For Baltimore, 2022 was largely a year of setting up development projects for 2023 and beyond. Here’s a look back at the city’s biggest openings, closings, construction projects, and other real estate and business news of the past year.
One of Baltimore’s newest buildings took a little longer to complete than expected.
When it opened on Inner Harbor Pier 1 last June, the $5 million education center for the USS Constellation had been in the works since 1999.
It’s taken “about 22 years,” said Christopher Rowsom, vice president of Living Classrooms and executive director of Historic Ships in Baltimore, the building’s operator. “But it got done.”
Not every new building that opened in Baltimore over the past 12 months took 22 years to complete, but sometimes it seemed that way. The restored Peale museum, which had a grand reopening in August, was a five-year effort. The Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center was 11 years in the making.
For those hoping to see Baltimore experience another urban “Renaissance” comparable to what residents witnessed during the “Do It Now!” years of the late 1970s and early 1980s, 2022 was more of a rebuilding year than one filled with ribbon cuttings.
A number of key projects were completed, including Baltimore Unity Hall, a $9.95 million center for arts, education and job training at 1505 Eutaw Place; the Creative Alliance’s $5.2 million Creativity Center at 3137 Eastern Ave. in Highlandtown; and Topgolf Baltimore at 1411 Warner Street. Lexington Market welcomed the first tenants to its $40 million new home downtown. The city’s first Lidl grocery store opened at Northwood Commons.
But much of the activity was behind the scenes, involving projects that have the potential to be transformative but haven’t yet opened to the public. Some are under construction, such as Penn Station shrouded in scaffolding; the CFG Bank Arena with its indoor webcam showing progress; and the giant pit from which the Johns Hopkins University’s $250 million student center will rise. Others haven’t gotten to the construction stage but are going through design reviews and lining up financing.
If one added up the cost of all the projects in the pipeline for downtown Baltimore, between those now under construction and those on the drawing boards — think Harbor Point, the Port Covington area, new housing in East Baltimore, and more — the figure would exceed the capital investment made in the 1980s. The past year brought both signs of progress and setbacks, including an emergency building demolition in Mount Vernon and the abrupt closure of the just-restored Parkway Theatre on North Avenue. Will the new developments add up to another Baltimore Renaissance, a case where the stars align and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts? That is clearly the hope.
On the drawing boards
Harborplace: One of the most important development projects that didn’t have a grand opening this year but was the subject of extensive behind-the-scenes activity, was the Harborplace “festival market” at Pratt and Light streets, the symbol for a revitalized Baltimore when it opened in 1980 but, in its current state, an emblem for how far it has to go.
In April, Mayor Brandon Scott announced that P. David Bramble of MCB Real Estate LLC was selected to buy and redevelop the two nearly vacant pavilions, which have languished in receivership after the previous owner, New York-based Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, defaulted on a loan. This month, a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge approved the sale. His order paves the way for the start of a “civic engagement’ process through which Bramble aims to arrive at a new shared vision for rejuvenating Harborplace.
“With the order in place, we will begin the hard work of equitably investing in one of Baltimore’s most critical assets by engaging every neighborhood and any resident that wants to be a part of this process,” Bramble said in a statement. “Inclusion will be the hallmark of our redevelopment process. We will reimagine this underutilized asset to create unique value for all of our communities. People like to count Baltimore out. This project will show what we, as a city, are capable of – and showcase the best of Baltimore for our own families, the region and the entire world.”
“This is the holiday gift that I’ve been waiting for!!” Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) President and CEO Colin Tarbert said on LinkedIn. “Baltimore City will finally have a reputable and local owner to collaborate on the transformation of this key site in order to position the Inner Harbor as an iconic destination once again.”
Middle Branch: A second transformative waterfront project is the master planning effort underway for the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. James Corner Field Operations and the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership are leading a team that has been exploring ways to reconnect a dozen South Baltimore communities to more than 11 miles of shoreline along the Patapsco.
