Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Luxury in the Ailing City

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake rushed from the ribbon cutting at the Ivory, Baltimore's most expensive boutique hotel on Calvert Street to the groundbreaking of the Anthem House which promises to become Baltimore's swankiest apartment building yet.

(Anthem, get it, with Fort McHenry nearby? A rendition was provided at the groundbreaking). 

The Mayor called Baltimore the "most invisible economic opportunity in the country".  

Developers Tom and Toby Bozzuto, with Kevin Plank (right)

In a way it is comforting to know that these projects are still going on, both Azola Development and Bozzuto have made valuable contributions to Baltimore's urban life. Yet, there is a feeling of unease not unlike ordering a decadent chocolate cake on the Titanic  after just hearing the rumble of the ship scraping that iceberg.

Tom Bozzuto, keenly aware of this, immediately alluded to this in his speech. 
"This is not a time to turn our back on this city," he said. Instead we stand firm and committed. He also noted his firm's many non profit and affordable housing projects. He took the recent high price sale of Union Wharf as a testament that Baltimore is recognized as an equal. His son Toby, project manager for the project spoke of the choice between creating or destroying and noted architecture as part of creating. 

Scott Plank mentioned how land assembler Solstice had approached him to do a project at the gateway to Locust Point on the former GE site, by many considered to be a brownfield forever. He described Locust Point as  historically "a company town" referring to the past industries such as Proctor and Gamble. In that vein Under Armour will build a fitness center to the Francis Scott Key school. 

Anthem House in Locust Point at Fort Avenue
Bozzuto's apartment buildings offer ample amenities

At any rate, the Anthem house promises to be spectacular. According to the Bozzuto website it will have nine stories and 292 upscale residences with 20,000 square feet of retail, and, always a concern in Baltimore: ample parking. The complex will be branded around a health and wellness lifestyle theme with among other things an acre of green roof and a fitness suite.

Toby Bozzuto who set new apartment design standards first with the Fitzgerald on Mount Royal Avenue and then the Union Wharf complex in Fells Point envisions his latest endeavor as a "world-class gateway to [the] Locust Point waterfront".
According to an earlier BBJ article Bozzuto gears the Anthem house towards empty nesters:
The largest apartments would include two bedrooms and a den, leaving enough space for visiting family members and appealing to people “who want space for their stuff,” Bozzuto President Toby Bozzuto said.
“I think empty nesters are used to living in larger homes than a condo or an apartment, and they often downsize into a condo,” Bozzuto said. “We are seeing an increasing trend — though not a major trend — that some empty nesters are interested in downtown living, and we’re beginning to see that some of those people would like to rent versus buy.
Work is already underway on the site

Bozzuto is a partner with Warhorse, a development company of Scott Plank. Scott is the brother of Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour, who also formed a horse themed development company named Sagamore. Solstice is also a partner and brought the assembled site to the table. 
The architect is Rohid Anand of the KTGY Group in Tysons, VA. 

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

BBJ report of the groundbreaking. 
Baltimore officials call on developers to follow Bozzuto's lead as Locust Point apartment project begins

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