Remington’s hot real estate market is getting hotter, with several major developments in the works.
The City of Baltimore announced Friday that it is seeking proposals for a new location for the Sisson Street Sanitation Yard and Citizen Drop Off Center at 2840 and 2842 Sisson Street (AKA the Northwest Citizen’s Convenience Center, AKA “The Dump.”)
The public offering is the first step in making 5.6 acres available for private development on the western edge of Remington. It is also one of the first major land offerings since Eric Evans replaced Andy Frank as the city’s Real Estate Officer.
City officials have indicated they won’t entertain proposals for redevelopment of the prime Sisson Street property until they find a suitable location to relocate the Drop Off Center. Once they know when and where they can move the Sanitation Yard and Drop Off Center, they say, they will seek proposals for its current location.
Friday’s RFP is solely about finding a location to move the Sisson Street sanitation yard to free up land for development. It is not a request for development proposals for the Sisson Street property, which remains open as a sanitation yard and drop off center for bulk trash.
The property is being offered by the Department of Real Estate in partnership with the Department of Public Works and the Mayor’s Office of Infrastructure Development. Aug. 11 at 4 p.m. is the deadline for proposals.
According to an announcement from City Comptroller Bill Henry, who oversees the city’s real estate department:
Sites must be “in close proximity” to the existing Sisson Street transfer station.
Potential sites must be zoned and currently used as industrial property with at least seven “usable and accessible” acres.
Access and close proximity to Interstate 83 “is essential,” and the city would prefer at least two access points to the site.
Access routes must be able to accommodate “commercial/heavy equipment/heavy truck traffic.”
No portion of the site can be in a flood plain.
The site cannot be adjacent to a residential community.
The current Drop Off Center site is 5.643 acres on the west side of Sisson Street, between 28th and 29th streets. More information about how and where to submit proposals is on the Comptroller’s website at comptroller.baltimorecity.gov.
Seawall envisions a grocery store
One company with strong interest in redeveloping the Sisson Street Drop Off Center property is Seawall, an organization that has completed other projects in Remington and has worked closely with the community.
Seawall and a development partner, Blank Slate, unveiled preliminary plans in May for a mixed-use development called Sisson East, which would be constructed across the street from the Drop Off Center in the area bounded roughly by 28th Street on the south, Sisson Street on the west, 29th Street on the north and Hampden Avenue on the east.
Plans by BCT Design Group and Mahan Rykiel call for about 200 apartments; 140,000 square feet of office space; 50,000 square feet of retail space and a garage for 470 cars and 47 bikes. Seawall would preserve two structures along Remington Avenue and raze others to make way for new construction. The Burger King at Sisson and 29th streets is not part of the development. Seawall is scheduled to meet with the city’s Urban Design and Architecture Advisory Panel on Aug. 3 for a second design review session focusing on the Sisson East project.
The city’s 5.6-acre Drop Off Center property would be a logical place for an extension of the Sisson East development, and Seawall has expressed interest in it in the past. During a meeting this week with the Land Use Committee of the Greater Remington Improvement Association (GRIA), Seawall co-founder and partner Thibault Manekin said he knows the city wants to find a place to move the Drop Off Center before it will consider proposals for the Sisson Street property. He said the message from city officials has been that the relocation site must be near where the current location is.
“It’s that if the dump moves, it can’t be moved into another community, especially a poor community of color, and so we are really clear what the criteria is,” he said.
Manekin said he’s optimistic that a solution can be found.
“I think we’re getting really close,” he said. “But we’re not really focused on that…side [of Sisson Street] until we can figure out if and where the dump is going to move. Once that happens, then we’re going to start the planning.”
He said he believes the drop-off site would be a good location for a full-service grocery store.
“It’s really our goal to put a grocery store there,” he said. “We think it’s a great spot for it. But we can’t really start those conversations in earnest until we make more progress with the dump.”
Geoff Shannon, the public relations officer for the Comptroller’s Office, confirmed that the city’s goal is to select a developer for the Drop Off Center property after officials have identified a new location for the Sanitation Yard and Drop Off Center.