Some elements of the plan have already materialized, including the $23.1 million, 35,000-square-foot Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center that opened last month in Cherry Hill. After a series of community meetings were held this summer and fall, the final plan is expected to go to Baltimore’s Planning Commission for review and formal adoption in February. The draft report can be found at reimaginemb.com.
Westport: One community that stands to benefit from the Middle Branch planning effort is Westport, where Monkton-based Stonewall Capital plans to create a 43-acre mixed-use waterfront community with 1,500 residences, office space and parkland. But Stonewall is in a legal dispute with Baltimore-Washington Rapid Rail, an organization that wants to use the same parcel as part of its route for a $10 billion superconductive magnetic levitation (maglev) system that would connect Washington, D. C. with New York City. The two sides will face off next year during a hearing in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.
The Compass: Also still in the preconstruction stage is The Compass, the proposed redevelopment of the so-called “Superblock” at Howard and Lexington streets, a mixed-use project that’s been in the works with various developers for at least two decades. For months after former Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young selected the current development team in late 2020, city officials touted the project as a key to the rejuvenation of the Howard Street corridor, along with construction of a new home for Lexington Market and renovation of the Royal Farms Arena, now called the CFG Bank Arena. “If we could get all three projects going – Lexington Market, Royal Farms Arena and The Compass – you would have a new center of gravity in the traditional downtown business district on the west side,” Tarbert said in a statement posted on the Compass developer’s website.
But the team that Young selected, Westside Partners LLC, missed a June 2 “target” deadline to acquire 18 city-owned parcels needed to move ahead with construction, and one of its members, Landmark Partners, withdrew from the project. During the Downtown Partnership’s annual meeting in September, when speakers touted key projects on the horizon, The Compass wasn’t mentioned at all.
The $100 million project calls for a mix of existing buildings and new construction to contain apartments, offices, a hotel, parking, retail space and other uses. The first phase calls for 262 apartments and 400 parking spaces. The sale price of the land is $4,500,001.
Kim Clark, executive vice president of the BDC, said in July that the target deadline wasn’t the absolute deadline, and that her office was still working with the developers on the acquisition of the parcels. Dan Taylor, managing director of Business and Neighborhood Development for the BDC, said essentially the same thing following a Planning Commission hearing in November. Because it’s in a city historic district, the design must be approved by the city’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP), before any construction can begin, and no recent public hearings have been held on it by that review board.
Christopher Janian, the founder of Vitruvius Co. and a member of the Westside Partners team, said in an email on Dec. 21 that the Compass development recently was awarded $500,000 from the state’s Project C.O.R.E. program (Creating Opportunities for Renewal and Enterprise) to help fund site improvements. “The project is moving forward and we’ve been working on various community, government and institutional partnerships to deliver a highly impactful development,” he said. “There is encouraging momentum in the neighborhood led by the opening of Lexington Market and the impending opening of the CFG Bank Arena by Oak View Group and we’re looking forward to sharing more details about the project’s progress in the coming months.”
Hendler Creamery: On the east side of downtown, part of the façade of the historic Hendler Creamery has stood for several years on a two-block parcel that has otherwise been cleared to make way for a $75 million, 290-unit apartment project called Hendler Creamery.
The developer, Kevin Johnson of The Commercial Group, never moved ahead with construction after the demolition phase. Now a non-profit in the area, Helping Up Mission, has emerged as a potential buyer, with plans to create an “urban green space” on the site, according to The Baltimore Business Journal. As with The Compass, its plan must be approved by Baltimore’s preservation commission before any work can begin.
State Office Complex: Perhaps the ultimate example of behind-the-scenes activity is the Hogan administration’s plan to move 3,300 government employees from the State Office Complex near Bolton Hill to downtown office buildings, filling vacancies there and freeing up land for new development near the State Center Metro station.
