H&S Bakery's plan to expand a warehouse it owns in Fells Point received approval from the city's historic commission on Tuesday.
The $10 million project at 623 S. Caroline St. would allow the company to modernize and streamline the facility, which handles packaging, shipping and distribution of goods from its Fells Point bakery.
H&S relocated part of its distribution operation to the Hollander Ridge business park last year after receiving $200,000 in city assistance. The move cleared the way for further development of Harbor East, which the H&S owners have bankrolled.
But George Philippou, the firm's general counsel, said the company wants to stay in Fells Point, where it employs about 300 to 350 people and churns out thousands of loaves and rolls a day.
"One of the most important things that our principals tell us is that they're bakers first," Philippou said. "It's very important that they continue to invest in the bakery and make sure it continues to be viable and a successful enterprise, so that's their first priority, and this will allow them to continue to do that."
H&S, which employs about 1,500 people in the region, operates five bakeries in the Baltimore area, according to its website. At its Highlandtown bakery, it produces 200 loaves of bread a minute and 5,000 dozen rolls an hour, Philippou said.
The new construction on what is now a parking lot would expand the existing warehouse across Dallas Street to create a roughly 62,000-square-foot facility on a large block, bounded by Aliceanna, Bond, Fleet and Caroline streets. A historic building on the site will remain, mothballed, after the Commission for Historical & Architectural Preservation rejected a demolition request in August.
The commission also agreed Tuesday to the demolition of the historic Franklin-Delphey Hotel in West Baltimore. The 300 W. Franklin St. property, long vacant and deteriorating, became a city landmark just four years ago but was badly damaged last year in a fire. The city has owned the property since 1989.
The commission and Planning Department staff were not aware of the structural issues when the landmark status was granted, but the building is now beyond repair, said city planner Lauren Schiszik.
Eli Pousson of Baltimore Heritage said the group recognized the safety and structural issues in the building and did not oppose the demolition. But he called for the city to review its other landmarks and begin to take measures to prevent them from similar fates.
"It's important that we all acknowledge that this is a case where demolition by neglect has taken place and that over 20 years of city ownership this building has been allowed, despite repeated warnings, to collapse," he said. "While it's a tragedy to lose any of our landmark buildings, isn't it so much more of a tragedy to lose these buildings that are … in the public trust."
The Baltimore Development Corp., which was seeking approval of the demolition for safety reasons, has started to set aside money to maintain some of its historic properties and intends to avoid demolition of another historic structure, the Mayfair Theatre, also damaged in the fire, said Kimberly A. Clark, BDC executive vice president. But Clark said the agency could not dispute Pousson's description of events.
"We agree," she said.