The memory of Martick’s Restaurant Francais will live on in Baltimore’s newest apartment project.
After five presentations, Baltimore’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation on Tuesday gave final design approval to a $30 million development on Baltimore’s Westside that includes the restored front portion of the former Martick’s restaurant at 214 W. Mulberry St.
Commission members voted 6-0 to approve the final design, which calls for a six-story, 94-unit apartment building to rise just east of the two-and-a-half story historic structure.
The six-story apartment building at 400 Park Ave. will be notched so that its west end wraps around the former restaurant, which dates from before the Civil War and will be separated from the new structure by about six inches.
The development from Park Avenue Partners also includes the renovation of a former Baltimore Gas and Electric Company power plant at 409 Tyson St. and row houses at 406, 408, 410, 412 and 414 Park Ave. It will have about 40,000 square feet of commercial space, in addition to dwellings.
Developer Chris Janian, representing Vitruvius Development and Park Avenue Partners, said his team hopes to begin construction in the first quarter of 2020 and finish by mid-2021. He said no demolition will take place on the rear portion of the Martick’s building until the team is ready to begin work on the entire project.
CHAP has authority to review designs for the project because it falls within the Howard Street Commercial Historical District. The panel previously asked the developer to preserve the front part of Martick’s because of its historical significance as a gathering spot for Baltimore’s arts community. It was also one of the first places in Baltimore where diners were introduced to French cuisine, and is one of the oldest buildings in the city.
At a public hearing yesterday, the development team showed plans for restoring the exterior of the Martick’s building, including rebuilding the pitched roof and Italianate cornice and replacing windows and shutters.
Plans by Quinn Evans Architects call for the brick exterior to be painted several shades of gray, so that it stands out from the lighter-colored apartment building and reads as a separate structure. The apartments will be clad in a combination of bricks, fiber-cement panels, architectural concrete and wood slats.
Janian said he is working with the Chinatown Collective of Baltimore to identify artists who can paint as many as three murals on exterior walls to reflect the spirit of Baltimore’s Chinatown district to the south. He has said he wants to work with a nonprofit to identify a use for the former Martick’s building after it is restored, but hasn’t yet committed to one.
Commissioners praised the developers for responding to suggestions from the panel.
“I think it’s a pretty exciting project for Baltimore,” said commissioner Laura Penza. “It’s a good job of listening to all of our comments and making it work.”
Neither in form or materials or any other way is this proposed building sympathetic to the retained building. I am very pleased that the historic building does not face the bulldozer, but the planned new element could have been much better designed to use the older building as a key feature.
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