Maryland’s Board of Public Works has approved leases that will allow 12 state agencies to move downtown, occupying 934,000 square feet of space in structures stretching from the Candler Building on Market Place to the Metro West office complex on Greene Street. The state also plans to transfer the State Office Complex property to Baltimore City for future development, and the Board of Public Works recently approved a $500,000 grant to Baltimore City to help the city plan the redevelopment. One of the area’s gems is the Fifth Regiment Armory, which has been envisioned for everything from a grocery store to a performing hall.
Visible signs of progress
Baltimore Peninsula: Construction has been underway for more than a year at Baltimore Peninsula, the $5.5 billion, 235-acre “city within a city” in south Baltimore that was previously known as Port Covington. 2023 will be the year when five new buildings open along East Cromwell Street, the main road that runs parallel to the Middle Branch shoreline.
MAG Partners of New York and McFarlane Partners of San Francisco this year replaced the previous lead developer, Weller Development Partners. The new team is now seeking tenants for the buildings that Weller started, including apartments, offices and a Morris Adjmi-designed building with a 45,000-square-foot market and food hall that’s connected to building with office and meeting space. MAG and McFarlane also brought in a new design firm, AtelierTek Architects of New York, to revise the project’s master plan
The first office tenant to sign a lease at Baltimore Peninsula, H. Chambers Company, is an architecture and interior design firm that’s currently at Montgomery Park. Chambers hired J. C. Porter Construction of Lutherville to build out the 9,000-square-foot space it leased at Rye Street Market and expects to take occupancy by spring.
One company that’s leaving the development is Baltimore Sun Media, which opted not to renew its lease at Sun Park, its sprawling white headquarters and former printing plant at 300 E. Cromwell St. Publisher Trif Alatzas told employees this week that the company has leased office space at 200 St. Paul Place and that its new offices will be ready in the first quarter of 2023 – a return to downtown for the reporters and editors previously based at 501 North Calvert Street. One possible new addition to the Baltimore Peninsula project is a 10,000-seat soccer stadium, the subject of a feasibility study by the Maryland Stadium Authority.
Under Armour and Locke Insulators: South of Cromwell Street, not part of the Baltimore Peninsula tract, Under Armour is building its new global headquarters, a 280,000-square-foot midrise that will overlook a multi-purpose track and field facility. West of Under Armour’s property, Mark Sapperstein of 28 Walker Development heads a team that plans to build about 800 residences, including apartments and townhouses, on the 25-acre Locke Insulators property at 2525 Insulator Drive.
Harbor Point: Another hotbed of construction is Harbor Point, the 27-acre mixed use community taking shape on the former Allied Signal property between Harbor East and Fells Point, with the Beatty Development Group as the master developer. In March, T. Rowe Price broke ground for a 550,000-square-foot global headquarters that’s due to open in 2024.
Also under construction are 500 residences in two towers that will rise above a 1,250-space garage; an eight-story, 152-key Residence Inn by Marriott extended-stay hotel and Point Park, a 4.5-acre green space with views out to Fort McHenry and back to the downtown skyline. The developers say the amount of construction activity may make it difficult in 2023 to open a popular seasonal attraction that started in 2017 at Harbor Point, the outdoor “beach bar” and recreation area known as Sandlot.
Office relocations: Currently located at 100 E. Pratt St., T. Rowe Price is part of a wave of companies that are moving from older buildings in Baltimore’s central business district to newer buildings in Harbor East and Harbor Point, where occupants will have “front row” views of the harbor. Other companies that have made or announced moves include Transamerica Corporation; Bank of America; Ernst and Young LLP and the Gordon Feinblatt law firm.
The downside to these moves is that they increase the office vacancy rate in Baltimore’s central business district, forcing owners to backfill spaces that open up. One bright spot about the companies moving from downtown Baltimore to Harbor East or Harbor Point, city officials say, is that they’re at least remaining in Baltimore. Pandora, by contrast, announced plans to move its headquarters from Maryland to New York City. Design Collective, an architecture firm that started in Howard County, is bucking the trend and moved this week from Pier 4 to 100 E. Pratt St., where T. Rowe Price will be moving out.
