Developers of the Wheelhouse apartment project in South Baltimore–aimed at millennials who want to live a “car-free lifestyle”–are planning to launch a possible sequel in the Station North area.
Baltimore’s Zoning Board this week approved plans for a five-story, 44-unit residential project referred to as “Wheelhouse” for a vacant parcel at 2001 N. Charles St.
The development would be one of the first new multi-family housing developments to take shape in the area since the 1970s, along with the $22 million Nelson Kohl Apartments that opened on Lafayette Street last year.
It would be another sign of strong interest from an established for-profit developer in the Station North area, a state-sanctioned arts and entertainment district between Mount Vernon and Charles Village.
The first Wheelhouse project is a five-story apartment building currently under construction at 1100 to 1106 S. Charles St., near the Cross Street Market. It aims to attract tenants who want to live without a car by offering every resident a bike and space to store it. It also has some furnished apartments for those just moving to town and common areas where residents are encouraged to spend time and get to know each other.
The team behind the Wheelhouse in South Baltimore is led by 28 Walker Development, the same group that developed McHenry Row in Locust Point and Canton Crossing.
The property at 2001 N. Charles St. was last used as a gas station but is currently dormant and fenced off. The proposal presented to the zoning board, drawn by SETO Architects, calls for commercial space at street level and 44 apartments above.
According to documents on file with the zoning board, the property owner is 2001 Charles LLC. The team was represented at the zoning board by Paul Yoo, an analyst with Birchwood Capital Partners, and Herbert Burgunder III, an attorney with Pessin Katz Law.
Burgunder told the board the developers of the Station North project were the same as the developers behind the Wheelhouse project in South Baltimore, and he said they were thinking of applying “the same concept” in Station North. He also showed the board a rendering of a building with the name Wheelhouse in large green letters on one side.
The developers were drawn to the area by signs of revitalization, such as the $18 million renovation of the Parkway Theatre on North Avenue and the conversion to multi-tenant work space of the former Centre Theatre on North Avenue, Burgunder said.
“People are starting to come back. There is starting to be positive development in the neighborhood.”
In its application, the development team asked the zoning board to waive a requirement to create one parking space for each residence and offered instead to build 10 off-street parking spaces. After listening to testimony about the project, the zoning board voted 3 to 0 to accept that request.
Burgunder said the apartments would be marketed to prospective tenants who want to live near the Maryland Institute College of Art, Johns Hopkins University or Penn Station. He said most of the residential construction activity in the area recently has involved renovation of older buildings containing four units or fewer.
The Wheelhouse project would be part of a trend that is bringing investment and redevelopment activity to the Station North area.
Last year, a team led by Ernst Valery and backed in part by actor Wendell Pierce from “The Wire” opened the Nelson Kohl Apartments, an eight-story building at 20 E. Lafayette St. with 105 residences and a Milk and Honey market and café.
A team led by Beatty Development Group has been working with Amtrak on a plan to revitalize the area around Penn Station.
Charles Duff of Jubilee Baltimore and developer Samuel Polakoff are working to renovate the former Odell’s nightclub on North Avenue.
Developer Dennis Richter bought the former Maryland Community Resource Center on Maryland Avenue and has renovated it for health-related and office uses.
The Parrish family, owners of the Baltimore Eagle leather bar at 2022 N. Charles St., has acquired additional properties for investment and redevelopment in the 2000 block of North Charles St. and along 21st Street.
The Wheelhouse project was supported by the city Department of Planning and the Charles North Community Association.
After the hearing, Burgunder declined to identify other members of the development team by name. The involvement of 28 Walker is spelled out in the team’s application for a zoning variance, which identifies Scott Slosson, development director for 28 Walker, as the representative for 2001 Charles LLC in the section for “owner information.”
The involvement of 28 Walker is significant because it has been one of the most successful developers in Baltimore City in recent years, and this would be its first project in the Station North area.
Mark Sapperstein, one of the principals behind 28 Walker, did not respond to a request for more information about the Station North project or his role in it.
Yoo said in an email after the meeting that the development team members are still in the early stages of planning the project and did not want to provide any more information than what he and Burgunder presented to the zoning board.
Yoo also said he is not sure if the bicycle arrangements would be exactly the same in Station North as they will be for the South Baltimore Wheelhouse.
“We really wanted to get the approval first for the parking situation before we started digging into design and other details,” he said in an email.