A rendering shows the planned apartment project on Park Avenue.
A rendering of the planned apartment project. Image via Quinn Evans Architects/courtesy of CHAP.

Sitework has begun for Baltimore’s next apartment building, a $30 million, 94-unit development in the 400 block of Park Avenue.

The first phase was partial demolition of five commercial buildings at 406 to 414 Park Ave. The front portions will be retained and incorporated into the new project but the rear sections have been removed to “square off’ the construction site.

The fronts of 406 to 414 Park Ave, which will be retained as part of a planned apartment building. Photo by Ed Gunts.

The demolition work was needed to prepare the site for construction of a six-story apartment structure that will rise at the northwest corner of Park Avenue and Mulberry Street, with five levels of residences over street-level retail space.

The development also includes partial retention and renovation of the former Martick’s Restaurant Francaise, at 214 W. Mulberry St.

The developer is Park Avenue Partners, led by Christopher Janian of Vitruvius Company. Quinn Evans is the architect. The site is within the city’s Howard Street Commercial Historic District.

The team was selected to acquire the parcel after responding to a request for proposals issued by the Baltimore Development Corp. Baltimore’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) approved designs for the apartment portion in June 2019 and for partial retention of the Martick’s building in July 2020. In addition to the apartments, the project will contain about 40,000 square feet of commercial space.

The rear of the buildings at 406 to 414 Park Ave. were demolished as part of a planned apartment building. Photo by Ed Gunts.

Some local preservationists expressed alarm this spring when they saw demolition activity underway at the rear of the Park Avenue structures, which were surrounded by chain link fencing. But the developer is adhering to the designs that CHAP approved, which call for retention of the Park Avenue building fronts, preservation planner Lauren Schisziksaid at a recent CHAP briefing session.

The oldest building on the site is the former Martick’s building, which dates from before the Civil War. It is considered historically significant largely because of its age and its association with Martick’s restaurant, which opened in 1970 and closed in 2008.

Operated by Morris Martick, the restaurant was one of the first places in Baltimore where diners were introduced to French cuisine. During the 1950s and 1960s, the building was home to a jazz club that attracted performers such as Billie Holiday. During the Prohibition era, it reportedly housed a speakeasy.

The south side of 406 Park Ave will be retained and incorporated into the larger development of a planned apartment building. Photo by Ed Gunts.

Quinn Evans’ plan calls for the front third of the Martick’s building to be restored and for the rear two-thirds of the building to be taken down. Part of the roof over the restored section will be removed, so the interior is left open to the elements.

The idea is for the building’s truncated shell to enclose an open-air patio that could be used as outdoor seating for a potential restaurant at the base for the six-story apartment structure, which will wrap around the salvaged Martick’s building.

The development also includes the adaptive reuse of a former Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.  power plant at 409 Tyson St., a later phase of the project. 

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Ed Gunts

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

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