Tuesday, April 7, 2015

New Life for the Westside?

Block 563 in its current state as seen from the west. On the left edge of the
image one can see the redeveloped 520 Park building, in the center
block 563 with the Howard Street facades exposed
Just about a year ago the Baltimore Development Corporation issued a solicitation for architectural services:

Request for Fee Proposals from Architects to prepare plan for Redevelopment of Block 563 properties
BDC requests fee proposal to;
 Conduct preliminary site analysis that addresses traffic patterns, infrastructure and utility availability, zoning, and current and planned development activities on neighboring blocks, historic conditions, and
 Prepare concept design plans including site plans, massing, and
 Prepare rendered concept plan, and
 Assist BDC in discussions with MHT and CHAP to gain approval and consent for development plan.
As the Baltimore Business Journal reports this morning, the selected firm, Murphy Dittenhafer, made its plans public. The Baltimore architecture firm went quite a bit beyond massing proposals and presented actual designs for the block that may have been the most known for Martick's, the famous speak-easy become French restaurant on Mulberry Street, unlabeled and known only to the cognoscenti. Martick's closed a few years back when the owner died. The building remains in private hand and is not part of the proposals for the city owned properties.

Block 563 for which the design proposal was prepared
The plans are strictly advisory to BDC and any future developer BDC may select for development of this block. The block is the one of the most decrepit blocks on the Westside and presents a critical link to the much healthier area north of Franklin Street which real estate agents and investors like to call Mt Vernon although the blocks up to Center Street are still part of the Westside. Most recently Park 520 was completed there, a warehouse conversion to apartments designed by Marks Thomas Architects.

The Murphy Dittenhafer proposal seen from the northeast (Franklin Street
in the front)

 Murphy Dittenhafer wisely included the not city owned surface parking lot on Park and Franklin in their proposal, even though it was excluded in the RFP.

One of the more difficult aspects of this block is the re-use of a large brick warehouse structure in the center of the block, accessible only from Tyson Street, more an alley, really. Murphy Dittenhafer added floors and suggests a gussied up northeast corner, making the presently pretty dull building presentable.
This aerial view shows the block from the south with the hulking
brick warehouse in the center and the abandoned old parking
garage on the southeast corner

"The plan is only conceptual and is not tied to a developer, but it's the most comprehensive full-block redevelopment proposal seen on downtown's west side since the Superblock. Plans released late Monday by the firm Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects show a mixed-use redevelopment driven by residential units that will cover 2.5 acres and preserve 15 historic buildings along Howard Street, Franklin Street and Park Avenue." (BBJ)

This view shows the proposed redevelopment with Howard Street in the
 The block 563 plans are part of a entire flurry of activities recently coming out of BDC, including the renovation of Lexington Market and the redevelopment of properties straight across Howard Street from block 563, proposed as a theater venue by developer Ted Rouse who is currently negotiating with BDC a Land Development Agreement (LDA). A bit west on Franklin Street, in the 500 block, student housing in a former nursing home is currently under construction.

As one who has worked in and on the Westside for over 20 years, I can't wait to see the area finally breaking free.

This building is a fairly far developed design and massing proposal for
the lot currently occupied by the abandoned parking garage on Mulberry Street

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

Correction: I was fooled by the graphics: The corner surface lot was NOT included in the proposed development but carefully concealed in the model shots as Fred Scharmen noted in his Facebook comment:
This could be a good plan, but why put surface parking on a corner, then use the camera angle and a foreground building to hide it?
**Edit: that parcel has another owner and wasn't in the scope of the design**.
I stand corrected. (4/8/15)

ArchPlan with Harris Kupfer Architects had submitted a service proposal for block 563.
PMS Development has been selected by BDC as the developer for for the 400 block of Mulberry Street for market rate housing. ArchPlan together with Cho Benn Holback will be the architects

No comments:

Post a Comment