Office building and hotel conversions: Baltimore is also seeing a trend of older downtown office buildings and hotels undergoing conversion to residences, making downtown more of a residential neighborhood. One Calvert Plaza at Calvert and Baltimore streets; the Fidelity & Deposit Building at Charles and Lexington streets; and the Radisson and Holiday Inn hotel towers on West Fayette Street are among the properties that are becoming residences. Even One Charles Center, the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe landmark that has been put up for sale as part of the real estate portfolio amassed by attorney Peter Angelos, has been mentioned as a candidate for conversion to apartments.
Penn Station: Beatty Development Group and Cross Street Partners are leading the team that’s working with the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, better known as Amtrak, to redevelop historic Pennsylvania Station and the area around it. One of the first phases involves restoring the exterior of Kenneth Murchison’s 1911 train station and creating office space on its upper levels.
Plans also call for construction of a new passenger terminal on the north side of the tracks; upgrades at track level to accommodate Amtrak’s new high-speed trains, and additional development on several parcels around the train station, including the “Lanvale lot” at Charles and Lanvale streets. Jonathan Borofsky’s 51-foot-tall “Male/Female” sculpture, a gift to the city from the Municipal Art Society of Baltimore, is expected to remain where it is, on the plaza in front of the historic train station.
Johns Hopkins: The Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medical institutions are keeping contractors busy with major projects, including the 150,000-square-foot student center rising in place of the Mattin Center on the Homewood campus, a new home for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute on Wyman Park Drive, and a $400 million research tower facing Monument Street on Hopkins’ East Baltimore medical campus.
Hopkins tore down seven 1911 rowhouses at 5 to 19 West 29th Street to make way for a green space and Lee Coyle, Hopkins’ Senior Director of Planning and Architecture, told Charles Village residents that Hopkins most likely will raze the vacant Dell House at 2850 North Charles Street as well. This fall Hopkins shared plans to construct a new building just north of the medical campus that will be named in honor of former patient Henrietta Lacks.
Morgan State University: Enjoying record enrollment figures, Morgan State University opened a 10-story, $95 million 670-bed student housing tower named after Thurgood Marshall, and it plans to add a 604-unit tower by 2024. It has selected Moody Nolan Inc. to lead its design team for a $250 million science complex scheduled to open in 2027.
The university plans to demolish the former Montebello Hospital Complex off Argonne Drive and lease the land for construction of a new, for-profit, private medical school called the Maryland College of Osteopathic Medicine. It also received approval from the city to purchase the former Lake Clifton High School property in and around the 4800 block of St. Lo Drive to create a $1 billion research-oriented “innovation park” and satellite campus. The city agreed to sell the 59-acre campus for $93,652.80; Morgan State’s Lake Clifton development is expected to be built in phases over the next 15 to 20 years.
Research tower: Bio-Park Fremont LLC, an affiliate of Wexford Science and Technology, broke ground at 4 North Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard for an eight-story, 330,997-square-foot, ZGF Architects-designed research facility that will mark a new gateway to the UMB Research and Technology Campus.
Madison Park North: In August, developer David Bramble’s MCB Real Estate; Mark Renbaum’s MLR Partners and Kevin McAndrews’ Atapco Properties broke ground in the 700 block of West North Avenue for the first phase of Madison Park North, containing 120 market-rate residences by Ryan Homes. Later phases of the $100 million initiative along a three-block stretch of North Avenue will include rental apartments and retail space. Besides making progress with Harborplace, Northwood Commons, Madison Park North and Yard 56 near the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Bramble’s company unveiled plans to build market-rate apartments on Harford Road, Druid Park Lake Drive, and St. Paul Street.
Affordable housing: Many blocks of East Baltimore are under construction by developers building housing at a variety of price levels. Projects range from affordable housing consistent with the Perkins Somerset Oldtown Transformation Plan to amenity-rich apartments along the Central Avenue corridor. The activity is a sign that development is moving inland from the waterfront.
