The facade of the Mayfair Theatre on Howard Street. The theater is set to be redeveloped by local design and construction firm Zahlco.
The facade of the Mayfair Theatre on Howard Street. The theater is set to be redeveloped by local design and construction firm Zahlco. (Chris Kaltenbach / Baltimore Sun)

The Baltimore Development Corp. has selected a local design and construction firm to redevelop the historic Mayfair Theatre and an adjacent lot, according to Board of Estimates documents.

Zahlco is set to purchase the city-owned properties at 300-304 W. Franklin St. and 506 N. Howard St. for $400,000 — barely more than half the properties’ market value, according to the Board of Estimates. The board will be asked to approve the project at its meeting Wednesday.

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If the sale is approved, Zahlco, which owns a number of apartment buildings in Baltimore, would rehabilitate and expand the Mayfair Theatre and construct a 50- to 75-unit apartment complex and new retail building on the site, said Jay Weingarden, Zahlco’s vice president of property management.

The historic theater dates to the 1870s and has fallen into disrepair through the decades. The building caught fire in 2014, and most of the structure was demolished in 2016. A request for proposals to redevelop the site in late 2016 did not draw any offers.

The BDC issued its latest request for proposals for the properties in February, and Zahlco’s bid was one of two the agency received.

No proposals submitted for Mayfair Theatre site, but officials still hopeful for redevelopment

The group responsible for finding someone to re-develop the Mayfair theater site isn’t giving up on the project, despite receiving no proposals yet.

The firm’s original proposal called for renovating the historic theater to create office space, a restaurant, gallery space, and an outdoor seating and performance area, as well as constructing new apartments and retail buildings, according to BDC meeting minutes.

“It is going to be a hub for nightlife in a way that that area doesn’t really have,” Weingarden said.

A second bid from development firm SAA/EVI proposed rehabilitating the theater and constructing an outdoor concert venue, a new building to house incubator and rehearsal space, and a new apartment complex at the corner of Franklin and Howard streets.

Former Station North artists building Bell Foundry sold to Baltimore apartment developers

The Bell Foundry building in Station North that once houses dozens of artists and performers before it was condemned last year was sold to a developer that has been upgrading old urban buildings into boutique apartments.

In justifying selling the Mayfair property for nearly half its $700,000 value, the Board of Estimates said the project would restore a city landmark, eliminate blight, and bring new residents and businesses.

The site sits near the Congress Hotel apartments at 306 W. Franklin St., another Zahlco property. Similar to the neighboring building, the apartments at the Mayfair Theatre site will include studio, one- and two-bedroom units. Weingarden said he expects housing prices to be similar to the Congress Hotel’s rent rates, ranging from about $1,100 to $1,300.

“We’ve had success in that area already and we don’t feel that expounding on that success would be too difficult,” Weingarden said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Chris Kaltenbach contributed to this article.

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