Shannon said the Baltimore Development Corporation in 2019 issued a request for proposals from groups interested in redeveloping the Sisson Street property before having a plan for moving the Drop Off Center, and nothing came from that. He said the Comptroller’s Office is following a two-step process so city officials will know where the Drop Off Center will move before they focus on how the current Drop Off Center property might be redeveloped. He said any time frame for relocating the Drop Off Center and seeking a developer for Sisson Street will be determined by the response to the RFP issued this week. For now, officials say, the Drop Off Center remains open to the public as usual.
Apartments planned for 7-Eleven property on 28th Street
During his meeting with the GRIA land use committee this week, Manekin outlined plans for another property that Seawall owns, a triangular parcel bounded by 28th Street and Cresmont and Remington avenues. The site is currently occupied by a 7-Eleven store at 211 West 28th Street and a public space that contains the community’s “R” sculpture.
Manekin said 7-Eleven’s lease will expire in about 18 months for the building on 28th Street and his company would like to redevelop the property by tearing down the store and building a structure containing apartments on the upper levels and street-level commercial space opening onto a public park or plaza. The land is just east of Seawall’s five-story, 108-unit Remington Row development at 2700 Remington Ave.
“We’ve been thinking about building a new building here that would provide a little bit of a mirrored experience to what’s at Remington Row, with street-level retail [and] apartments up above,” Manekin told the land use committee. “It’s a fairly small building. It feels like it’s somewhere between maybe 60 or 70 apartments or so. We’re still figuring that out.”
The apartments would be built on the northern two-thirds of the triangle. Plans don’t include a parking garage. Manekin said the southern third, where the ‘R’ sculpture now stands, would be developed as “outdoor park space…redone without concrete and maybe a little bit more of a permanent feel to it.”
Manekin said Seawall is in the early stages of planning the new development and hasn’t started designing a building yet. As part of the planning, he said, Seawall is preparing to ask the city to sell a 12-foot-wide sliver of land it owns along Remington Avenue, to enlarge the development site, and he would like the GRIA to send a letter to the city supporting that request.
Manekin said the redeveloped property would continue to have a sidewalk along Remington Avenue and Seawall would work with the community to finalize plans for the western edge of the property and the open space on the south end. He said Seawall is aiming to complete design work and obtain building permits from the city in time to begin construction in early 2025.
In response, the land use committee members voted to forward Seawall’s request for a supportive letter about the right of way to the full GRIA board, which would make a final decision on sending a letter to the city.
Discussions about retaining 7-Eleven
During the meeting, committee members asked Manekin whether Seawall’s proposed development would contain space for 7-Eleven to return. They said many Remington residents count on having a convenience store such as 7-Eleven in the area.
“The 7-Eleven is a pretty important resource for a lot of lower-income people,” said committee member Craig Bettenhausen. “Beyond that, it’s the only place in the neighborhood that you can get a cup of mediocre coffee for $1. I’d hate to see them go for that reason, because it is also one of the only 24-hour places, places that people have gotten shelter from aggressive behavior…I do hope that something like the 7-Eleven ends up in the final plan.”
Manekin said Seawall has had discussions with 7-Eleven representatives about making 7-Eleven part of the new development, and the company is interested. He indicated that the company would not have the same amount of surface parking as it does now.
“We are talking to them about staying,” he said. “They would like to stay. So we are talking about them having one of the corner spots…A little bit of that will be out of our hands. I don’t know where they’re going to come in on parking. They love this space because it’s so easy to park. This isn’t as high a density of a neighborhood as Harbor East, where you might see a lot of people walking around. But they do seem pretty committed to staying.”
A committee member asked about parking availability for the apartment residents. Jed Weeks, chair of the land use committee, said the city’s zoning code doesn’t require a building on the site to include a parking garage and noted that Remington Row has a garage on the next block. Weeks said in an email message after the meeting that Seawall intends to keep the ‘R’ sculpture at its current location and incorporate it into the larger park or plaza it plans to create on the property.
