Urban Landscape: Development, Demolition, Dog Parks and More

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Franklin Lofts and Flats
Franklin Lofts and Flats

Baltimore’s newest apartment complex is Franklin Lofts and Flats, a $15 million, 41-unit rental project at 16-20 East Franklin Street and St. Paul Place, just north of the central business district.

Construction fencing has gone up, and preliminary construction is beginning on the conversion of two buildings in the Cathedral Hill National Register historic district.

Plans by Cho Benn Holback + Associates call for 16 E. Franklin Street and the front half of 18-20 E. Franklin Street to be converted to apartments. The low-rise rear portion of 18-20 E. Franklin will be torn down and replaced by a seven-level building with additional apartments and some parking below grade.

Franklin Lofts and Flats rendering
Franklin Lofts and Flats rendering

The combined complex will occupy all of St. Paul Place between Hamilton and Franklin streets. Many of the apartments will overlook Preston Gardens. It will be a noticeable change to the area.

Osprey Property Companies of Annapolis is the developer. Hamel Builders is the general contractor. Berg Corp. is the demolition contractor.

Both buildings are historically significant, but neither falls within any local historic districts overseen by Baltimore’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP). They were surveyed by  CHAP in the mid-1980s.

According to CHAP’s survey, the Classical Revival building at 16 E. Franklin was built around 1900 and is known as the John Q. Lovell House. It was built by Lovell, a career Navy officer, for his wife, Anne Gordon Lovell, on the lot next to her parents’ residence, known as the Margaret J. Bennett Home at 14 E. Franklin Street. Later, the Lovell House was converted for office use.

According to CHAP, the building at 18-20 E. Franklin Street was constructed around 1830 as two townhouses, which were converted to office space and united in the 20th century with a rusticated base and shared entrance. From 1911 until the early 1980s, 18-20 East Franklin was the headquarters of the Consolidated Engineering Company of Baltimore. After Consolidated moved to Fayette Street, it housed the Maryland State Commission on Human Relations. It was on the market for several years before Osprey bought it.

The building is distinguished by its gabled roof with dormer windows and its stepped gable on the east side. Those features will remain with the conversion. Cho Benn Holback was the architect for last year’s restoration of the Basilica of the Assumption’s Rectory on Charles Street, a building that dates from 1829.

Church of the Nativity expands in Timonium

The Roman Catholic Church often gets news coverage when it closes a church. This spring, one Timonium parish is growing.

Leaders of the Church of the Nativity at 20 E. Ridgely Road, broke ground for a $15 million expansion, including a 1,500-seat sanctuary. When complete in 2017, the new sanctuary will replace the current one, which will be used as a chapel and area for children’s programming. According to The Catholic Review and a website about the expansion, nativityvision.tv, the project also includes a new narthex, a café with outdoor seating, and more parking.

Hotel demolition underway

One of Baltimore’s oldest hotels has been torn down to make way for redevelopment. The Franklin-Delphey Hotel, a city landmark, was demolished this month after Baltimore’s preservation commission approved a request from the Baltimore Development Corp. to raze it.

Located at 300 West Franklin Street and 502-504 North Howard Street, the vacant hotel dated from the 1850s and had various names over the years, including Delphey House, the Academy Hotel and the New Academy Hotel. The city acquired it in 1989.

BDC officials say the demolition will help them gain access to the south wall of the city-owned Mayfair Theater, which needs to be stabilized so that the building can be converted to a new use. The development agency is expected to seek proposals from developers for both the former hotel property and the theater as part of its efforts to revitalize the west side of downtown.

Hopkins takes back former US Lacrosse headquarters

Planners at the Johns Hopkins University are not sure what they will do with the former home of US Lacrosse, now that the organization has moved to Sparks. The previous headquarters was designed by GWWO and built in the early 1990s at 113 W. University Parkway, next to Homewood Field. According to Hopkins spokesman Dennis O’Shea, US Lacrosse has until July 1 to turn the building back over to Hopkins, which owns it. “There is no definitive plan for the future of the site,” he said.

Dog Park opens near Mount Vernon and Seton Hill

After more than a year of construction, the Taj Mahal of dog parks has opened at Howard and Centre streets, where a White Tower coffee shop once stood. Howard’s Park Dog Run was created to provide an alternative to the squares of Mount Vernon Place for the growing number of area residents who need a place to walk their dogs.

“It is great for the neighborhood,” area resident Nicholas John wrote on Facebook. “More foot traffic. More eyes in the neighborhood. Neighbors talking to each other. A win for the doggies and Mount Vernon and Seton Hill!”

Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts

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


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