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Tower planned near campus Apartment building in business district would have 271 units; 'It's going to be dynamite'; Need seen for housing at market rate at UM and downtown


A Washington developer wants to build the first high-rise apartment building in Baltimore's central business district in more than a decade -- a 16-story, 271-unit tower near the $H University of Maryland's rapidly expanding Baltimore campus.

Quadrangle Development Corp. of Washington, builder of the Grand Hyatt Hotel at Washington Center, is seeking to acquire city-owned property at the northwest corner of Howard and Lombard streets for the project.

Estimated to cost $20 million or more, the building would be Quadrangle's first in Baltimore and reflects the growing strength of the city's apartment market, especially on the west side of downtown.

"We're very excited about this project because it addresses the need for additional market-rate housing in the University of Maryland precinct," said M. Jay Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp.

"It will put additional people on the street, which means more customers for retailers. It brings a new developer to town. It's on the light rail line. It's a tremendous boost for Howard Street."

Quadrangle's architects, Hord Coplan Macht LLC, presented preliminary plans yesterday to Baltimore's Architectural Review Board. They call for construction of a brick-clad building with a rounded corner on land now used as a parking lot.

Architect Ed Hord said the building would feature "spectacular views" in all directions, including a close-up view of the Bromo-Seltzer tower on the same block. From the upper levels, he said, "you can see to the stadium. You can see to the harbor. It's going to be dynamite."

As part of their project, the developers also proposed to &L; renovate the Johnston Bros. building, an 1886 loft structure with cast iron details at 26-30 S. Howard St. Besides apartments, the complex would contain parking for 117 cars and street-level retail space.

Brodie said he knew Quadrangle's executives from his days as head of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp. in Washington and as a partner of RTKL Associates, and that he encouraged them to investigate the Howard Street site.

The building's target markets, he explained, would be University of Maryland students and faculty, and young professionals who work downtown and want to live there as well.

A recent market study by Morton Hoffman and Co., a Baltimore economic consulting company, concluded that there is an unmet demand for 500 to 670 apartments in or near the university.

Brodie said he believes the downtown apartment market is ready for new housing, based on his discussions with owners and managers of area rental properties.

"Every existing housing building has a waiting list," he said. "They're actually losing people to the counties because they're full. So we're convinced there's a sizable audience out there. It's a question of finding appropriate sites and making the financing work."

Baltimore's newest apartment complex is the Promenade, a 113-unit development that opened this year in the Inner Harbor East renewal area and is more than two-thirds leased.

The last rental apartment tower constructed downtown was Shelter Development Corp.'s 252-unit Park Charles apartments, which opened in Charles Center in 1986.

Quadrangle is working with Mendel Friedman, longtime owner of the Johnston Bros. building.

After Quadrangle and Friedman submitted a proposal to develop the half-acre city parcel in 1996, the Baltimore Development Corp. advertised for competing proposals and received none.

In March, the city gave the team a six-month negotiating priority to complete its plans for the property and line up financing. City officials say the developers hope to begin construction in time to open the apartments by 2000.

Pub Date: 8/08/97

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