Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Clipper Mill: Additional development plans revealed

Tonight the Clipper Mill and Woodberry communities will hear about two additional projects on the Clipper Mill campus. Here some details about the projects:

Clipper Mill history 
The 17.5 acre $88 million transformation of a defunct industrial site dating back to 1850 into a model of historic preservation, sustainability (including the nations presumably first green wall) and transit oriented development (TOD) opened in 2006 under the name Clipper Mill. By all accounts, the redevelopment was a huge success. 13 years later, its restaurants, studios, offices and residences form a vibrant community that has become a regional destination and a must see demonstration of authentic redevelopment of brownfields in an industrial legacy city.
Clipper Mill site plan (Cho, Benn Holback Architects)
The Urban Land Institute published the development as a successful case study. ULI described the Clipper Mill development this way:
[...] a long underused 17.5-acre (7.1-ha) site that once housed Maryland’s largest and most productive machine manufacturing complex into a vibrant, mixed-use community. The development team reused the 1853 historic site and its five deteriorating buildings to create 61,500 square feet of office space, 47,500 square feet of studio space for artists and craftspeople, and a wide range of housing, including 34 townhouses, 38 semidetached houses, and 62 condominium and 36 rental apartments. [...] Clipper Mill is a transit-oriented community that integrates many elements of sustainable development. It offers a unique sense of place that is created in part by the preservation of the site’s history and the incorporation of the work of resident craftspeople into the project’s design. [...] SBER wanted to provide safe, code-compliant, and affordable studio space for resident artists; preserve the charm of the historically significant site, which contained five buildings in varying states of disrepair and convert the complex into a viable mixed-use community that would attract families from outside the city of Baltimore. Its goal was not just to rehabilitate the property but also to inspire the neighborhood.
Valstone Partners' proposed projects

However, the original planned unit development was never completed. The financial crisis and the downfall of the developer, Struever Bros. Eccles and Rouse intervened. Eventually SBE&R offloaded their development and in 2009 parts fell into foreclosure. In 2017 ValStone Partners, a Michigan-based private equity investment firm, bought the commercial buildings and properties of the Woodberry site and began planning for the remaining gaps. A preliminary study that investigated what could be done on the undeveloped lots  showed hundreds of new apartments, a potential coffee shop and sandwich place, small offices and parking garages. The new density brought neighbors and Woodberry residents out en masse to discuss and question what Valstone proposed. Existing residents and neighbors were especially opposed to repealing the 2003 Planned Unit Development Plan (PUD) in favor of more density.
Aerial of the Clipper Mill site with a view of the Tractor Building
(Photo: Baltimore SUN)

This Tuesday the community will receive an update presented by Caroline Paff, a principal at VI Development, which is shepherding the entitlements for ValStone. The proposed development is limited to just two sites (The Tractor Building and the Poole & Hunt parking lot at 2001 Druid Park Drive. The density and uses are based on the the existing 2003 PUD, even though the underlying zoning was changed as part of the new City zoning code to be a TOD-2, a zoning category that favors density around transit stations. The proposed projects are further developed from the feasibility study presented in 2018, done by Marren Architects who are also retained to be the architect for the Tractor Building in concert with Design Collective. The designers for the townhomes will be BCT architects. Valstone selected two developers as partners for the two projects, Commercial Development for the Tractor Building and Garver Development Group for the townhomes. The sites will be subdivided from the rest of the Valstone holdings.
Valstone considers the properties in Clipper Mill long term investments. [..] Valstone understands the significance of the clipper mill aesthetic and is prepared to invest in a plan that preserves the tractor building. The plan is keep the building and remove the old roof and rear wall to enable redevelopment (Paff)
No use of historic tax credits or any other public funds is planned, Ms Paff told Community Architect Daily upon request.
Potential Valstone development parcels in green
(Site plan as shown at 2018 meeting)

The development plans foresee approximately 99 apartment units, between 140 – 155 parking spaces, and a small amount of street level commercial space for a 6 story tall redevelopment of the Tractor building with one level of below grade parking. For the Poole & Hunt lot 48 rental 2-3 bedroom townhouses are envisioned, three and four stories high. The total square footage is to be about 48,000 s.f. The proposed developments are far less than the 336 units that were discussed in prior meetings, but they also do not include all potential development parcels.

VI Development states that the development team hopes to start construction for the townhomes in the fourth quarter 2019 with about 15 months until completion and that construction on the Tractor Building could start a year later, estimated to take 16 months to complete.

At a community meeting at Poole & Hunt building on the Clipper Mill site Caroline Paff opened the meeting and had the two development and design teams present the concept plans for the Poole and Hunt parking lot site and for the Tractor Building. The site plan is done by Colbert, Matz and Rosenfelt, Carla Ryon explained the subdivision plan associated with the development. For BCT architects Bob Gehrman explained the townhome design and for the Tractor House architect Martin Marren and Design Collective's Mike Goodwin took the floor to show their four story building inside the building concept. The plans showed a completely new apartment building on top of two parking decks installed in the old shell. The new walls will be around 5-8' set back from the existing walls but will receive light and ventilation through the large opening of the existing Tractor Building facade. Design Collective is using a similar approach on the former Hendler Creamery project in Jonestown on East Baltimore Street.

"The Tractor Building" needs "a longer runway" (Paff) and has less developed concepts to date. The townhomes will be presented at the UDAAP meeting this Thursday at 2:30pm right after a presentation on the design of the Woodberry Station right around the corner on Clipper Mill Road.

The meeting was attended by far fewer community members than the one in the summer of 2018. Except for some concerns about traffic and the scale of the proposed townhomes vis a vis the existing houses there was little discontent. Caroline Paff observed "this was the fastest Clipper Mill meeting in history". Below some of the images that were presented.

Site plan showing lot lines and outline the VS properties

Overall rendered site plan showing in green the forest conservation area

A massing rendering showing the townhouse development (BCT Architects)

Site location plan for the townhouses (BCT Architects)

Basement parking level for Townhouses (BCT Architects)

Section showing existing houses on the right and Clipper Mill buildings on the left
(BCT Architects)

Eye level view of the townhomes 

Rendering illustrating the intended materials  

West elevation of the Tractor Building  (Marren/Design Collective)

Tractor Building: Rear wall to be removed (Marren/Design Collective)

Tractor parking parking level and corner retail (Marren/Design Collective)

Tractor building, apartment level  (Marren/Design Collective)

Tractor building section  (Marren/Design Collective)

Tractor Building, street level front view (Marren/Design Collective)
Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

the article was update 1/23/19  to include the meeting presentation and images

Baltimore Fishbowl reported about the developer selection
Baltimore SUN reported about a community meeting in August 2018

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