For years, a massive car repair shop sat dormant and awaiting redevelopment near the south Baltimore waterfront, part of a “proposed $110 million aquatic life center that never materialized. But now the building is finally getting recycled for a different use—a 21st century “maker space” where activities will range from 3D printing and shoe design to glass blowing and blacksmithing.
The garage conversion is one of several projects underway by Sagamore Development, the real estate arm of Kevin Plank, CEO of the Baltimore-based sportswear giant Under Armour. Sagamore and its affiliates have acquired 230 acres in South Baltimore to build a new headquarters for Under Armour.
The team wants to create an urban waterfront campus that will mix office and manufacturing spaces with housing, recreational areas, commercial space, and even a whiskey distillery called Sagamore Spirit. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson of Philadelphia is the master planner for the multi-phase project, which is expected to cost well over $1 billion.
But Under Armour is not the only company in town raising eyebrows with a billion-dollar development project. Cranes are filling the Baltimore sky like never before.
Around the city, there are no fewer than six projects by single-developer teams that are each expected to represent investments of more than $1 billion. (A seventh is just outside the city limits on the former Bethlehem Steel Corp. steel mill site at Sparrows Point.)
All of these were in the works before the civil unrest in late April following the death of West Baltimore resident Freddie Gray, who died after suffering injuries while in police custody. At least one of these projects has actually grown in scope since the spring.
“While some might expect that the recent unrest had a chilling effect on development, Baltimore has experienced the exact opposite—developers are working with a sense of urgency and resolve to ‘build it now,’” said William H. Cole, president and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corp., a quasi-public agency that oversees development citywide. “That type of resolve is encouraging and hopefully will lead to a more successful future for all residents in Baltimore City.”
Developers say their projects are moving ahead because most were so far along in the pipeline—with funding sources in place—that the riots didn’t stop them. They also note that the mega-developments are mostly in East or South Baltimore, miles away from the epicenter of the civil unrest, a poor section of West Baltimore known as Sandtown.
Three of the billion-dollar projects represent the continued march of development eastward from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor renewal area, where redevelopment began in the 1960s.
Harbor East: This mini-city of hotels, condominiums, offices, and shops is located just east of the Inner Harbor. Stan Eckstut, then with Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut & Kuhn of New York, along with Cho Benn Holback + Associates of Baltimore, provided the original master plan. The developer is Baltimore baker John Paterakis’ H&S Properties. One of the latest projects is an addition to the Four Seasons Hotel that will contain condominium residences. Beatty Harvey Coco is the architect.
Harbor Point: A mixed-use community sits on the site of the former AlliedSignal chromium plant, a Superfund property that has been cleaned up and capped for redevelopment. Ayers Saint Gross provided the master plan for Beatty Development.
The Waterfront at Canton Crossing: This mixed-use community will be on a former industrial site farther east in Canton that includes more than two million square feet of office and retail space, a residential tower up to 40 stories high, a 200 slip marina, recreational open space, and 7000 parking spaces. Elkus Manfredi Architects of Boston is the master planner for Corporate Office Properties Trust of Columbia, Maryland. Architect David Manfredi says the eastward march of development along Baltimore’s waterfront—which is turning Baltimore from a compact urban center into a linear city—is “kind of manifest destiny.”
Health care and medical research are also driving three other billion-dollar projects.
Johns Hopkins Hospital Expansion: Completed in 2012 for $1.1 billion, Johns Hopkins Medicine expanded its existing hospital to included a 12-story adult care tower and a 12-story children’s tower, both designed by Perkins + Will, following a master plan by Cooper, Robertson & Partners. Hopkins is now renovating nearly a dozen buildings that were fully or partially vacated when their occupants moved to the new towers, in a $250 million, 300,000-square-foot “back-fill” project that is one of the largest adaptive reuse projects in the country.
Science + Technology Park at Johns Hopkins: North of Hopkins’ medical campus, Forest City Enterprises and the New East Baltimore Partnership are building this 31-acre community with research labs, offices, a hotel, and commercial space around a central park. Sasaki Associates prepared the master plan.
University of Maryland BioPark: Another fast growing hub of research labs and medical facilities on the west side of downtown.
Sparrows Point redevelopment: The biggest project in terms of acreage, James C. Davis and Redwood Capital Investments are transforming the former Sparrows Point property, which, in its heyday during the 1950s and 1960s, was the largest steel mill in the world. With roughly 3,000 acres, it is expected to become one of the largest commercial developments on the East Coast.