A towering, white, modular-looking apartment complex could be the newest addition to the Harbor East waterfront, filling a Central Avenue parking lot with nearly 350 residences and a block of shopping.
The roughly $100 million proposal by H&S Properties Development Corp. and The Bozzuto Group calls for 291 apartments, 49 condominiums and roughly 60,000 square feet of retail on the block bordered by Central Avenue and Aliceanna, Lancaster and Eden streets. The building also would contain an interior parking garage, a pool and other amenities.
The parking lot, the former home of Baltimore Contractors Inc., sits on the edge of ritzy Harbor East. Its development would push that high-density neighborhood toward Fells Point, plugging a gap between Ouzo Bay restaurant and the Eden apartment building.
Preliminary designs by Washington-based Hickok Cole Architects show a complex that would top out at about 280 feet, slightly shorter than the Legg Mason tower a few blocks west, said Bozzuto Group President Toby Bozzuto.
The building’s sectional design will allow light and air into the apartments and preempt the feel of a “hulking mass,” with the steps evoking the shape of a sail, he said.
“It is really something different,” said City Councilman James B. Kraft, who represents the area. “I think what they’re doing here is that they are showing folks that you can do something new and exciting here in Baltimore.”
Kraft said he likes the designs, but is concerned about how the building could affect traffic. Kraft said he wants work on the many development projects in the area — such as Harbor Point — to be coordinated, in hopes of giving the neighborhood a breather from the disruption of construction work.
“There’s a lot more being planned and there’s a lot more being discussed,” he said, declining to elaborate. “We just have to find a way to move people around.”
Baker-cum-developer John Paterakis Sr. said last year that H&S Bakery would move its nearby distribution center by the end of 2014, clearing the way for more development in the area. The city’s spending panel in April agreed to give H&S $200,000 to relocate to the city’s Pulaski Industrial Area.
Paterakis, whose H&S Properties Development Corp. was the force behind earlier Harbor East development, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Bozzuto said he could not speak to plans for other H&S properties in the area.
The firms hope to start work on the apartment development within a year, pending neighborhood feedback and city approvals, he said. The project is expected to take about two years to complete, he said.
In outlining plans last year, Paterakis said Whole Foods had agreed to move from its current Fleet Street location to a bigger spot in the new building. Bozzuto declined to discuss potential tenants, saying only that the firm hopes to attract “significant retail.”
The Bozzutos have worked with the Paterakis family since the opening of the Promenade apartments in the 1990s. The firms also collaborated on the Spinnaker Bay apartment and condo complex.
Bozzuto said he sees this building as part of creating a legacy in the city.
“I was born and currently live in Baltimore, as does my father, as do the H&S folks,” he said. “It’s important to all of us to create something that is special, that is extraordinary, and in my mind something that is architecturally significant, that is meaningful to the city.”
Bozzuto said he believes there is strong market for rental units in the area, pointing to demand for the thousands of rental properties Bozzuto manages on the East Coast.
In Baltimore, the company quickly leased its Union Wharf and Fitzgerald apartment developments. The company also is working on an $80 million mixed-use apartment project in Locust Point.
“Baltimore continues to improve upon itself every day,” Bozzuto said. “Excellent design and excellent amenities — it sort of raises the bar and I believe there’s an audience of people that are hungry for this type of experience, this type of environment.”