After years of legal battles delayed the project, Whalen Properties started preliminary work on a four-story commercial building in Catonsville, dubbed 350 Kenwood, earlier this month.
The developer is clearing and grading the 2.5-acre plot of land at 350 Kenwood Ave. on the east side of northbound Interstate 695, and is expected to take three months to finish, said Steve Whalen, president of the development company.
The office space is “really the first phase of our larger Promenade project,” he said.
The $25 million office building, located off Kenwood Avenue between University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Frederick Road, was approved with the requirement that Whalen Properties make an estimated $2.57 million worth of improvements to widen the northbound side of Kenwood Avenue to add an extra lane, and install a traffic signal at the Wilkens Avenue interchange, Whalen said.
The improvements also include a sidewalk from Wilkens Avenue to Kenwood Gardens Condominiums, an additional lane to the northbound beltway on-ramp, and widening of Wilkens Avenue to allow two lefthand turn lanes from Wilkens Avenue onto northbound Kenwood Avenue, Whalen wrote in an email.
The 90,537-square-foot building is scheduled for completion in 2021, but won’t start construction until Whalen secures an anchor tenant.
The concept, approved by Baltimore County planners in 2011 as the Southwest Physicians Pavilion in Catonsville, originally sought to build a medical center before a lengthy appeals process initiated by the Kenwood Gardens Condominium Association cost Whalen Properties its anchor tenant, which would have set up a medical facility there, Whalen said.
The condo association filed a lawsuit against Whalen Properties in 2013, objecting to the parcel’s rezoning as a planned unit development and to the potential traffic and construction noise it would produce. The association lost the case and subsequent appeals.
Whalen has yet to find another anchor tenant, but said the building could be used for medical or administrative purposes, and that the space has garnered interest from an engineering firm and a medical office. The parcel, rezoned as a planned unit development from office use in 2012, allows for office and office-related ancillary uses.
Across I-695 from 350 Kenwood, Whalen is planning the 1.3 million-square-foot Promenade development on 14.75 acres of land along 310 Promenade Drive, according to planning documents.
That parcel, situated near West Kenwood Avenue, was rezoned to business major during the last Comprehensive Zoning Map update in 2016, paving the way for intensive mixed-use development.
Initially approved by county planners in 2014, the Promenade site will include retail and hotel space and “a significant restaurant and entertainment component,” Whalen said.
According to planning documents, Whalen got the green light in June 2018 to add an “entertainment zone, boutique hotel” and a third hotel to the Promenade project.
That longer-term project won’t commence until a joint venture partner signs on to help fund the development, Whalen said.
Whalen Properties submitted a zoning change request for the 2020 Comprehensive Zoning Map process to change residential zoning regulations to business major on 16 adjacent parcels the company owns to develop luxury apartment or condominiums around the planned Promenade development, Whalen said.