A rendering shows what Redwood Place will look like after developers finish transforming the former Hotel RL Baltimore Inner Harbor into a 130-unit apartment building. Credit: Michael Graves Architecture Design.
A rendering shows what Redwood Place will look like after developers finish transforming the former Hotel RL Baltimore Inner Harbor into a 130-unit apartment building. Credit: Michael Graves Architecture Design.

The former Hotel RL Baltimore Inner Harbor at 207 East Redwood Street will be converted to a 130-unit apartment building called Redwood Place, according to new owners who plan to invest $18.5 million to reposition the property.

A group headed by father-and-son developers Kemp and Brad Byrnes of Byrnes & Associates announced that it has acquired the 10-story building, which closed as a hotel in late 2022, and plans to start work immediately on the conversion.

Byrnes & Associates is a commercial real estate and investment company that has long focused on Baltimore’s Charles Street corridor and, more recently, on East Redwood Street.

Other members of the development team are investors Jay Litke and Moe Krohn of Kove Group LLC, and investor and asset manager Brendan Ferrara of Carm Capital LLC. Litke and Krohn will serve as the general contractors, performing all construction activities.

The seller was RL Baltimore LLC, an affiliate of Red Lion Hotels Corp. of Spokane, Washington, which opened the hotel in 2015. Michael Graves Architecture and Design is the architect for the property, which was a post-Great Fire of 1904 office building before it was a hotel. The developers are planning a mix of studio, junior one-bedroom and one-bedroom units. They’re aiming to lease the building and obtain 100 percent occupancy within 18 months.

The hotel conversion follows Byrnes & Associates’ November 2020 acquisition and $5 million upgrading of two other buildings on the same block, the Vickers Exchange and the Redwood Exchange at 225 and 233 East Redwood Street. Together, they contain 90,000 square feet of office and retail space, upgraded by Byrnes in partnership with entrepreneur Dave Gupta.

Since late 2020, Byrnes & Associates has signed 60 office and retail leases at the buildings, bringing the occupancy rate from five percent, after a large firm moved out, to 65 percent. At street level, the owner of Pete’s Grill in Waverly reopened Werner’s Restaurant as Werner’s Diner and Pub, restoring the interior to its 1950s-era luster.

The acquisition of 207 E. Redwood Street will bring to about $25 million the amount of funds invested on Redwood Street by Byrnes & Associates and its partners.

Brad Byrnes refers to Redwood Street as “the new Main Street” of downtown Baltimore.

“A renaissance has taken place along East Redwood Street over the past few years as business owners, office workers and consumers alike have rediscovered the magic of this section of downtown Baltimore, which was known as the ‘Wall Street of the South’ in the early 1900s,” he said in a statement. “Our planned conversion to apartment units represents the next natural evolution of our long-term reinvigoration strategy.”

Apartment renters “inject much-needed energy into downtown areas, with residents also significantly impacting area retailers, restaurants, entertainment and sports venues and downtown attractions,” Byrnes continued. “We expect a great portion of the residents to also work in downtown office buildings, which also has a cumulatively positive effect on the liveliness and vigor of the greater area.”

The apartments, created within the dimensions of the existing hotel rooms, will offer 400 to 800 square feet of living space. As hotel rooms, they featured high ceilings, large windows and bathrooms with glass showers. In the conversion, they will be upgraded with kitchens, wood and tile flooring, modern fixtures and “dressing room-sized” closets.

The developers say the conversion to residences will benefit from the building’s former use as a hotel, with “minimal construction needed beyond adding kitchens and washers and dryers to the units, as well as transforming the lobby café into a 3,300-square-foot restaurant that will be located at the intersection of Redwood and Calvert” streets. The developers plan to retain the hotel’s fitness center and banquet and conference rooms, while adding a game room and storage space.

Brad Byrnes notes that future tenants will be in a lively, mixed-use area, within easy walking distance of shops, restaurants and other businesses. In addition to Werner’s Diner and Pub, his list of new and existing businesses includes: Goodwill’s Excel Academy; the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company; Prim & Proper Cocktail & Wine Bar; The Empanada Lady; Clock Restoration Bar & Kitchen, Parlour75 Barber Co. and Zander’s Restaurant, planned for the historic Alex. Brown & Sons building at Baltimore and Calvert streets. 

Beginning this fall the ownership group, along with Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and other stakeholders, plans to sponsor monthly festivals that will involve the closing of the entire block of Redwood Street, stringing of festoon lighting, adding valet parking and assigning a dedicated security detail to the area.

Brad Byrnes said he’s counting on the nearby amenities and event programming to help attract tenants.

“We have incredible neighbors,” Brynes said. “Within the next six to 12 months, Redwood Place at 207 East Redwood Street will be the centerpiece of an amazing block that is a microcosm of everything that is great about downtown Baltimore.”

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