BDC offers S. Gay Street properties to developer planning 62 apartments, ground-floor retail

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Photo via Baltimore Development Corporation

A stretch of vacant, city-owned properties along S. Gay Street near the Inner Harbor is set to be redeveloped into more than six dozen apartments and 6,000 square feet of retail space.

The Baltimore Development Corporation has chosen that plan from six bids received in a request for proposals put out in September of 2017, according to this week’s spending board agenda. The developer, LRP Guardian House LLC, plans to build the 62 dwellings at 17, 19 and 23 S. Gay St.—located behind Power Plant Live!—and on a surface lot at 10 S. Frederick St. that’s recently been used as parking for Baltimore police.

Under the terms of a $1.24 million land disposition agreement, approved by the Board of Estimates Wednesday morning, LRP Guardian House will allocate a fifth of its units for reduced rent, setting them aside for tenants who make 80 percent or less of the median income in that area ($89,875 for a family of four, $80,938 for a family of three, etc., according to the developer.)

And, according to a release sent out Wednesday, 20 percent of the units will be “designated primarily for Baltimore City First Responders–men and women officers of the Baltimore Police Department and Baltimore Fire Department” who make 80 percent or less of the area median income.

That’s the inspiration for the development’s name, according to George Watson of Landmark Partners, which is behind the project.

“Landmark Partners is all about contributing to the revitalization of long-neglected properties of our city with purpose-driven projects that enhance the quality of life of Baltimore City residents,” Watson said in part in a statement. “Guardian House is ‘exhibit A’ in this mission, and we’re especially committed to providing affordable quality housing options for those who serve Baltimore City residents each and every day as First Responders, and importantly, near where they work.”

Construction is expected to begin in the final quarter of this year, the company said.

Landmark Partners operates the City House co-working space at 6 E. Eager St., housed in a renovated early 20th-century Greystone mansion. The developer is also planning an eight-story office building on the site of the Grand Central gay nightclub in Mount Vernon.

The quasi-public BDC put the properties up to bid in fall of 2017, seeking proposals that would “encourage re-use of the parcels in a fashion that achieves the city’s objectives of job creation, tax generation and adaptive reuse,” and that would activate the street level and increase foot traffic.

BDC President and CEO William Cole said in a statement Wednesday that Guardian House “meets our objectives for a quality development that will activate ground floor retail and generate tax revenue, while providing additional affordable housing options for families.”

The 2017 RFP said the chosen developer would have to keep certain architectural components and structures intact and “preserve the character of the neighborhood,” among other requirements. The sites are eligible for tax credits in exchange for providing market-rate rental housing, historic preservation of the structures and more.

The BDC also solicited bids for the buildings in 2015. The three existing structures were built at the turn of the 20th century, and are sandwiched between Power Plant Live! to the east and The Block to the west.

Other bids that were considered in the latest round, per the Baltimore Business Journal‘s reporting on an otherwise closed-door meeting last spring, included demolishing the buildings to make way for a 120-room hotel, or redeveloping the existing structures into a mix of apartments, condos and/or office space.

This story has been updated as of Wednesday afternoon.

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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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