Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bill Struever Re-Emerges

If you have asked yourself what Bill Struever has been up to, today's BBJ has a partial answer.

Bill Struever, innovative and groundbreaking developer of many re-purposed industrial complexes in Baltimore (Tindeco, Canton Cove, The American Can, Clippers Mills, Steiff Silver and Procter and Gamble/Tide Point) and beyond (Wilmington, Durham, Rhode Island) has been out of sight for some time after the Great recession forced him to close his  development and construction companies Struever Brothers, Eccles and Rouse. SBE&R had a phenomenal success trajectory from home repairs from the back of a pick-up truck to a nationally known development company. Bill Struever was then highly visible a a tireless promoter of Baltimore and its future. In 2008 when Lehman Brothers blew up, Struever's loan negotiations went up in flames as well and he had to give up on plans to expand Tide Point (now Under Armour's headquarters), gave up his share at HarborPoint (now fully controlled by Beatty Development) rand walked away from State Center now run by his former employee and COO, Caroline Moore.
Rendering of proposed renovation

Located at 875 Hollins St. in Baltimore, the old Lion Brothers Co. Inc. building is on the National Historic Register. The company, established in 1899, was once the world’s largest manufacturer of embroidered emblems and insignia. It still exists and is now headquartered in nearby Owings Mills.

But Bill Struever isn't one to give up easily and quickly formed Cross Street Partners, a firm with a much lower profile, initially focused on real estate and development consulting, mostly outside Baltimore. Struever, who often named Jim Rouse, the legendary founder of Columbia as his mentor and frequently used quotes he remembered. In Failure he once mentioned this:
"If you succeed at everything that you set out to do, your goals aren't set high enough". (James Rouse)

Per today's Baltimore Business Journal, Bill Struever now returns to his root business, the conversion of old factory buildings into other uses, such as incubators (already tested at the Can Company and Tide Point) or dwellings here in Baltimore.

As I pointed out in yesterday's article about La Cite, the Poppleton area needs investment badly that goes beyond the successful UM Biotech Park on Baltimore Street.  Kevin Litten reports that

"The 37,500-square-foot building was constructed in 1885 as a home to the Lion Bros. embroidery company, according to the Maryland Historic Trust. It's been vacant for more than a decade, but Cross Street Partners wants to change that when the building reopens in the second quarter of 2016".
 The project fits Struever's interest in projects that are related to universities, education and innovation. In 2012 he told the BBJ in an interview:
"I’m most excited about is the work we’re doing around the university-related research parks. I’ve always believed the greatest threats to American democracy are how we deal with issues of our cities, public education first and foremost, race, poverty, economic opportunity. It’s not that there aren’t issues outside of cities. If we can solve them in our cities, our democracy’s good to go for a long time to come. So, it’s really important." 

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