The Lord Baltimore Hotel. Screenshot via Google Maps.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lord Baltimore Hotel became a city-supported shelter for homeless people, providing a safe place to live during a public health crisis.

This year, it’s housing 440 Morgan State students after the university ran short of rooms on campus.

Opened in 1928 and dubbed “One of the Most Haunted Hotels in the United States” by Historic Hotels of America and others due to reported paranormal activity there, it also periodically hosts tours such as one organized by a group called Get Haunted on National Ghost Hunt Day, Sept. 24.

For pivoting to meet public needs while protecting local jobs and having a sense of humor about it, the hotel at 20 W. Baltimore St. and general manager Onahlea Shimunek are being honored by the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore with its 2022 Downtown Innovation Award, one of five awards the organization’s leaders will hand out at their annual meeting Thursday night.

Owned by Rubell Hotels, the Lord Baltimore is being recognized for taking a “transformative approach to business” that has helped it “weather the lasting impacts of the [COVID-19] pandemic, saved local jobs, and created transformative public and private partnerships,” the Downtown Partnership states on its website. “This historic hotel is more than a place to rest your head; it’s become a beacon for community in Downtown.”

The Downtown Partnership will hold its annual meeting Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the plaza of 100 Light St. with the building’s owner, Corporate Office Properties Trust, as the presenting sponsor. Other award recipients are:

Lexington Market: The team behind the transformation of Lexington Market, which will open a new market building this fall, is the 2022 Downtown President’s Award winner.

“Lexington Market Corporation has led the charge with the development of the new shed while honoring the traditions of the incomparable and historic Lexington Market,” the organization states on its website.

“Their selection of Seawall to lead development catapulted the project as they have been a committed and driving partner, helping to deliver the world-class market we know Lexington Market can be. The team’s commitment to community outreach and equitable retail attraction, led by Pickett Slater Harrington, is on its way to opening this fall with more than 50 percent minority-owned and women-owned businesses, representing Baltimore City in a way that we can all be truly proud of.”

Edwin Brake and Ellin & Tucker, will receive the Revitalization Award, which goes to a stakeholder that is “heavily contributing to the future success of Downtown Baltimore.” The accounting firm is based at 400 E. Pratt St.

“The commitment that Ellin & Tucker have shown Downtown Baltimore for 70 years is still going strong,” the partnership states. Managing director and CEO “Ed Brake and his team believe in investing outside of their four walls. In just the past year, they have invested in safety improvements in and around [the] 400 E. Pratt Street block and been a fierce supporter of events and promotions, including the Baltimore by Baltimore series” of waterfront festivals.

Dr. Kyla Liggett-Creel, an associate clinical professor from the School of Social Work at the University of Maryland Baltimore, will receive the 2022 Downtown Leadership Award, “in recognition of her grassroots efforts in the areas of social and economic matters.”

LIVEbe [Live Beyond] Communities, the residential division of Berman Enterprises, owners of the 2 Hopkins Plaza apartment tower, has been chosen to receive the 2022 Downtown Baltimore Clean & Green Award “in recognition of its efforts to go above and beyond” in the maintenance of 2 Hopkins Plaza.

“The company’s commitment to making Downtown Baltimore cleaner and safer makes a noticeable difference in the streetscape surrounding the property, with new trees, improved sidewalks, and the addition of public art,” the Downtown Partnership says.

50 apartments proposed for South Baltimore

A rendering shows the South Baltimore apartment project. Rendering by PI.Kl Studio. Photo by Ed Gunts.

Mark Sapperstein of 28 Walker Development this week presented preliminary plans for his latest project, 50 apartments on three levels above an existing four-level garage in the 1200 block of Wall Street, south of Federal Hill.

In an informational meeting on Zoom that was organized by the Federal Hill South Neighborhood Association (FHSNA) and drew more than 80 participants, Sapperstein said the apartments would rise above the garage, some with balconies or decks. He said no apartment would have more than one bedroom and each apartment would have access to one parking space in the garage. PI.KL Studio, headed by Pavlina Ilieva and Kuo Pao Lian, is the architect.

Residents voiced concerns about a variety of issues, including the project’s potential impact on the surrounding area in terms of views, light, air, noise and parking. Both Sapperstein and FHSNA president Meg Murray said the presentation was a starting point for discussions and promised more community meetings.

Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake moving to Baltimore Gateway; its current location will become a school called The Excel Center

Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake, Inc. is relocating their headquarters to the Baltimore Gateway office building at 3700 Koppers St. Photo courtesy of St. John Properties.

Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake, Inc. has selected Baltimore Gateway, a five-story, 100,000 square foot commercial office building at 3700 Koppers St. in Baltimore City, as the site of its new headquarters, and its current home at 222 E. Redwood St. will become a school for adults called The Excel Center.