Opening in 2023
CFG Bank Arena: One of the first major projects to open in 2023 is the CFG Bank Arena, following a $200 million renovation by the Oak View Group and its partners. The arena will offer seat leases next year as a part of their premium seating options. The operators have promised that the building at 201 West Baltimore Street will be ready for the 2023 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament that’s scheduled to be held there from February 21 to 25. Other bookings so far include concerts by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band; Lizzo; Janet Jackson with Ludacris; Anita Baker and Blink-182.
City House Charles: Developed by Jonathan Pannoni and George Watson IV of Landmark Partners, the eight-story structure at 1001-1103 N. Charles St. replaced the Grand Central nightclub and is Mount Vernon’s first new office building in more than a decade. Baltimore’s liquor board approved a license for a restaurant at street level, and the owners of Roggenart European Bakery, Bistro and Café of Howard County are planning to open a café next to it. Construction of this project destabilized the neighboring historic apartment building at 4 East Eager Street, and it was taken down after city inspectors declared the structure unsafe to occupy.
40TEN Boston: At 4010 Boston Street, 28 Walker Development is completing Baltimore’s first heavy timber office building of the 21st century, a four-story, 97,000-square-foot structure called 40TEN Boston. Designed by Moseley Architects as part of the Collective at Canton community, it’s one of three major buildings in Baltimore that features a structural system built with heavy timber components, rather than concrete or steel, along with the Under Armour headquarters and Hopkins’ student center. One of the tenants will be 28 Walker, which plans to move its headquarters there.
Hippodrome Foundation: The Hippodrome Foundation has begun work on an $18.6 million renovation project that is transforming the 1887 Eutaw Savings Bank building at Eutaw and Fayette streets, adjacent to the Hippodrome Theatre, to a new performance and events space. When complete in 2023, the M&T Bank Pavilion will be able to accommodate a wide range of community events and performances, separate from the Broadway shows at the Hippodrome but still part of the France Merrick Performing Arts Center.
More openings and reopenings in 2022: Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse opened at 3128 Greenmount Avenue. Patagonia unveiled its largest store ever – 15,000 square feet — inside the historic E. J. Codd building at 700 S. Caroline Street. Ma Petite Shoe has a new location at 1001 West 36th Street in Hampden. Giant Food opened at Southside Marketplace in Locust Point, its first new store in the city in more than a decade. The National Aquarium on Pier 3 replaced 684 panes of glass in its pyramid-shaped roof and reopened its Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit. Visit Baltimore reopened the Baltimore Visitor Center at 401 Light St., following its COVID-related closure.
Noteworthy closings: Belle Hardware at 240 McMechen Street in Bolton Hill, closed after nearly 45 years. Price Rite grocery store closed at the Mount Clare Junction shopping center in southwest Baltimore, leaving area residents with few alternatives nearby.
This month, the Maryland Film Festival board announced that it plans to pause film screenings at the Parkway Theatre, the subject of a recent $18 million refurbishment, while it attempts to come up with an operating model that doesn’t lose money.
On the restaurant front: Werner’s Restaurant reopened at 225 East Redwood Street with a new owner, Ray Crum of Pete’s Grille on Greenmount Avenue. At Clipper Mill, chef Spike Gjerde changed Woodberry Kitchen to Woodberry Tavern, with less space for formal dining and more space for catered events. The Atlas Restaurant Group reopened James Joyce Irish Pub in Harbor East.
Café Hon closed after 30 years at 1002 West 36th Street to make way for a new concept by Tony Foreman and Cindy Wolf of the Foreman Wolf Restaurant Group; artist Randall Gornowich is looking for a new home for his giant Pink Flamingosaurus sculpture that was on the front of the building. The Edgar Allan Poe-themed Annabel Lee Tavern went on the market but remains open at 601 S. Clinton Street. The owners of Bertha’s Mussels in Fells Point put their building up for auction but didn’t immediately find a buyer. The Baltimore Banner reported that Bertha’s will reopen “at least for a while.” Owners of The Prime Rib decided to stay in Mount Vernon rather than move to The Village of Cross Keys.
