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Old March 26th, 2007, 11:40 AM   #2261
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What now? - State must find a way to put World Trade Center back in the black
JEN DEGREGORIO
Daily Record Business Writer
March 25, 2007 7:09 PM
After announcing last month that the state would maintain ownership of Baltimore’s World Trade Center, the administration of Gov. Martin O’Malley is looking for ways to pay for the troubled office tower.

The 30-year-old building, owned by the Department of Transportation, needs renovations that could cost as much as $25 million, according to a source familiar with the property. It also needs operating funds to keep it running through the end of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The administration of former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. planned to sell the World Trade Center, and the General Assembly budgeted only enough money to run it through the third quarter of this year.

Not only that, but the building is not earning enough rental income to pay for itself. Many tenants have moved out in the last year, leaving the building half vacant and in the red by about $42,300 last year, according to data from the Department of Transportation.

The World Trade Center, located at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, costs an average $3.3 million to operate each year between 2004 and 2006. But this year, the building is only expected to bring in about $1.5 million in revenue, according to the fiscal 2008 budget drafted by the O’Malley administration.

The state is looking to combat those problems by hiring a private brokerage company to market the building to future tenants. Sam Minnitte, the transportation department’s real estate director, said the department would likely issue in the months ahead a request for proposals from interested firms.

“Transportation Secretary [John D.] Porcari and Gov. O’Malley have both said they want to see the building operated in the highest of standards and to be a centerpiece of Baltimore’s commercial real estate market,” Minnitte said.

In the late 1960s, the state commissioned the creation of an iconic building to house port-related businesses in Baltimore. Completed in 1977, the 28-story, pentagonal skyscraper designed by I.M. Pei overlooks the Inner Harbor from a prominent spot in the middle of the city’s main tourist destination.

But those familiar with the property say budget pressures and bureaucracy have kept the state from investing in the building’s upkeep. Its heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system is obsolete and needs to be replaced. The building also needs major upgrades to make it compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, among other issues.

The World Trade Center also suffered major flood damage during Hurricane Isabel in 2003, which displaced many of the building’s tenants. Its electrical hub and other systems are still located in the basement level, leaving a chance for the building to sustain more damage during another storm.

“The building has acquired a reputation as being poorly operated,” said Robert Manekin, senior vice president of the Baltimore office of The Staubach Co., a real estate firm that has represented businesses with offices inside the World Trade Center.

When the Ehrlich administration attempted to sell the building in late 2005, it received harsh criticism from legislators who said the building’s high vacancy degraded its value. Comptroller Peter Franchot, then a delegate from Montgomery County, said the state should keep the World Trade Center as a public asset. O’Malley agreed, announcing soon after taking office that the state would do so.

But Manekin thinks the state will have trouble finding new tenants without investing “serious money” to improve the building, which has to compete with the city’s newer office buildings.

“I think a tenant would look at poor HVAC, a questionable water system … as being somewhat problematic,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a real challenge to get the building filled back up.”

The transportation department is studying the World Trade Center to determine what repairs are necessary, Minnitte said.

Before the state can even think about a renovation, however, it needs money to keep the building open through the end of the year. To that end, the transportation department has requested $3.1 million from the General Assembly, which has yet to be approved. The state is requesting another $4 million for the building’s operations during fiscal 2008. The department could later request more money to pay for the private brokerage company it is considering hiring, Minnitte said.

But with the state facing a structural budget deficit of more than $1 billion, it is unclear where the extra money will come from.

M.J. “Jay” Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., the city’s economic development arm, said building upgrades should be on the agenda if the state wants to the World Trade Center to be a success.

“I think what matters is that the building is well taken care of and filled with happy tenants,” Brodie said.

Manekin thinks the World Trade Center could be a premier office location, but only if the state invests to fix it up and hires someone to give it proper attention.

“One of the best things the state can do is to hire a competent, locally based, third-party leasing and management organization with a demonstrated track record of results,” Manekin said. “The state should not be in the business of operating an office building.”


