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Two plans considered for Parkway Theatre

The Baltimore Development Corp.'s board considered two proposals for the restoration of the historic Parkway Theatre at their monthly meeting Thursday morning.

The BDC, the city's economic development arm, received three proposals to redevelop the theater at 3 W. North Ave., and adjacent buildings at 1 W. North Ave. and 1820 N. Charles St., in response the agency's request in December for ideas to restore the long-vacant venue to a working cultural space.

It was the second time that the BDC has requested proposals for the theater. Neither of the proposals received in response to their first request, in 2009, panned out.

The ideas that remain in play are from developer Samuel Polakoff's Property Consulting Inc. and the Maryland Film Festival. The film festival is coordinating its plans with Johns Hopkins University and the Maryland Institute College of Art, according to Phil Croskey, the BDC's director of economic development for Baltimore's west side.

According to Croskey, Property Consulting is proposing a $12.2 million, mixed-use project. The 26,000-square-foot development would hold a performing arts stage that will focus on offering live music, a bar and a studio for live radio broadcasting.

Under the plan, the Parkway would be renovated, 1 W. North Ave. — the red brick building on the southwest corner of West North Avenue and North Charles Street — would be demolished and replaced with new construction and the facade of 1820 N. Charles St. would be retained.

A lobby for the theater would be built on the lower floors of the Parkway's two adjacent buildings, which would be combined into one structure. The upper floors would be used for offices and administration.

The Maryland Film Festival is suggesting a $16.8 million renovation of the theater. The buildings would be used as a year-round three-screen cinema, live music venue and education center.

In addition to renovating the Parkway, the corner building would gain a glass facade at the ground level and a wrap-around marquee would light the sidewalk.

The upper floors of 1 W. North St. and 1820 N. Charles St., which would have its facade restored, would be used for screening rooms. A restaurant and bar would be installed in the Charles Street structure.

Last week, the Baltimore Planning Commission recommended that the theater's exterior be designated as a landmark. The City Council, which has the final say on granting landmark status, has not yet started to consider legislation to protect the building.

The Louis XIV-style theater was designed by Oliver B. Wight and was built in the 1910s.

The BDC board's discussion of the two proposals was closed to the public, but Croskey gave a presentation about the proposals in the open portion of the meeting.

Croskey's presentation is attached to this post, on the left, under the "Related" header.

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