Urban Landscape: Station North’s Next Redevelopment Project; Paulie Gee’s Has Soft Opening

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photo by Ed Gunts
photo by Ed Gunts

A long-vacant community center on Maryland Avenue is the newest revitalization project in Baltimore’s Station North Arts and Entertainment District.

The former Maryland Community Resource Center at Maryland and Lafayette avenues was sold in a foreclosure auction in March for $1.155 million, and the property settled in June.

The buyer was 1734 Maryland LLC, a group headed by Baltimore entrepreneur Dennis Richter. Alex Cooper Auctioneers handled the sale.

Highly visible to drivers heading south on Maryland Avenue, the property is actually an assemblage of eight parcels: 1715, 1717, 1719, 1721, 1723 and 1734 Maryland Avenue and 19 and 21 West Lafayette Avenue. It includes a surface parking lot with 15 to 20 spaces as well as about 28,000 square feet of office and meeting space in new and rehabbed structures. Five of the parcels were 1890s row houses.

Over the past century, the three-story buildings on Maryland Avenue have housed private residences, a woodworking shop, a plumbing and heating supplier, and a series of antiques stores.

Starting in 1999, the block was the headquarters and first permanent home for the Health Education Resource Organization (HERO), a nonprofit that served people with HIV and AIDS. HERO experienced financial difficulties and closed in 2008. The building has been dormant in recent years, even as other Station North properties have been acquired for redevelopment.

James Arnold of Amos, Bailey & Lee was the lead designer of the resource center, which represented an investment of $4.2 million when it opened. Although the five row houses were constructed as separate homes, they have been connected internally so staffers and clients could move easily from one area to another. The exteriors were restored and painted one color, to indicate that it is one facility.

To provide barrier-free access to the center, the architect created an addition directly south of the connected row houses, on a lot that once contained a gas station. The addition includes an entrance lobby, elevator tower and boardroom with a view of the train tracks and downtown skyline. Its exterior is made of materials different from those of the brick rowhouses, including masonry block and corrugated metal.

Richter said the center is in good condition and the first level will have tenants related to health and wellness, such as a yoga studio and a massage therapist. He said the upper-level office space is available for small companies that want to be in the Station North arts district and close to Penn Station and downtown. The center will be ready for occupancy September 1.

Architect Leo D’Aleo Passes Away

Baltimore architect Leo D’Aleo, known for high profile such as the Scarlett Place condominiums and the renovation of Baltimore’s City Hall, passed away Sunday. He had been experiencing heart problems for more than a year.

D’Aleo was a partner of Meyers and D’Aleo Inc., a firm that was very active during the Schaefer administration on projects involving new construction, rehabilitation and both. After partner Bill Meyers left the firm in 1990, it was renamed D’Aleo Inc.

The firm’s projects included the Towson branch of the Baltimore County Public Library; the Johnston Professional Building at Union Memorial Hospital and the Waxter Center for Senior Citizens. One of D’Aleo’s trademarks was building with strong forms, and often rounded corners. His firm also specialized in continuing care retirement communities, including Blakehurst in Baltimore County and Baywoods in Annapolis.

Another Brooklyn Business Lands in Baltimore

Brooklyn businesses that have announced plans to move into the Baltimore market include Robicelli’s Bakery, which is moving to the Howard Street corridor, and the West Elm home furnishings store, which is opening a branch in Harbor Point. Now a third Brooklyn business has joined them. Paulie Gee’s, a pizza restaurant inside the cavernous old Hampden Republican Club at 3535 Chestnut Avenue, has begun its “soft opening.” It’s named after partner Paul Giannone, the founder of Paulie Gee’s in Brooklyn.
Around the region:
July 21 is the opening date for Wet City, a craft beer bar in the former Dougherty’s Pub space at 223 West Chase Street.

…Smoothie King, a chain that features blended drinks, is building a new outlet in place of the Video Americain video store at Keswick Road and Cold Spring Lane in Roland Park.

…The former Lutheran Church of the Holy Comforter at 5513 York Road, a Govans landmark, has become Kingdom Dominion Cathedral, home of Faithtriumph Ministries International. Holy Comforter’s congregation last year merged with the Episcopal Church of the Nativity, several blocks north at 419 Cedarcroft Road. The combined community is called The Churches of Nativity and Holy Comforter, An Episcopal — Lutheran Community.

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