Former rye whiskey warehouse near Inner Harbor to be converted into apartment units

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Osprey Property Company will convert the Lanahan Building, a former rye whiskey warehouse at 22 Light Street, into multifamily housing units. Photo courtesy of Lawrence Howard & Associates, Inc.

A former liquor warehouse that once produced rye whiskey in downtown Baltimore will be converted into a residential building with 40 multifamily units, as well as a ground floor restaurant.

Osprey Property Company bought the nearly 52,000-square-foot, six-story Lanahan Building at 22 Light St., for $4.25 million from the previous owner MCF Capital, said Brad Byrnes, principal at Byrnes & Associates, Inc., the Baltimore-based commercial real estate and investment firm that brokered the deal.

Osprey plans to invest about $21.5 million to reconfigure the building. Included in that redevelopment plan will be creating 40 units: 36 affordable housing and four market-rate housing units. The units will range from 560 to 1,100 square feet each, Byrnes said.

Byrnes, who represented both the buyer and seller in the sale, said that when the deal closed on Jan. 22 Osprey “hit the ground running” with beginning construction and they hope to complete the project by February 2021.

The 22 Light St. project will create affordable housing opportunities for working-class people who cannot afford luxury apartments, Byrnes said.

“The paralegals, the office managers, the nurses that might not be able to afford to live in some of these luxury apartments, it gives them an opportunity to live close to where they work and have that ‘live, work, play’ experience that the luxury apartments also have for their tenants,” he said, adding that Osprey recently completed another housing development at 20 E. Franklin St., with a similar number of apartments.

Byrnes said rent in the affordable housing units at 22 Light Street will be based on tenants’ income, so the cost of rent will not be determined until pre-leasing begins three to five months prior to the project’s completion.

Osprey also plans to create a 3,500-square-foot, ground floor restaurant space as part of the plan. The developers noted the location was once home to a location of the Oriole Cafeteria, a food chain that once operated throughout Baltimore.

Like pre-leasing for the housing units, Byrnes said the developers will not decide what type of restaurant to include in that space until about three to five months before completing the project.

The 7-11 convenience store that is currently on the ground floor will continue to operate throughout construction and will remain part of the building after the project is completed, Byrnes said.

The Lanahan Building property is nearby several other recently developed residential buildings, such as One Light Street and 10 Light Street, and retail and restaurant options.

It’s also near multiple transportation options, including bus and light rail stops, and the new owner plans to include bicycle storage racks in the building’s basement, Byrnes said.

Future residents of the Lanahan Building will be walking in the faded footsteps of the former liquor warehouse’s rich history.

William Lanahan & Son founded their rye whiskey company in the 19th century and eventually set up shop on Light Street.

When the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 hit, more than 1,500 buildings were leveled and about 1,000 were severely damaged across an 80-block area of downtown Baltimore. Among the structures lost to the blaze was the Lanahan Building.

But the Lanahans rebuilt their operations and resumed business in 1906 at their reconstructed Light Street location.

Byrnes said Osprey is seeking to maintain the historical integrity and unique characteristics of the building to create a residential offering that will stand apart from other downtown-area spaces.

Marcus Dieterle

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