Peter G. Angelos is considering acquiring the Fidelity Building at 210 N. Charles St. and turning the 15-story office structure into apartments.
If the purchase goes through, the 168,000-square-foot building -- which dates to the 1890s -- would become the latest building block in Angelos' effort to revitalize the financial district and the area around his flagship One Charles Center skyscraper.
The 22-story office tower, which Angelos bought for $6 million in late 1996, is next door to the Fidelity Building. Angelos also owns the Hamburger's Building at Charles and Fayette streets, which he is renovating for the Johns Hopkins University's downtown campus.
But Fidelity & Deposit Cos. officials, Angelos and his real estate representatives cautioned that the purchase may not occur.
"It just may not happen," said Angelos, who also is the Baltimore Orioles' majority owner. "There are a lot of things to consider. It's premature, so I'd rather not discuss it."
The Fidelity Building, one of the few that survived Baltimore's great fire in 1904, is occupied by F&D; Cos., Cho, Wilks & Benn Architects Inc. and a bevy of small law firms. It is currently 83 percent leased, said John E. Zeller, F&D; Cos.' manager of corporate real estate.
F&D;, which shifted its headquarters to 300 St. Paul St. about eight years ago, currently has 200 employees in the Fidelity Building. About 500 of the company's employees work at 300 St. Paul St., Zeller said.
Regarding the Fidelity Building, "there are a litany of issues to deal with, and we have a team of experts reviewing the project now," said Wayne R. Gioioso Jr., a representative of Angelos' real estate arm, Artemis Management & Development Inc.
A feasibility study is expected to be completed by mid-June. The roughly $10 million purchase, if it occurs, would take place by the end of July, sources said.
Angelos could elect to maintain the Fidelity Building as offices.
If he does buy the building and attempt to convert it to apartments, the move would dovetail with a city effort to add apartments and residents downtown. In the past year, 149 new apartment units in two projects have been added, and more are expected.
The two most recent projects are Gallery Towers, a 145-unit project at Park and Centre streets developed by Southern Management Co., and five apartments above the Sotto Sopra restaurant at 405 N. Charles St.
"The Fidelity Building is a beautiful building and it's well located," said Tracy Durkin, the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc.'s director of downtown housing initiative. "It would tie in nicely with the other multifamily projects in the area, such as the Park Charles and the Charles Towers."
The city's Downtown Housing Council, a panel put together by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and chaired by city Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III, hopes to have another 285 apartments under construction by the end of the year. Projects are being planned at 300 N. Charles St., the Congress Hotel on Franklin Street, the Abell Building at 333 W. Baltimore St. and the Hecht Co. Building on Howard Street.
In all, the council hopes to add 1,000 rental units downtown within three years. But the projects are complicated and costly. Five years ago, developers considered converting the vacant former USF&G; Corp. headquarters on Calvert Street into residences, but backed off after the price was estimated to exceed $11 million.
To offset such costs, the city and several economic development agencies have pledged nearly $9 million, and developers can tap into historic tax credits and special conversion-payment-in-lieu-of-taxes programs as well, Durkin said.
Pub Date: 5/27/99