Thursday, June 11, 2015

Chambers Building on Charles Street: Demolition and then what?

Baltimore has a rich experience with projects that were promised and then not delivered. This history is accompanied by a slew of surface parking lots in lieu of the historic structures that were demolished on account of the wonderful new things that were promised but never materialized.
The rear view from Morton Street.

We lost landmarks like the Southern Hotel, the News American and the McCormick Spice company this way, all of which yet again lure with proposed development. At the Mechanic Theater demolition is still in progress and it remains unclear if we will see another parking lot here or actually proceed straight to new construction
The Chambers Building as seen from Charles Street

The latest in the row of demolitions with murky prospects is the Chambers Building in the 1000 block of N. Charles Street, very near where the Hippo is supposed to become a CVS. The building's name derives from Howard Chambers who had owned the building and sold it when a 35 apartment project couldn't get funding.

The owner of the building owns also the adjacent forever parking lot (who recalls what was once on it?) and is nobody less than Kingdon Gould, a man one could call a "gravel mogul" who has promised forever the new town of Konterra south of Laurel on the lands of his extensive gravel pit land holdings. If you don't know Konterra, you are not alone, this new town did not yet materialize although it has been on the map at least since 1990.

With such an owner, we can't wait to see what will happen on Charles Street, where the man owns not only one but two larger properties.

In the meantime, if you care, make your voices heard to Planning, BDC and the Downtown Partnership so we will look at something nicer than an extended parking lot here.

It doesn't help that the new zoning code is still not in effect. If all goes well, it will have provisions about demolition and surface lots, which will make them a prohibited use.

Thanks to Facebook comments from friends I have this additional information: 

  • Previous design by Parameter/ Chris Pfaeffle that incorporated the existing building.
  • Chambers, the interior design firm. (Link).
  • The architect of the current building to be demolished was Charles Richter. Ed Gunts reported on the occasion of CHAP considering the demolition on Oct 8, 2007:

Distinguished by a series of arched openings, the brick building was designed by Charles Richter, architect of the Peabody Library and the Lyric Opera House's 1980s lobby and Mount Royal Avenue facade, and constructed in 1964.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA
photos: ArchPlan Inc.

BBJ article 2014 about the site
the detailed history can be seen in Ed Gunts" Baltimore Brew Story

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