Locust Point development scaled back

The Baltimore Sun

An ambitious plan to expand the Tide Point development in Locust Point has been scaled back significantly in the face of community opposition, the developer told a city planning panel yesterday. The panel approved the plan, but it must clear other hurdles before ground is broken.

Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse intends to build 129 townhouses, a seven-story building with 200,000 square feet of office and retail space, two parking garages, a museum and a building with 4,000 square feet of retail on the northern edge of Locust Point, near the Inner Harbor waterfront. Construction would take several years.

Community leaders said they are comfortable with this plan, which is a sharp departure from a proposal offered earlier this year. That plan called for a 15-story parking and residential building, two four-story apartment buildings, three four-story condominium buildings and 10,000 square feet of retail along Key Highway - plus the office building, garages and museum.

"We heard from the community that they were concerned not only about density but also about height," said Tim Pryor, a development director at Struever Bros. "We heard the community's message loud and clear."

The plans were revised during multiple meetings with the community over the past few months.

A 2004 Locust Point master plan adopted by the city estimated that a full build-out of the South Baltimore neighborhood would mean about 820 new housing units. The neighborhood will be approaching that figure when Struever's new townhouses are combined with the 228 upscale condominiums expected to go on sale this summer at Silo Point, a former grain elevator, and the 248 residential units planned for McHenry Row, site of the former Chesapeake Paperboard Co.

Struever officials said the reduction in plans is not in response to the slowdown in the housing market. But Pryor told city officials that not all the townhouses would be built at once, partly because of the real estate market.

"We don't think the neighborhood could support that," he said. "We'll phase them in over a few years."

The revised plan won approval from the city's Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel yesterday but still must go through the Planning Commission and City Council.

Planning Director Douglas B. McCoach III said he would like to see the height of the parking garage reduced. Panel members also suggested using the roof of the garage in a way that would benefit the community, such as basketball courts or solar panels.

"You've taken great steps at knitting the fabric of Locust Point back together," McCoach told the developer. Struever Bros. said it has no plans for further development in Locust Point beyond this project.

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