More development on the way in Brewers Hill

The number of apartments in Southeast Baltimore's Brewers Hill could nearly double to more than 1,500, under a plan that received approval Thursday from the Planning Commission.

Obrecht Commercial Real Estate Inc., the developer behind the Gunther Apartments and Natty Boh sign, is seeking permission to build more intensively on the roughly 35 acres it owns north of Canton Crossing, up to a maximum of about 2.65 million square feet, including 1,515 residential units.


The request comes as Obrecht hopes to start construction next summer of a new apartment building, with 370 to 390 units, said developer Wells Obrecht.

Obrecht Commercial Real Estate has been working on the redevelopment of the two adjacent former brewery complexes for about 15 years.

The firm and its partners already have built or converted 1.5 million square feet, including about 780 apartments, on the site, which is roughly bordered by Boston, Haven, Conkling and Dillon streets. In addition to the Gunther and Hanover Brewers Hill apartments, the site includes the National East and Natty Boh office buildings.

The proposed zoning, which now returns to the City Council for a vote, would allow the firm to develop an extra 668,000 square feet, including about 390 more residential units, on top of what had been allowed under the planned urban development rules established in 2006.

The new legislation also adds a 0.4-acre parcel at 3900 Dillon St. to the PUD.

The Planning Commission voted Thursday in favor of the request with conditions, including agreeing to rules that woud cap office and retail development on the site at about 842,000 square feet. The goal is to mitigate potential traffic, planning officials said.

Brewers Hill, formerly an industrial area, has been transformed in the last decade with new projects, including Obrecht's, Canton Crossing and others.

Canton Community Association President Sean Flanagan said his group supports the project but is concerned about the effect it will have on already congested roadways. His group wants to see Eaton Street extended through the developer's property, connecting south to Boston Street, before the apartment project opens.


City Councilman James B. Kraft, who represents the area and sponsored the legislation, said discussions among the city, Obrecht and Exxon, which also owns a parcel involved, over the money and infrastructure involved in the street extension have been occuring for years without progress.

He said he is not optimistic that the street will be extended before the apartments open.