Manekin said Seawall also wants to acquire about 2,000 square feet of city-owned property on the east side of R House, at 301 W. 29th St. The property is part of the public realm in front of R House and includes an elevated concrete patio and “planter boxes.” Manekin said no changes to the property are planned but Seawall wouldn’t have to pay rent to the city if it could acquire the property. The land use committee also voted to forward Seawall’s request for a letter endorsing that acquisition to the full GRIA board to consider.
Preservation along Sisson Street
A land use committee member asked Manekin why he wants to preserve the two buildings on the east side of Sisson Street, the Swirnow building on the corner at 2801 Sisson St. and the Overstock Outlet warehouse in the middle of the block at 2811 Sisson St.
Manekin said he especially likes the setback portion of the Overstock Outlet building and that its exterior doesn’t indicate how unusual it is on the inside.
“It’s a rad building,” he said. “If you haven’t been inside, it’s like 14-foot-high exposed wood beam ceilings, column-less space, big garage doors that roll up. It’s very, very cool. I love that building. So the plan is to keep those two buildings and the rest, the nondescript warehouses…would come down.”
Stieff Silver Building
Just north of Remington, the historic Stieff Silver Building at 600 Wyman Park Drive is getting new occupants. GWWO, an architecture firm, moved out of the third-floor last month to new offices at McHenry Row in Locust Point. The Johns Hopkins University, which owns the building, plans to occupy the space vacated by GWWO, according to Jill Rosen, director of media relations. Hopkins’ Whiting School of Engineering already has space at that location.
Hampden development parcel under contract
Another development parcel in Hampden is under contract. The fenced-in lot at Falls Road and 38th Street, just south of Wishbone Reserve, was listed for sale by Guerilla / Realty and is zoned for multi-family development. It’s on the same block where Effect Inc. plans to construct a 28-unit apartment building in place of the vacant houses at 3815, 3817, 3819 and 3821 Falls Road.
Rachel Rabinowitz, the broker and owner of Guerilla / Realty, declined to say who the buyer is. She described the buyer as a “local small developer” and said in an email message that she believes the buyer wants to construct a mixed-use apartment building. Rabinowitz said Guerilla had plans to develop the parcel but decided to concentrate its efforts on a larger project in Towson. She said the sale is expected to close at the end of this month.
Wine Source parking project moves ahead
A plan to create a 10-space parking lot for The Wine Source at 3601 Elm Avenue is moving ahead, after the Baltimore City Council’s Economic and Community Development Committee voted to approve a council bill that would permit store owner David Wells to tear down two houses at 3618 and 3620 Elm Ave. and create a parking lot as a conditional use for the property. The bill passed second reader last month and is scheduled for a final vote by the full council on July 17.
Souvlaki restaurant expansion
Souvlaki Greek Cuisine is getting close to completing its expansion from 1103 W. 36th St. into the former Philly’s Best & Grill of Hampden sub and pizza shop on the corner at 1101 W. 36th St.
The corner building was featured in the 1998 John Waters movie “Pecker” as The Sub Pit, where the title character was employed. Workers this week have been painting the corner building and installing a sign to mark a new entrance to the expanded restaurant. Souvlaki’s target for completing the expansion is the end of August.
Historic church for sale
The former St. Mary’s Protestant Episcopal Church at 3900 Roland Ave. has been listed for sale with Lizzy Sweeney and Michael Denise of Cushman & Wakefield. The seller is the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. The building dates from the 1860s and has 14,030 square feet of space on two levels plus 30 parking spaces, according to the listing. The entire parcel is more than one acre, zoned R-6.
This is the second dormant church on Roland Avenue to go on the market this year, along with the former Roland Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church at 4001 Roland Ave., listed with Cindy Conklin and Brandon Golueke of Monumental Sotheby’s International Realty.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify that the land use committee did not send the letters, rather it forwarded Seawall’s request for a letter to the full community association board to consider sending a letter.