(Above - The landmark World Trade Center building at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor will stay in state hands, but the Department of Transportation
has to work on luring new tenants to the property and addressing millions of dollars in needed repairs.)
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Old March 26th, 2007, 11:43 AM   #2262
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Quote:
Originally Posted by micrip View Post
Here is an image from Google Earth of the Arena and Hopkins Place areas. As can be seen, not nearly enough space. However, a nice tall building would fit very well on the Mechanic site!!
I think there was an "official" comment made by Jay Brodie or someone that said the site would be probably cleared for a nice, tall building.
Does anyone remember what I'm refering to?
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Old March 26th, 2007, 11:47 AM   #2263
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Live Baltimore rolls out latest ad campaign



(Courtesy Live Baltimore.)
Live Baltimore’s slogan “Get in on it” reaches out to D.C. workers to have a better quality of life in Baltimore City. BALTIMORE (Map, News) - “Get In On It” is Live Baltimore’s latest slogan aimed at attracting D.C. workers and commuters to the Baltimore real estate market.


Baltimore City has invested $150,000 in a new media campaign that compares the two cities based on affordability, quality of life, commuting and neighborhoods.

“Having grown up in Ashburton and as an adult living in Madison Park, and now in Hunting Ridge, I have found that all of our 225 neighborhoods are different and distinct and D.C. workers will find the quality of our housing stock to be superb,” Mayor Sheila Dixon said. “They can keep their jobs in D.C. or come work here in Baltimore.”

Matt Goddard, principal of R2i, the firm that developed the ad campaigns, said it was time for D.C. commuters to “get in on” the benefits of living in Baltimore.

This campaign, the third by Live Baltimore in seven years, features six different advertisements that directly compare D.C. to Baltimore, with Baltimore coming out the winner in all the ads.

R2i used monochromatic and black-and-white photos with 60-ish or 70-ish themes that show couples or families with disparaging faces or in cramped quarters with tag lines that read “Get out of it” for the District of Columbia versus full-color images with tag lines reading “Get in on it” under full-color pictures that symbolize a more vibrant quality of life in Baltimore.

“D.C. continues to be a strong market for us and this campaign,” said Jon Laria, president of Live Baltimore’s board of directors. “This continues our legacy of creatively highlighting the attractions of Baltimore City living.”

Live Baltimore has already starting putting up the ads at 18 Metro stations throughout the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, including Dupont Circle, Gallery Place and L’enfant Plaza.

Yet the biggest draw will inevitably be that housing in Baltimore is one-third the cost of housing in D.C. With the average home sales price of $182,606 in Baltimore City compared with $554,695 in the District, Live Baltimore and the city are banking on buyers who want more bang for their buck, and the ads are designed to drive that point home.

[email protected]
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Old March 26th, 2007, 01:25 PM   #2264
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According to the BBJ, they are looking for a restaurant to "anchor" the retail portion of the Zenith.

IMO, I think there are too many eating establishments downtown as it is. I'd like to see some other types of stores. I'm anxiously awaiting the announcement of what will move into the old Fudrucker's site at Market and Pratt. We should hear any day now.

BTW, Filene's opens on the 29th.
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Old March 26th, 2007, 03:33 PM   #2265
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 30 Floors Up View Post
According to the BBJ, they are looking for a restaurant to "anchor" the retail portion of the Zenith.

IMO, I think there are too many eating establishments downtown as it is. I'd like to see some other types of stores. I'm anxiously awaiting the announcement of what will move into the old Fudrucker's site at Market and Pratt. We should hear any day now.

BTW, Filene's opens on the 29th.
What type of retail would you like to see in the Zenith? A restaurant at that location could successfully leverage Camden Yards (Orioles & Ravens), Univ of MD, and Convention Center Hotel traffic.
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Old March 26th, 2007, 03:34 PM   #2266
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenW View Post
I think there was an "official" comment made by Jay Brodie or someone that said the site would be probably cleared for a nice, tall building.
Does anyone remember what I'm refering to?
Brodie said remove the "obsolescence" and replace it with "tall" mix-use.
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Old March 26th, 2007, 04:21 PM   #2267
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Verizon Building

It appears renovations are under way. It looks like they are bumping out the building at street level (both light and pratt). Are they going to enclose the addition in glass to provide for some retail entryway??

