The University of Baltimore announced yesterday that it has begun negotiating with developers to build a 1,500-space garage and several buildings on three vacant lots near its campus at Charles Street and Mount Royal Avenue.
The lots, which total about 6 acres, are used as parking lots and are some of the last undeveloped spaces in midtown Baltimore. UB began seeking development proposals in October and received nearly 20 applications, said school President Robert L. Bogomolny.
School officials chose a group of developers headed by the Bozzuto Group, a Greenbelt-based company that developed Spinnaker Bay, near the Inner Harbor. The school and developers have 90 days to negotiate an agreement and proceed with the project.
UB officials and developers are considering several options, including office space, apartments, wellness centers and a grocery store for the three lots. Bogomolny promised that a parking structure would be included on the largest lot, a 4.2-acre site behind the Lyric Theatre and next to a light rail station that is known as Bolton Yards.
Plans would have to be approved by city, state and University System of Maryland officials.
The project would force the city to change Artscape, the popular three-day arts and music festival, which for the past three years has used the lot as a food court. City officials say they would find a new location for food vendors.
The other sites to be developed are a 1.25-acre parcel at Mount Royal Avenue and Charles Street and a 0.3-acre lot at Mount Royal Avenue and Cathedral Street.
The project could cost $100 million, which would be raised by developers. Bogomolny said that no state funds would be used.
A fourth empty parcel on Cathedral Street was not included in the agreement announced yesterday with the Bozzuto Group. UB officials will try to find another use for that lot.
The university would continue to own the three lots and collect rent and income from any developments, which Bogomolny said could help hold down student tuition and fees. UB has long prided itself on having one of the lowest tuitions in the state's 11-campus public university system.
UB students' tuition is about $5,000 a semester.
"It was clear when I arrived here that the state wasn't going to be able to deliver the amount of money to keep tuition down," Bogomolny said.
Developers said they will hold public meetings to gauge public interest and hope to begin work soon.
"It is my personal goal that we break ground a year and a half from now," said Todd Bozzuto, vice president of the Bozzuto Development Co., the branch of the Bozzuto Group that is negotiating with UB. "We're very excited, and we want to get started as soon as possible."
Rebecca Gagalis, executive director of the Charles Street Development Corp., said she was encouraged by the plans and hopes that development will spur economic development in the area.