An Owings Mills developer has stepped in to take over the stalled retail component of Lockwood Place, the Baltimore City Community College project at the Inner Harbor.
David S. Brown Enterprises, a developer known for building speculative projects and then filling them quickly, has taken over the 500 E. Pratt St. venture, replacing King of Prussia, Pa.-based Kravco Co.
Three stories of retail space proposed to run along Pratt and Market streets had been about 60 percent leased - the planned home for Champps Americana sports bar and restaurant, Chevy's Fresh Mex, Olive Garden and the Baltimore Chocolate Factory and Museum. But it is unclear which, if any, of those leases would be retained by the new developer.
Executives at David S. Brown Enterprises were out of the office yesterday and did not return telephone calls. A Kravco official declined to comment.
The change could help, said one Baltimore developer.
"This portion of the project has been delayed for years," said David S. Kornblatt, president of the Kornblatt Co. "For the rental component to fly there takes some creative ideas. Having a new developer come in is not a bad idea."
The mall is part of a $100 million project, including an office building and a completed parking garage, commissioned by Baltimore City Community College on its downtown property as a means of adding to the school's income.
"We don't have great concerns here," John Parham, executive director of human resources for the college, said of the delays. "It has its own pace."
Proposed in 1998, the project required developers to pay rent and build on a specific schedule, which had to be amended because of economic conditions.
The city offered tax breaks for the offices and garage to help get the project going.
Even as it was to fill in the last major office development site on the harbor, Lockwood Place's 275,000-square-foot office building was considered to be a gamble because of the faltering economy and significant unleased space in nearby office buildings.
Trammell Crow Co. is the developer of the offices portion of Lockwood Place.
The harbor views, abundant parking and upscale amenities were expected to make it a premier office address. The space is scheduled for completion at the end of next month, but no leases have been signed. Interest has been expressed in about half of the office space, brokers said.
Nearby, developers have slightly revised their plans for the former News American site at 300 E. Pratt St.
Schulweis Realty Inc., which had proposed an apartment tower there, now plans to top the $100 million project with about 50 condos. It also will have about 12,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor topped with a parking garage, forming the base for the residential units.
"One of the things we've been considering is adding a condominium component at the top of the building," said Thomas L. Brodie, managing director of Schulweis Realty.
"We think the condo market, like the rental market downtown, is fairly strong. We think that adding a condo component to our building would help us maximize the value of our project," Brodie said.
Harvey Schulweis, who is president of Schulweis Realty, also is president and chief executive of Baltimore-based Town and Country Trust, a real estate investment trust that owns 39 apartment communities on the East Coast.
The project, which would rise about 35 stories, would have about 200 rental units starting at the eighth floor. Those units would include a mixture of studios, and one- and two-bedroom apartments, Brodie said.
The condos would be two- and three-bedroom units, with some even larger, he said.
SLCE Architects of New York is designing the project. Brodie said the company hopes to break ground early in 2005, for completion about two years later.