Was a rendering ever made public?
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Old March 26th, 2007, 04:23 PM   #2268
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I actually like that new campaign. It's pretty clever, and actually doesn't refer to Baltimore in the sense that, "Yeah, we were a dump, but we're not anymore," as so many other campaigns before it have.
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Old March 26th, 2007, 04:25 PM   #2269
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OH and Wada, I agree. The restaraunt thing is getting out of control. I guess time will weed out the loosers.

Maybe a higher-end organic mini grocery store? It would serve the building between trips to superfresh/whole foods.
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Old March 26th, 2007, 04:49 PM   #2270
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Quote:
Originally Posted by southbalto View Post
The restaurant thing is getting out of control. I guess time will weed out the losers.
Right. In places, it already has, e.g. Strapazza on the NW corner of Howard and Pratt.

Quote:
Maybe a higher-end organic mini grocery store? It would serve the building between trips to superfresh/whole foods.
Could work. Ton of nearby residential to support it. Pratt Street's tough for quality retail west of Light. Available spaces aren't large or contiguous (Convention Center, Federal Courthouse cut multi-block holes in the street) and generally don't present well to the sidewalk so it's hard to make it a destination for shoppers. It could eventually be something like Chicago's Michigan Avenue, but not without some relo and demo.
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Old March 26th, 2007, 05:23 PM   #2271
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamie_hunt View Post
Right. In places, it already has, e.g. Strapazza on the NW corner of Howard and Pratt.



Could work. Ton of nearby residential to support it. Pratt Street's tough for quality retail west of Light. Available spaces aren't large or contiguous (Convention Center, Federal Courthouse cut multi-block holes in the street) and generally don't present well to the sidewalk so it's hard to make it a destination for shoppers. It could eventually be something like Chicago's Michigan Avenue, but not without some relo and demo.


Like Wada, I want to see something new. ACE hardware opened up this week in south baltimore and I was thrilled. The last thing we need down here is another bar/coffee house.
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Old March 26th, 2007, 05:25 PM   #2272
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Parking

Anybody know what it takes to build a new garage? I mean are most of the ones that have recently been built publically financed or privately financed.

Like if I wanted to build a garage, would I just call the City and say "hey guys, I hear there is a parking shortage in Mt Vernon. I'd like to build a garage there."


Anyone have any insight on this?

Just wondering on the thought process on how this stuff works.
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Old March 26th, 2007, 05:26 PM   #2273
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HAPPY GREEK INDEPENDENCE DAY ALL
(I'm British, but I was Greek yesterday!)

Well there was a parade in Greektown this weekend to honor Greek Independence Day. Greektown is part of the 50% of Baltimore that some Washingtonian thinks is "unfit for living". Below is his quote: "I have a buddy of mine that lives near Greektown by S Highland and I've never been so afraid for my life as when I visit him".

As you can see, he's right. I was so scared I saw angels!

I walked from Mt. Vernon, to the parade, and back again without getting murdered, robbed, or asked for money. WOW! I must look poor or something. (Drip sarcasm now.)






THANK GOD THE POLICE WERE EVERY PLACE!










PHILADELPHIA GREEK MUMMERS!




MORE PHOTOGRAPHS CAN BE FOUND HERE IF ANYONE IS INTERESTED.
http://www.baltimoreguy.com/photogal...o%20Album.html

Last edited by 30 Floors Up; March 26th, 2007 at 05:46 PM.
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Old March 26th, 2007, 05:30 PM   #2274
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cgunna View Post
Anybody know what it takes to build a new garage? I mean are most of the ones that have recently been built publically financed or privately financed.