Goodwill signed a lease with St. John Properties, Inc. for 14,662 square feet of space at Baltimore Gateway and plans to move 40 employees there from its current location on Redwood Street by next month. Michael Tait of St. John Properties represented the landlord and Goodwill was self-represented in the transaction.

The current home of Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake, Inc. at 222 E. Redwood St. will become a school for adults called The Excel Center. Photo by Ed Gunts.

Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake, Inc. provides job training, job placement and other human services for people who are unemployed or face other challenges to employment, including people with disabilities. Last year, Goodwill provided employment services to more than 2,500 individuals. Revenue generated from the sale of donated goods helps fund these programs. The organization has operated in Central Maryland and the Eastern Shore for more than 100 years.

According to Larry Lichtenauer of Lawrence Howard & Associates, a representative for St. John Properties, the Baltimore Gateway location will house most of Goodwill Industries’ administrative and leadership team, and the move will free up space at 222 East Redwood Street for The Excel Center to open in the fall of 2023. The Excel Center is a tuition-free high school that’s designed for adults 21 years of age and older, and it will provide competency-based high school curriculum with embedded job training.

“Our expanded offices at Baltimore Gateway will allow us to open The Excel Center in Baltimore’s Business District, while keeping our administrative staff in Baltimore City,” explained Lisa Rusyniak, President & CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake, in a statement. At Baltimore Gateway, “the footprint of the building allows our team to work on the same floor, and the strategic location off Interstates 695 and 95 provides us immediate access to our network throughout Maryland.”

St. John Properties executed a top-to-bottom renovation of the Koppers Street property that included a complete modernization of the lobby and common areas, the installation of a new HVAC system, energy-efficient windows and three new high-speed elevators, as well as a state-of-the-art tenant fitness center. The $8 million investment also included the construction of an LED pylon sign with a 200-square-foot message board that’s visible to the more than 200,000 vehicles that pass the site every day. Baltimore Gateway earned LEED Gold Core and Shell Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Founded in 1971, St. John Properties, Inc. has developed more than 22 million square feet of flex/R&D, office, retail, warehouse space, and it has investments in more than 2,600 residential units. In addition to Maryland, it has clients in Colorado, Louisiana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Utah, and Wisconsin.

“Our capital investment strategy has been validated at Baltimore Gateway, as the combination of quality commercial office space, a high-profile and visible location from Interstate 95 and on-site amenities have attracted multiple new clients, including Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake,” said Matt Lenihan, Senior Vice President of Leasing for St. John Properties, in a statement. “With the addition of Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake, Baltimore Gateway now stands at approximately 95 percent occupied.”

‘Stop the Road’ book launch in Fells Point

The cover for E. Evans Paull’s book “Stop the Road: Stories from the Trenches of Baltimore’s Road Wars.”

Urban development expert and former city planner E. Evans Paull is having a book launch at the Fells Point Fun Festival this weekend for “Stop the Road: Stories from the Trenches of Baltimore’s Road Wars,” an “up close and personal account of Baltimore’s 40-year battle over expressways plans” that would have decimated communities such as Fells Point and Federal Hill.

The book launch is ‘timely and appropriate, because the first Fun Fest, held on October 8, 1967 (55 years ago) is where the cause of saving Fell’s Point started to hit paydirt,” Paull said in a statement.

Besides having a booth at the Fun Fest, which runs from September 30 to October 1 in Fells Point, Paull will take part in two “author talks” at the Robert Long House garden, 812 South Ann Street, on Saturday and Sunday at 4 p.m. both days. He will be joined at the talks by Art Cohen, the second president of Movement Against Destruction. Published by Boyle & Dalton, Paull’s 353-page book is also available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Crystal Moll wins Grand Prize in Plein Air painting competition

Baltimore artist Crystal Moll painted this piece, “Marquis de Lafayette Rides in Mount Vernon.” The painting won the grand prize on Sunday in the 2022 Mount Vernon Place Plein Air Art Show. Painting by Crystal Moll.

Baltimore artist Crystal Moll won the grand prize on Sunday in the 2022 Mount Vernon Place Plein Air Art Show for her painting, “Marquis de Lafayette Rides in Mount Vernon.”

The exhibit featured entries from 33 members of the Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association, all painted in and around Mount Vernon Place in 2022.

Lance Humphries and Robert Quilter were judges for the event, held at the Garrett Jacobs Mansion and hosted by the Garrett Jacobs Mansion Endowment Fund; The Engineers Club; Mount Vernon Place Conservancy and Baltimore Heritage.

Fifteen awards were given out for categories ranging from architecture and historic preservation to paintings of the Flower Mart, the Mount Vernon Club and the Washington Monument. Michael Kotarba won this year’s Audience Choice Award.

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Ed Gunts

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