Rotunda tenants can't park on nearby streets, redeveloper says

On-street parking would not be an option for future tenants of town house-style apartments in a redeveloped Rotunda mall if the developer and residents of Hampden row houses across the street have their way.

Representatives of Hekemian & Co., which is redeveloping the mall with housing, restaurants and additional retail, have agreed to several measures designed to discourage future tenants from parking on residential streets near the mall, especially Elm Avenue and 38th Street.

Local residents are concerned that Rotunda tenants might try to park on-street, rather than use planned garage parking on the redeveloped Rotunda site.

At a meeting with local residents Nov. 13, Hekemian agreed to include the cost of one parking space per unit in the rents of 16 apartments that are planned on the perimeter of what is now the south parking lot of the Rotunda, to induce its tenants to park in those spaces.

The parking spaces would be located in a 125-space private parking garage that Hekemian plans to build on the site as part of the $100 million redevelopment project.

"If (tenants) want an extra space, they will have to pay for it," said Al Barry, a local land use consultant to New Jersey-based Hekemian.

Hekemian has also signaled its support for a new Residential Permit Parking area that local residents want the city's Parking Authority to create on their behalf.

The side of Elm in the 3800 block across the street from the mall is protected because it is part of Baltimore Residential Permit Parking Area 25, which prohibits parking for more than several hours at a time without a parking permit. But the other side of the street, closest to the Rotunda, is unprotected. Elm residents would have to petition the city to expand Area 25 or create a new RPP area.

Hekemian's agreement to include on-site parking in Rotunda rents assumes that the city will agree to create a new Residential Permit Parking area for the local residents, or expand a nearby RPP area to include those residents, Barry said.

"We're anticipating the residents will Residential Permit Parking, but we have no control over that," Barry said. But he added, "We would support that future (Rotunda) tenants would not be eligible for Residential Permit Parking passes."

Also at the meeting, Hekemian agreed to consider scaling down the heights of the apartment buildings along Elm and 38th, or adding green space at the intersection, according to minutes taken by City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke's office and emailed to the Baltimore Messenger by Barry. Some residents said the buildings as planned, averaging 44 feet high, were out of scale with nearby row houses, which average 24 feet tall, and that the buildings don't have enough setback.

Residents at the meeting also requested beefed-up security in Rotunda lots, the repair of lights in rear lots for safety, reinstitution of a disconnected Rotunda security phone line, and a promise that Rotunda trash would be picked up no earlier than 7 a.m., so as not to disturb area residents, according to the minutes.

Hekemian anticipates starting redevelopment construction in May 2013.

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