Also in the works: Workshop Development and MCB Real Estate unveiled plans to construct an eight-story apartment building in Charles Village. Workshop, with other partners, also has plans to construct 165 apartments in place of the former Shofer’s furniture warehouse in the 800 block of Leadenhall Street, and 183 apartments at 1300 Bank Street in East Baltimore.
The Segall Group proposed a 155-unit apartment building to replace the Free State Bookbindery at Elm Avenue and 32nd Street in Hampden. Developers Brad and Kemp Byrnes breathed new life into the Vickers Exchange and Garrett buildings on East Redwood Street. A 4,000-seat entertainment venue called The Paramount Baltimore is rising at 1300 Warner Street as part of a district recently named “The Walk at Warner Street.” Christopher Janian said Vitruvius expects to receive building permits in January so construction can start on the six-story, 94-unit apartment development approved for 400 Park Avenue.
Baltimore SquashWise began converting the former Greyhound bus station at 601 North Howard Street to the SquashWise Center for Youth Partnership. The former Landmark Theatres in Harbor East were rebranded as Harbor East Cinemas, with Flagship Premium Cinemas of Boston as the new operator. A food hall is coming to The Mill on North near Coppin State University in west Baltimore. The Area 405 arts hub at 405 East Oliver Street was sold to a limited liability corporation that plans to upgrade it and keep it affordable; the corporation was formed by the Central Baltimore Partnership and real estate developer Ernst Valery. Developer John Renner announced plans to turn the former Stewart & Mowen funeral home at 108 West North Avenue into a mixed-use arts hub called “The Parlor.”
City officials and parks advocates unveiled ambitious plans to add amenities and other improve Druid Hill Park. The producers of Artscape announced plans to return in 2023 and change the festival’s footprint to include more of the Station North arts district. Waverly is hosting a book festival in April. The Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore launched a monthly festival series and unveiled plans for the second phase of its popular Rash Field makeover. The Downtown Partnership won approval from Baltimore’s Planning Commission to mount illuminated signs on certain downtown buildings.
The Orioles moved back the left field wall of Oriole Park by almost 27 feet and raised its height from a little over seven feet to 13 feet, and they had a much better season that they did the year before. They won 83 games in 2022, including 45 at home, compared to winning 52 games in 2021, including 27 at home.
Landmark Partners and Bozzuto Construction began converting the properties at 17 to 23 Gay Street and 10 S. Frederick Street to Guardian House, a 62-unit apartment building with some apartments reserved for “Baltimore City first responders.” Cylburn Arboretum began construction of a $6 million Nature Education Center. The American Visionary Art Museum restored its 55-foot-tall Whirligig by Vollis Simpson, entitled “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” and retired director Rebecca Alban Hoffberger published a sweeping vision for revitalizing Harborplace and bringing more people downtown. Whiting Turner CEO Tim Regan purchased the vacant Target store at Mondawmin Mall with plans to turn it into a community center serving surrounding neighborhoods.
Surprises for 2023: The new year promises to bring more development activity that will add to the momentum. The Ravens are working with the noted sports design firm Populous on plans for another round of improvements to M&T Bank Stadium. Arena Players just received $4 million in federal funds to help renovate its home at 801 McCulloh St., the oldest continually performing and historically African American community theater in the United States.
The University of Baltimore is expected to announce a team to redevelop the former U. S. Postal Service Vehicle Maintenance Facility property at Maryland Avenue and Oliver Street; Zahlco Companies is thought to be a leading contender. A new vision is due for the dormant Gallery at Harborplace shopping mall at Calvert and Pratt streets.
Finally, Maryland Governor-elect Wes Moore has talked about reviving planning for the Red Line, the light rail route that would have linked East Baltimore with West Baltimore but was killed by Governor Larry Hogan. That’s the sort of transformative project that could help connect many of the developments that are already reshaping Baltimore’s urban landscape.