Photo by Ed Gunts.

A Pennsylvania developer is proposing to construct a five-story, 52-unit apartment building at 101-105 W. North Ave., next to the Lazarus Center of the Maryland Institute College of Art.

INPHL Development of Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, is seeking approval from Baltimore’s zoning board to construct the building, which would be one of the first new market-rate housing developments to rise on North Avenue in years. INPHL’s infill proposal is yet another sign that development activity is heating up in Baltimore’s Station North Arts and Entertainment District.

According to plans on file with the zoning board, the proposed structure would have 1,640 square feet of ground-floor retail space and 52 apartments above, but no on-site parking. The apartments would be one-bedroom and studio units. Alexander Design Studio would be the architect.

The project would require demolition of the KAGRO building, a one-story Modernist structure that dates from 1961 and has housed several users, including a branch of the now-defunct Maryland National Bank and the Korean-American Grocers and Licensed Beverage Association of Maryland. In 2015, it was the setting for “Bubble Over Green,” an art exhibit featuring work by California artist Victoria Fu and organized by the Contemporary, a roving museum.

According to the Baltimore Heritage advocacy group, the building was designed by the firm of Smith & Veale and was one of the city’s first commercial buildings with a precast concrete frame.

Before construction can begin, however, the project needs two variances from the zoning board, a parking waiver and a bulk variance.

The parking variance is required because the city’s zoning code requires properties in a C-2 zoning district, including 101 W. North Ave., to provide one parking space for every residential unit, and INPHL isn’t proposing to include any parking spaces.

The bulk variance is required because the lot size is 8,146 square feet and the city requires each residence in a C-2 district to have at least 225 square feet of space. To fit 52 units on that site without a waiver in a C-2 area, the required lot area would be 11,700 square feet. The development plan proposes 156 square feet of land area per unit.

The property is owned by Elkridge residents Chun Chung and Young Chung, who bought it in 1994 for $257,000, according to state records. Edward Morris, a representative for INPHL and the property owners, could not be reached.

A staff report filed with the zoning waiver application states the Charles North area, which includes the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, needs small, affordable apartments for students from MICA and the University of Baltimore, and others who want to live there.

“Charles North has seen rapid growth in recent years as its arts and entertainment district has flourished, and the neighborhood is in need of diverse housing options,” the report says.

The staff report also noted the area has “a wealth of” transit options, including bus lines, light rail and the Maryland Avenue cycle track. “Accordingly, it is anticipated that the residents of the building will rely on transit or bicycles and would largely not own cars,” the report said. “Due to the site constraints of the property, building a surface parking lot would impose a hardship, as well as being unnecessary in the context of the neighborhood.”

The zoning board has scheduled a hearing for April 23 at 1 p.m. at City Hall to consider the application.

The North Avenue project is one of several planned for the area in and around Baltimore’s Station North Arts and Entertainment District.

In January, the zoning board approved a request to waive standard parking requirements for Wheelhouse 2, a five-story, 44-unit apartment building proposed for a vacant lot at 2001 N. Charles St. The development team is led by 28 Walker Development, the group behind McHenry Row in Locust Point and Canton Crossing in East Baltimore, and has said it is aiming to attract residents who have a car-free lifestyle.

According to the Baltimore Business Journal, the Pride Center of Maryland and Graag Cordona Partners of Washington, D.C., are planning to build a five-story, $7.4 million building that would be a new headquarters for the Pride Center on a vacant parcel at 2004-2012 N. Charles St. Maryland’s General Assembly approved $500,000 in state bond funding to help build the project.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the average residence would be 156 square feet in size, when in fact there would actually be 156 square feet of land area per unit. Baltimore Fishbowl regrets the error.

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.

One reply on “52 apartments planned to replace the modernist KAGRO building on North Avenue”

  1. looks like a bank….or church. windows blocked up. nice proportions. make a great lobby base for the new building.

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