Photo by Ethan McLeod

A brand new eight-story apartment complex in Station North financed in part by Wendell Pierce, best known for playing Det. Bunk Moreland on “The Wire,” is set to open in early April.

Pierce said on Twitter Thursday that the opening of the 103-unit, blue-hued complex at 20 E. Lanvale Street will be marked with an April 6 ribbon cutting. The development is, in his words, “Fueling the Economic Engine of the Charm City.”

Today on the 10th anniversary of THE WIRE, and my love for Baltimore, I announce the Grand Opening of The Nelson Kohl Apartments, my development in Station North Arts District! April 6th Ribbon Cutting! Fueling the Economic Engine of the Charm City.

— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) March 8, 2018

On Friday morning, crews were still busily working on the ground floor, and siding still needed to be added to upper areas of the façade.

The $21 million complex has been under construction for nearly 18 months now. (Pierce was on hand for the groundbreaking in October 2016.) The development was initially billed as “artist housing”; developer SAA|EVI’s website says “the Nelson Kohl caters to millennial and working professionals who want to live in a walkable thriving entertainment district.”

The structure, which sits one block north of Penn Station and directly behind The Charles Theater, is among a growing number of modern buildings popping up around the gentrifying neighborhood. Others, some with entirely glass exteriors, sit within eyesight across the Jones Fall Expressway at the University of Baltimore and MICA campuses.

The ground floor of the building will include retail space, some of which has already been leased out for a new Milk and Honey location and an art gallery.

Pierce’s involvement in the project made national news in 2016, particularly in the wake of the 2015 Uprising. In addition to financially backing it, he said he was working with SA+A (since renamed to SAA|EVI) on a “developer apprentice program” that would train young people to become builders themselves.

“We feel that part of the solution is bringing economic developers, training the labor pool, and making sure that it’s aspirational and that they can eventually become developers themselves,” Pierce told CNN two years ago.

In response to Pierce’s Twitter announcement, some accused him of helping to further gentrify the area. The actor responded defensively, saying he’s bringing value to a previously empty property.

Gentrification is displacement of housing and businesses. When you take an empty and abandoned property and bring assets of housing and business to a community is different because you are bringing value to the citizens already there.

— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) March 9, 2018

A free market economy determines price points, hence the term market rate. An abandoned empty property brings zero benefit to present residents of Baltimore or common cause of government. An additional 100+ apartments in Baltimore and 25 minutes from DC is attractive

— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) March 9, 2018

As noted above, Pierce and his partners have characterized the apartments as “market rate.” Floor plans indicate rent starts at $1,195 for a studio, $1,495 for a one-bedroom/one-bathroom, and $2,145 for a two-bedroom/two-bathroom.

This story has been updated.

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Ethan McLeod

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...