The Bagby Furniture Co. building near Little Italy, a downtown landmark since 1902, will soon become Baltimore's newest upscale apartment complex, a $5 million project tentatively called One Thousand Fleet Loft Apartments.
Baltimore's Planning Commission approved a pending City Council bill this week that would rezone the property at 509-521 Exeter St. to allow it to house 56 apartments and 117 parking spaces. The full council must still vote on the zoning change.
The developer is Henrietta Corp., a group that includes Patrick Turner, William Boucher and Neil Ruther. Steven Ward Brown would be the architect, and Eileen Brown and Associates would be responsible for interior design.
Mr. Turner said his group has a contract to buy the four-story building from the Bagby family and hopes to begin conversion by July. When work is completed in the fall of 1994, he said, the building would contain seven efficiencies, 16 one-bedroom apart
ments and 33 two-bedroom apartments. Monthly rents will range from $600 to $1,200.
"We like good in-city projects, and this is one of the hottest growth areas in Baltimore, between the Inner Harbor and Fells Point," he said.
"There's very little market for multi-story warehouses in the city. This is a great solution for the building," said Glenn Charlow, a sales agent for Manekin Corp., the real estate firm handling the sale. "The neighborhood supports it. I think it'll be a huge success."
Besides high ceilings, tall windows and large open spaces, each apartment will have a microwave oven, dishwasher, washer and dryer and other amenities.
Mr. Turner said he believes one of the biggest selling points would be the location, which is close to the restaurants of Little Italy and within easy walking distance of downtown.
He also pointed out that Little Italy is perceived to be one of the safest areas of the city after dark and that 60 to 70 percent of the residences will have waterfront views.
City planner Laurie Feinberg said the project is consistent with the Schmoke administration's plan to create "a strong waterfront residential community" in the Inner Harbor East and Little Italy areas.
In addition, the conversion "helps to maintain the historic fabric of the area," she said.
Bagby closed its furniture store on Sept. 30, 1990, ending more than 110 years of operation as a furniture maker, wholesaler and most recently a retailer. The closing was part of a trend in which several longtime furniture retailers went out of business.
Initial portions of the building were completed in 1902, and it was expanded around 1907. It stands across Fleet Street from a 20-acre parcel where the Gilbane Building Co. and Baltimore businessman John Paterakis are building a $350 million community.