Work on Recreation Pier hotel could begin next month

Recreation Pier's transformation into a hotel coming soon.

Sagamore Development Co. LLC, which is planning to turn Fells Point's historic Recreation Pier into a 128-room hotel, hopes to start work on the project next month, the project manager said Tuesday.

Sagamore, a development firm controlled by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and Chevy Chase developer Marc Weller, received approval Tuesday from the city's historic commission to start removing panels from the roof of the pier structure. The approval is a key step to allow the team to start some demolition and begin driving new piles into the water to support a new pier structure.

The main brick building, which fronts Thames Street, is be restored and converted into a hotel lobby, with a restaurant, bar and ballroom inside. 

But the current pier, where the hotel rooms would go, is rotting, architect Todd Harvey of BHC Architects LLP said at a meeting of the city’s commission for historical and architectural preservation.

Sagamore plans to rebuild the structure, adding large windows and recreating the original dark wood siding with contemporary materials. The team has not yet decided what material to use for the side of the pier, Harvey said. The firm also plans to add a smaller, more modern third floor of hotels to the pier.

Sagamore hopes to start demolition next month and finish the project at the end of 2016, project manager Shawn Batterton said. Officials have said previously they expect the project to cost about $60 million.

“Our vision for the project is to really keep the historic essence of it and delveop a world class hotel that is grounded in the historic character and charm of this building and the Fells Point neighborhood,” Batterton said. “We’re trying to bring back the full glory of this building.”

Built in 1914, the brick building originally stored port cargo. It was used as a community center and television studio for “Homicide: Life on the Street.” It closed after the show went off the air in 1999.

The developer is planning to widen the sidewalk in front of the building and add landscaping for the public.The radio antennae, which date to 1949, would be removed.

The hotel will offer all valet parking. Those arrangements are still in the works, Batterton said.

CHAP Chair Tom Liebel praised the project and said he wants to start discussions about declaring it a city landmark.

“We don’t want to impede the process for redevelopment but in the end we want to make sure that this property is properly celebrated as one of Baltimore’s true icons,” he said.

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