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5 proposals offered for Howard St. area


Baltimore's development agency has received five proposals to build apartments and shops in the 400 block of N. Howard St. as part of the city's efforts to rejuvenate the west side of downtown.

The Baltimore Development Corp. will evaluate the proposals over the next several weeks and recommend one to Mayor Martin O'Malley by the end of November, said Sharon Grinnell, chief operating officer for the city development agency.

The large number of responses to the agency's June request for proposals in the area illustrates the strong interest in the city's project to rebuild the struggling west side of downtown, said M. J. "Jay" Brodie, president of the agency.

"The excellent response is evidence of people's excitement about what is happening on the west side," Grinnell said. "I think that people truly believe that change is coming in this area."

The Howard Street block being studied is part of a mostly boarded-up stretch of stores that the city bought in the mid-1990s for more than $1 million to create artist housing and galleries in an area to be called the "Avenue of the Arts."

That project never got off the ground, and the city's request in June for proposals opened up the possibility that developers could propose projects not related to the arts.

One member of the seven-member panel that will be evaluating the proposals is state Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell IV, who wants to create an African-American entertainment and business district in the area. Minority ownership will be one factor in evaluating the proposals, agency officials said.

The five proposals are:

The Artcep LLC, led by L. Paul Bryant and the Baldwin Development Corp., is proposing to build a mixture of 114 apartments and 30 studios for artists, as well as dance studios, recording studios, art shops, galleries, a bookstore and cafe.

RAR Associates Development Corp., led by Ron and Elena Russo, is proposing 37 loft apartments, 10 shops, a 64-space parking lot, a four-story parking garage and a 200-seat theater at 418-420 N. Howard St., site of the former Columbus Savings and Loan Association.

The Howard Street Mews De- velopment Group, led by Thomas Rafailides and Perry Savoy, is proposing to build 74 apartments, several shops and a 390-space parking lot for tenants of the apartments.

Blair McDaniels LLC, led by Wendy Blair and Derek McDaniels, is proposing a mixture of 73 apartments, 13,500 square feet of shops, 7,800 square feet of gardens and 104 parking spaces.

Struever Brothers Eccles and Rouse, led by C. William Struever, Frederick Struever, Charles Eccles and Winstead Rouse, is proposing 77 apartments, between 4,000 and 5,000 square feet of shops and 84 parking spaces.

The area included in the proposals is 408-424 N. Howard St., 305-319 W. Franklin St. and part of an alley called Pierce Street.

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