City seeks proposals for west-side development

The city Wednesday asked for proposals from developers for about a dozen city-owned parcels in a state-designated historic district on the west side, where many blocks have lain dormant for years.

The Baltimore Development Corp.'s two requests for proposals include four buildings in the middle of the 400 block of N. Howard St. and nine buildings and an open lot in an area roughly bounded by Park Avenue and Liberty, Clay and Marion streets.

Responses can target individual properties or describe plans for wholesale development of the clusters, a choice city officials said they have opened in response to private sector interest in smaller-scale projects, which can be easier to finance.

"Ten years ago everybody was thinking big," said Kimberly Clark, BDC executive vice president. "Instead of looking at it like, clear the whole thing and build one giant building, it's looking at it through different eyes."

Some of the properties have previously been awarded to private developers. City officials said they felt the market is now ready to support projects, pointing to changes wrought by the expansion of the University of Maryland, growth of the Bromo-Seltzer arts district and other private development.

The properties sit close to the Superblock site, a square-block bordered by Howard, Fayette, Lexington and Park Avenue, which has been tied up in litigation.

"We're not stopping moving forward on projects in the west side just because of the Superblock," said Kaliope Parthemos, the mayor's deputy chief of economic and neighborhood development.

The Baltimore Development Corp. also asked architects to prepare concepts to guide development of a square-block bounded by West Franklin, North Howard, West Mulberry and Park Avenue, with the hope of asking developers to bid later this year.

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