm worried about these things, too," said Damien Nichols, of Remington.
"We're charging the lowest rents we can charge," Morville said.
Also concerned was Dale McClinton, of the 2800 block of Remington Avenue, who envisioned being surrounded by development and wondered if Seawall could erect fencing in the area.
"I'm feeling like I'm in the middle of all this chaos," McClinton said. "I'm happy for you all, but I'm feeling a little anxious."
"Let's figure out how we can make it less anxious for you," said Morville, who has made a point of involving the community in helping plan the project.
Morville said Seawall hopes to start construction on the project in June 2014.
The ambitious project does not include an 11-acre site at Howard and 25th streets, where developer Rick Walker is planning 25th Street Station, a shopping center on the Anderson Honda property.
Seawall is already well known for redeveloping the old Union Mill in Hampden and the former U.S. Census building in Remington, now called Miller's Court, as affordable housing for new teachers and nonprofit offices.
Seawall is also rehabbing numerous row houses in the area so that its teacher tenants can buy them eventually as first-time home owners.
And, Seawall is redeveloping a former tire shop on Howard Street as the future home of Single Carrot Theatre, Young Audiences of Maryland and a restaurant/butcher shop. The latter is restaurateur Spike Gjerde's newest venture, a spinoff from his acclaimed Woodberry Kitchen.