New Inner Harbor skyscraper gets design ok

A new Inner Harbor tower that would be among the tallest in Baltimore received design approval Thursday, with one member of the city’s architecture panel describing the project as an “elegant, sophisticated building that’s exciting for Baltimore.”

Plans call for a roughly 500-foot-tall blue glass tower located at the corner of Light and Conway streets downtown. The $140 million building would rise 44 stories, with 392 luxury apartments, 12,500-square-feet of ground floor shopping and a 477-space parking garage open to the public.

Amenities for residents are to include a 7th-floor dog park and a 35th-floor library.

Chicago-based architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz stripped the building of exterior patterns proposed previously, creating a “much stronger building than what we saw last time,” said Richard Burns, a member of the Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel, which approved the plan with comments.

Stephen Gorn, CEO of developer Questar Properties, said he hopes to begin contruction early next year.

The 1.9-acre site, which Questar bought at auction for $11.5 million in 2011, has been used as a parking lot since the McCormick & Co. building was demolished in the late 1980s. As proposed, the new tower would be among the tallest in the city. The tallest, at 529 feet, is the nearby Transamerica building at 100 Light St.

“I think it’s a really elegant, sophisticated building that’s exciting for Baltimore,” panelist Judith Meany said.

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