Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Sit On It: 2017 Edition

Back in the depths of the recession, I wrote a post called "Sit On It." The idea of that post was that developers who owned land for development and redevelopment projects needed to hold off or "Sit On" their investments until the market turned around and their plans would once again become feasible. Today, the market has turned around and is responding nicely to new development of all uses in Baltimore. However, the sheer volume of development proposals coming down the pipeline might allow for an excess of space if all done at once. So despite the development friendly climate, some developers will have to "Sit On It" in 2017.
In 2017 many recently completed or under construction projects with a variety of uses are going to flood the market if they haven't already. These projects include but aren't limited to; Stadium Square, Port Covington, Hopkins/East Baltimore, 414 Light St., 10 Light St., McHenry Point Phase II, The Rotunda, Harbor Point, Harborview, Inner Harbor East, Marketplace at Fells Point, Bank of America Building Retail, Banner Hill Apartments, Cross Street Market Redevelopment, Della Note Site, 300 E. Prat St., and Anthem House Apartments. This is a lot of new development going up in a very short time in very small place. That being said, there are many more proposals around these same areas that aren't under construction yet. These are great proposals and had there been less competing developments, I would say full speed ahead. Alas, these additional developers have to "Sit On It."
The first development is State Center. I'm aware that Larry unilaterally pulled the plug on this development but if it should be resurrected, the developers should still sit on it. Since the existing State Office Buildings are falling apart, I think the State Offices should move out of those Buildings and into vacant Office space throughout Downtown. When the market turns around, the development should be re-visited and McCulloh Homes should be redeveloped with State Center.
Next we have the Edison Properties. Currently this is nothing but surface parking lots. This could easily be an eastbound expansion of Downtown going towards Hopkins. It would be very doubtful that any development would occur on the Edison Properties until the JFX is dismantled and it can be linked to Downtown.
Next, we have the parcel of land surrounded by Guilford Avenue, Holiday St, and Saratoga St. This is also a surface parking lot that is poised for a mixed use development. You may recognize this parcel from my 2008 "Sit On It" post and although it's a prime parcel in Downtown, it's still not the right time to pursue it.
Next we come to the Mechanic Opera House. This ugly building had been shuttered and was finally demolished. At the moment the developer is embroiled in lawsuits which is currently halting the mixed use tower that is proposed for this site at Baltimore St. and Charles St. This may be a blessing in disguise since the market is swarmed with projects similar to this.
Another Sit On It development is Old Town Mall and Somerset Homes. I've written extensively on this area and I don't believe any redevelopment can occur until Gay St. is restored as a one way northbound street for vehicular traffic. Somerset Homes on the other hand, probably will remain a vacant plot of land until Old Town Mall is redeveloped. Like the Edison Properties, Old Town Mall is east of the JFX so any redevelopment that occurs should also be done after the JFX is dismantled.
Now we come to 25th St. Station. This development was flawed from the start. Its aim was to bring "Big Box Retail" to the Charles Village/Remington area at the site of the closed Anderson Automotive Car Dealership. Its anchors were to be Lowes and Wal Mart with junior anchors akin to Staples and Ana's Linens. Lowes pulled out and the project was re-worked with Wal Mart as the soul anchor. Residents did not want a Wal Mart in their neighborhood so it too was removed from the plans. Although this is prime land, the future of 25th St. Station is unknown. Like other development projects on this list, it's located in an area that's surrounding by new development and investment so even if there were real plans, the developers should Sit On It.
The Convention Center Redevelopment. Although a newer larger and modernized Convention Center is desperately needed, the plans for mixed use around and above it are a little too far gone at the moment. This might have to be a phased redevelopment where the new Convention Center is built and can begin re-booking Cons that have left the City in favor of other Venues while the larger picture of mixed use around and above it could be done in the future. This could be done similarly to the Four Seasons at Inner Harbor East.
Harborview Lots 6 &7. The Harborview high rise once stood as the lone representation of redevelopment on the key highway waterfront. Since the early 2000s that has changed as Harborview has added town homes, low rise Condos and the planned "Pinnacle at Harborview" mid rise and high rise towers. Unbeknownst to many, the addition of the Pinnacle buildings are not the final buildings for Harborview. On either side of the Little Havana, there are surface level parking lots that will eventually become high rises that will complete the Harborview Development. It has been promised that these buildings will not obstruct water water front views from Clement St., Webster St., and Anchor St. Given the flurry of current construction along Key Highway, it's easy to see that the Harborview Developers will have to continue to "Sit On" Lots 6&7.
Finally there's the Pepsi Bottling Co. The sign on the JFX has become an iconic landmark for drivers coming and going from Downtown for decades. However, it appears that plant's days soon be numbered as the Development firm Himmelrich and Associates has purchased the land that the plant sits on and intends to turn into mixed use anchored by a Harris Teeter. If done right, this will complement the Mills in this area that have recently been rehabbed beautifully as mixed use. Given this site's proximity to all of these Mills and new Town Homes under construction in Hampden, I'm afraid Himmelrich might have to "Sit On" this development a little longer. They're actually doing just that as Pepsi is renting the site back to them until further notice.
It's great that after a recession that brought investment and development in Baltimore to a grinding halt in 2008 has begun to pick up steam again and the City is seeing new development again. Developers seem to be making up for time lost during the recession as developments are coming down the pipeline at break neck speed one after the other. In order for the market to be able to absorb all of this development though, some Developers will just have to "Sit On It" until further notice.

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