Woodberry residents won’t have to bid farewell to two historic, 1840s stone mill homes on June 15, as a developer has agreed to postpone a scheduled demolition until after he meets again with neighbors.
Sheri Higgins, president of the Woodberry Community Association, said in an email Thursday that development firm CLD Partners has agreed to hold off on exterior demolition until after a community meeting on June 19.
The firm is eyeing both properties for an apartment building with as many as 80 units. A sign posted outside one of the structures this week had indicated demolition would commence four days before the meeting.
As The Brew first reported Tuesday, CLD Partners has already begun demolishing pieces of both buildings at 3511-13 Clipper Road and 3523-25 Clipper Road, including the dismantling of additions. However, Baltimore Housing records indicate this was sanctioned, as the city issued a permit May 29 for “non-structural demolition”—including removal of non-load bearing walls, rear additions and more—though not for demolition of the stone exterior.
Christopher Mfume, managing partner of CLD, did not respond to an email requesting comment on the postponement of the June 15 demolition.
Both structures are integral to the Woodberry neighborhood’s history, preservationists told Baltimore Fishbowl earlier this week.
“There are not many historic places this much still together, in Baltimore or elsewhere, and it would be a real loss for these two houses to be demolished,” Baltimore Heritage executive director Johns Hopkins wrote in an email Tuesday.
But while some neighbors were surprised to learn of the pending demolition, CLD already met with the Woodberry Community Association and a few local residents on May 17, a gathering at which Mfume presented details about his vision for “workforce housing,” with rent ranging from $1,100 to $1,300 for a studio.
He also said his design team would look into whether the stone from the demolished mill houses could be reincorporated into the design for the complex, according to minutes from the May meeting obtained by Baltimore Fishbowl.
Some residents voiced concerns about the buildings on May 17, but none protested the project overall, Mfume said. “We relayed at that time our intentions to demolish them, and there really wasn’t much pushback on that—actually none.”
Higgins affirmed that was the case Thursday, but offered a bit more nuance to that account.
“Although we had a consensus that a demo might be necessary at the meeting, we collectively had thought that that would be a discussion at a follow-up meeting rather than approval to proceed,” Higgins said. “We thought they’d come back to us with the structural report for discussion.”
While some have suggested that Mfume could preserve the existing stone mill houses and build around them, the developer said doing so would bring extra costs to the project, which would in turn raise the projected rent for the apartments.
If built, the complex would be situated not far from another major development project slated for Clipper Mill, where developer Larry Jennings Jr.’s firm Valstone Partners hopes to add up to four mixed-use apartment buildings. Katherine Jennings, who is related to Larry, is the resident agent of Woodberry Station LLC, which purchased both mill houses within the last 15 months. State records and quick address searches show Woodberry Station, CLD Partners and Valstone are located in the same office building at 300 W. Pratt Street.
While June 15 demolition has been postponed, Mfume is scheduled to present design plans for the apartments to the city’s Urban Design and Architectural Advisory Panel on June 14.
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