Urban Landscape: New Life for Hendler Creamery; New Owner for Brown’s Wharf; Ribbon Cutting for Sagamore Spirit Distillery; Community Meeting on Royal Farms Proposed for Towson

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A rendering of the proposed renovation of the Hendler Creamery building, via Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation.

A $75 million plan to convert Baltimore’s Hendler Creamery to apartments and retail space cleared a key hurdle last week when a city preservation panel approved the design.

Baltimore’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation approved plans to convert the former ice cream plant at 1100 E. Baltimore Street in Jonestown to 296 apartments, 218 parking spaces and 20,000 square feet of commercial space.

The development team, Hendler Creamery Development LLC, is headed by Kevin Johnson of Commercial Development. Design Collective is the architect, with Nick Mansperger as the project designer. The project is called Hendler Creamery.

Johnson said his team aims to begin construction in June and open the development by the third quarter of 2019. He told the commissioners he is grateful for their approval.

“We have worked …diligently to save the fabric of the building,” he told the panelists after they voted. “I really am moved by your support.”

The Baltimore Street building was designed by Jackson Gott and others. The oldest portion dates from the 1890s, and is considered America’s first fully automated ice cream plant. It later became a power station, but has been dormant for many years.

Commission approval was required because the property is in the Jonestown Historic District. The design calls for retaining the shell of the original building on Baltimore Street, with new openings to accommodate street-level retail space and other changes. Much of the plant’s interior will be gutted and rebuilt to contain residences, parking and commercial space. The approach was described as creating a building within a building.

A gray stone building on the north side of the property, visible from Orleans Street and damaged by a series of fires, will be torn down to make way for new construction.

A view of the current building, via via Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation.

Several of the commissioners expressed strong support for the proposed alterations, even though they will change the appearance of the existing building. Panel member Matthew Mosca called it “a really brilliant design.”

Hendler Creamery is the latest of several projects planned for Jonestown, including a new Ronald McDonald House and improvements to the park near the McKim Community Center. Less than two blocks away, the National Aquarium is converting the former Chess Communications office building to a $20 million Animal Care and Rescue Center.

“This has been a very, very long time coming,” said Dan Taylor, assistant managing director of neighborhood development for the Baltimore Development Corp. “It dovetails very nicely with other development nearby.”

A rendering of the proposed redevelopment of Brown’s Wharf, via Lawrence Howard & Associates, Inc.

Continental Realty Corp. Buys Brown’s Wharf for $21 Million

Continental Realty Corp. has acquired Brown’s Wharf, a mixed-use development in Fells Point, for $21 million and plans to spend another $2 million to upgrade building systems and common areas and add a marina.

Hunt Investment Management was the seller of the property at 1615-1637 Thames Street. It has 104,000 square feet of office, retail and restaurant space and was last renovated in the late 1980s. The sale was completed Friday, with Jay Wellschlager and Andrew Finkelstein of JLL representing the sellers. Renovation work is expected to start within six months.

Continental is joint venturing with Baltimore-based WorkShop Development. Doug Schmidt, Richard Manekin and Neil Tucker of WorkShop will oversee the day-to-day operations and execute the partnership’s redevelopment plans. WorkShop does not presently have an equity position in the development, but it likely will in the future, according to Continental representative Larry Lichtenauer. An architect for the renovations has not been selected yet, Lichtenauer said.

Birchwood Capital, led by David Strouse, assisted Continental Realty Corporation in the arrangement of acquisition financing through PNC Bank. Robert Manekin, Tony Gross and Peter Jackson of JLL will provide office leasing brokerage services.

Continental and WorkShop representatives said they were attracted by the waterfront setting, the existing tenants and the amount of redevelopment activity in the immediate area, among other factors.

“We have been closely tracking the renaissance of the eastern portion of Baltimore City, highlighted by corporate headquarters relocations, the opening of new restaurants and residential projects and the overall refocus of energy and vitality,” said Continental CEO J. M. Schapiro, in a statement. “With Brown’s Wharf positioned within the heart of Fells Point, our team can build off the vitality of the new developments at Harbor Point, the Sagamore Pendry hotel and the Broadway Square renovation.”

“We consider Brown’s Wharf a one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable property in Baltimore City given its placement along the waterfront, and central location within an area that has been the recipient of a dramatic shift of energy over the past several years,” said Ari Abramson, Continental’s Vice President of Acquisitions.

Jhpiego, a Johns Hopkins affiliate, “provides a solid leasing foundation as the primary tenant in Brown’s Wharf,” Abramson said.

Originally constructed in the 1800s and renovated and expanded in 1988, Brown’s Wharf consists of three brick-and-stone buildings. It is currently 77 percent leased to a variety of local and regional businesses, retailers and boutiques, as well as a restaurant and bar.

The project occupies a 1.37-acre site that includes a 270-foot waterfront promenade, which will provide access to the proposed marina. The restaurant anchor is Mexican-themed Barcocina. Other retailers are CFG Community Bank, 7-11, Fells Point Surf Company and aMuse Toys of Fell’s Point.

WorkShop’s projects range from the Bagby Building near Little Italy to The Shops at Canton Crossing to an apartment tower planned for the Della Notte restaurant site on President Street.

“We are excited to tackle the restoration of another iconic historic property in southeast Baltimore,” said Doug Schmidt of WorkShop in a statement. “Brown’s Wharf’s 1988 renovation was an important contributor to the revitalization of Fells Point. We expect our improvements in the next year will be part of the next wave of Fells Point’s growth.”

An aerial rendering of Port Covington, via Sagamore Development

Sagamore Development Releases New Images of Port Covington

Sagamore Development has released new views of the Port Covington waterfront, showing how it may look when its 266-acre, $5.5 billion redevelopment project is built out over the next 20 years. The next project to open is the Sagamore Spirit Distillery, which will have a ribbon cutting on Thursday at 301 E. Cromwell Street and will be open for public tours beginning on Friday.

Here are some other shots:

A rendering of Port Covington with a view from I-95, via Sagamore Development.
A rendering of Port Covington at Cromwell Street and Penny Lane, via Sagamore Development.

Community Meeting Set for May 8 About Royal Farms in Towson

May 8 is the date for a “community input meeting” at which area residents will be able to express their views about a Royal Farms gas station and convenience store planned for York Road and Bosley Avenue in Towson. Caves Valley Partners is the prospective developer. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the Conference Center at Sheppard Pratt, 6501 N. Charles Street.

Enrica Jang Joins Poe House as its New Director

The Edgar Allan Poe House at 203 N. Amity Street has a new director in Enrica Jang. Under her leadership, the house is now open one extra day a week, Thursday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Before, it was open Friday to Sunday. Its poetry series will resume in May, with readings on the second Sunday of each month, starting at 2 p.m.

This story has been corrected to reflect Nick Mansperger’s correct name and title.

Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts writes Urban Landscape on Mondays in the Baltimore Fishbowl. He is the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.
Ed Gunts