Like if I wanted to build a garage, would I just call the City and say "hey guys, I hear there is a parking shortage in Mt Vernon. I'd like to build a garage there."


Anyone have any insight on this?

Just wondering on the thought process on how this stuff works.
In Mt. Vernon, it better be historically correct! Most are financed by bonds. They aren't very profitable.
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Old March 26th, 2007, 05:38 PM   #2275
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenW View Post
Live Baltimore rolls out latest ad campaign
As much as I thought the the slogan 'get in on it' was the biggest waste of funds ever, in the context of that poster it makes sense.
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Old March 26th, 2007, 06:06 PM   #2276
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You've got serious zoning issues in many neighborhoods and URPs.

My guess is that Mt. Vernon would not approve any stand-alone above ground garages right now. Frankly, I don't know where one would put it where it would make sense.

Parking's tight in Mt. Vernon, but not like South Baltimore or Canton.

I suggested the Lippman Lot (which City Planning wanted to outline as a future garage spot specifically, then line-item vetoed by MVBA) could be a spot for a large underground garage financed with City parking bonds. Then I said 4-8 stories might be built atop. I think the problem with my proposal is for the bonding process to work, they need a garage for non-residential public use, with those paying daily rates or monthly rates higher than residents would. I thought an UG at Lippman would work to make redevelopment at the Medical Arts building more feasible (or maybe even the Brexton).

It still might work though, one could built 4-5 underground stories, with 3-4 above ground levels that could be "faced" with residences 30 to 40 deep on Cathedral St. That could provide the end all and be all of parking reserves for Mt. Vernon. Everything else could be comfortably built into each new mid-rise development.

Other than that, as a former Mt. Vernonite, I would be offeneded at any new above-ground garages! (Like everyone didn't already know I was going to say that.)

Nate
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Old March 26th, 2007, 06:12 PM   #2277
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maudibjr View Post
As much as I thought the the slogan 'get in on it' was the biggest waste of funds ever, in the context of that poster it makes sense.
Agreed.

I think LiveBaltimore should pick it's battle with the DC suburbs, less the District itself. You can't win a fight with them. We're cheaper, but that's it.

If you wage a competition with the suburbs, you've got urban amenities to entice them with our prices and the convenience of MARC in certain Balto. neighborhoods--in addition to price.

Nate
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Old March 26th, 2007, 06:25 PM   #2278
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UPDATE: Whoops ... Nate beat me to the punch. Disregard the MVBIA seeking parking on the Lippman Lot remark ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by cgunna View Post
Anybody know what it takes to build a new garage? I mean are most of the ones that have recently been built publically financed or privately financed. Like if I wanted to build a garage, would I just call the City and say "hey guys, I hear there is a parking shortage in Mt Vernon. I'd like to build a garage there." Just wondering on the thought process on how this stuff works.
Best bet would be to contact Bonnie Crockett, Executive Director of Federal Hill Main Street. [email protected]

She would probably have a record of the ten-year effort to get a garage built on West Street in FH.

Also, check with the Midtown Community Benefits District and the Mount Vernon Belvedere Improvement Association. One or both of them has likely tried to get a garage built on Eli Lippman's lot on Cathedral between Eager and Read only to discover (a) an unmotivated seller or (b) a slightly less than ideal footprint that would be better if Comprehensive Car Care, Eddie's Supermarket, and the two historic buildings on Cathedral could be relo/demo'ed. Might be worth it for a larger Eddie's, parking, and some residential http://images.google.com/imgres?imgu...f%3D1%26sa%3DG

Last edited by jamie_hunt; March 26th, 2007 at 06:27 PM. Reason: better info preceding
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Old March 26th, 2007, 06:45 PM   #2279
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Calling all posters!
Roll call!
Emerging from the brig, searching for food. I guess I'm still here though.
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Old March 26th, 2007, 06:49 PM   #2280
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Awesome pics, Wada. Thanks for posting them. Greektown is one of my favorite neighborhoods, especially for dining.
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