The two-decade evolution of the Inner Harbor’s east side from rough industrial to ritzy waterfront will continue this summer with the opening of another high-end residential building called Liberty Harbor East.
The 22-story building joins a flurry of other housing projects to open downtown and in waterfront neighborhoods, many pitching unrivaled luxury with designer pools, top-of-the-line appliances and even doggie parks — and prices to match.
Developers from The Bozzuto Group and Harbor East Management Group, affiliated with the family of the former bakery magnate John Paterakis, are also pitching the community around Liberty as part of the package.
“One of the biggest selling points here is the neighborhood itself,” said Tim O’Donald, president of Harbor East Management Group. “Once you walk outside your door you have a Whole Foods in the building and top-tier retail nearby, as well as some of the finest restaurants.”
The 282 apartments and 33 for-sale condos, which will face Lancaster and Aliceanna streets, are expected to begin pre-leasing in coming weeks. In the fall, the upscale grocer Whole Foods Market will open a first-floor market twice the size of the one it’s replacing nearby.
The Liberty broke ground in 2016 with a $170 million price tag. Rents and sales prices aren’t set yet, but are likely to meet or exceed those in other upscale towers, including the 414 Light St. building across the harbor, Anthem House in Locust Point and One Light Street downtown.
It’s unclear whether Liberty will face much difficulty leasing, though a 2017 Downtown Partnership report found room for 7,000 more apartments at all price points over five years, with an average of 418 units a year renting for $2,000 or more to empty nesters and younger professionals.
That development threshold hasn’t been met, but asking rents are considerably higher in many cases and partnership officials have said developers have offered concessions to lure tenants.
Still, Toby Bozzuto, Bozzuto’s CEO, who partnered with Harbor East Management on other nearby residential buildings, including Spinnaker Bay, said the group carefully weighs projects. For example, there will be far fewer condos, which have had limited appeal in Baltimore and sell relatively slowly in the best of times.
Beyond that, Bozzuto said, the partners are optimists.
“I believe very strongly that Baltimore has positive momentum,” Bozzuto said. “To the degree it doesn’t, I’ll do my darnedest to help it. Harbor East was built on a parking lot. Anthem House was a parking lot vacant for 20 or 30 years that was polluted by the previous occupant.”
Once the Liberty opens, Harbor East will have one more major parcel left to develop, though O’Donald said the firm has no plans.