By: Kevin Lynch
Caves Valley Partners (CVP) presented plans today to the Baltimore City Planning Department’s Urban Design and Architecture Advisory Panel (UDAAP) for a six-story, 67,000 sq. ft. office building at 160 W. Ostend St. The proposed building is part of CVP’s $275-million Stadium Square mixed-use development. Stadium Square is on three blocks of South Baltimore and Sharp-Leadenhall located between Cross St. on the north, Race St. on the east, Leadenhall St. on the west, and both sides of Ostend St. to the south.
At the current site of the proposed office building is a BMORE Around Town tailgating lot which replaced industrial buildings that were demolished in recent years. The new office building at 160 W. Ostend St. will occupy the southwest corner of the parking lot at Ostend St. and Leadenhall St. Also on this block is the former VacPac building and the USPS post office, which will relocate “any day” to S. Hanover St. The former VacPac building is currently getting demolished and the post office will also come down once the relocation is completed.
A new five-story, approximately 320-unit apartment building by Hanover Co. will occupy the rest of this block that faces Ostend St., Leadenhall St., Race St., and W. West St. Both the new apartment building and new office building will share a parking garage on the interior of the block. Plans for the new apartment building will go before UDAAP in December.
Hanover Co. built and manages the 293-unit Hanover Cross Street apartment building, which is adjacent to the north to the 1100 blocks of Leadenhall and Race St. The building opened in Summer 2017 and its apartments are now full, according to CVP Partner Arsh Mirmiran. The building also has 14,000 sq. ft. of retail space along W. Cross St., which has yet to sign its first tenant. Mirmiran noted that business owners have struggled to make the jump from Federal Hill to Sharp-Leadenhall, and that increased density of Stadium Square and improvements coming to the portion of Cross St. that connects Hanover Cross Street to Cross Street Market and the heart of the Federal Hill Business District will help.
CVP originally intended on keeping the VacPac building and converting it into a 30,000 sq. ft. office building with ground floor retail. Mirmiran said that even though the company had already gutted the building for the rebuild it became “cost prohibitive.”
“The Vac Pac building created a really inefficient layout for the apartment building, significantly driving up costs per unit. If it hadn’t been right in the middle of the block, we could have saved it,” said Mirmiran.
160 W. Ostend St. will be a rectangular-shaped office building that is attached to the new apartment building on two sides. It will have a large exterior facade facing south and a smaller facade facing west. The south-facing facade will be mostly glass with a brick feature surrounding it, giving the appearance of a large window. The building will also have metal screening, dark panels, and first-floor retail that has an adjacent outdoor patio.
As the property moves west, it slopes into the 500-year flood plain. The eastern portion of the building will have a ground-level entrance, and the western entrance will be elevated and accessed by steps.
CVP is working with architecture firm Design Collective on the new building.
Mirmiran noted that CVP has a “handshake agreement” with a restaurateur who will take the entire first-floor retail space at 160 W. Ostend St. He said they are also negotiating with an office tenant that could lease the top three floors of this building. Construction will likely begin once CVP signs its first office tenant, but that the company hopes to begin construction by the first quarter of 2019.
Mirmiran said that the goal is to get 160 W. Ostend St. a bit of a jump start on construction and to get it out of the ground before the new Hanover Co. apartment building begins construction. He noted however that both could start construction at the same time if needed.
160 W. Ostend St. is across the street from 145 W. Ostend St., which is a 72,000 sq. ft. office building that opened last summer. That building is now 75% leased with tenants including Spaces, Ricoh, Clark Construction Group, Employee One Benefit Solutions, and Janney Montgomery Scott.
Also proposed for the same block as 145 W. Ostend St. is an approximately 180,000 sq. ft. office building with first-floor retail at the site of a current parking lot, and an 840-space parking garage that will be located behind both office buildings.
CVP is hoping to turn Ostend St. into a popular restaurant corridor that features easy parking in Stadium Square’s garages. Mirmiran is hoping the parking makes it an ideal destination for area residents and visitors alike. Mirmiran said that the first floor spaces at 145 W. Ostend St. are currently offices, but could be converted to restaurant spaces in the future.
Though not part of Stadium Square, there is an open retail space at the adjacent M.C. Dean, Inc. building at 18o W. Ostend St. Himmelrich Associates Spring Garden Building at 175 W. Ostend St. is currently getting renovated and already landed Checkerspot Brewing Company.
Another project already completed in Stadium Square is the 2,400 sq. ft. Leadenhall Community Center which opened in August.
CVP is also planning a 30-plus unit affordable apartment building for veterans at the southeast corner of Leadenhall St. and W. Cross St. that would replace five existing rowhomes. The plan is to use the front facade of the homes for the new building, which will also have ground-floor retail. CVP has acquired four of the homes, but has been unable to acquire the fifth home, which is owned by the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC). CVP his hoping this issue will be resolved in the coming years. In the meantime, the company renovated two of the rowhomes and one on the 1100 block of Leadenhall St. as affordable housing for police officers.
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