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Old July 6th, 2007, 08:19 PM   #4741
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The Westport project is definitely one of the most excited projects right now. I know Turner won't begin with the 65-story tower, but I hope he kicks off the project with something more than just townhomes. I'd prefer that he keeps the townhomes in Westport to a minimum. If he's going to market Westport as a second downtown, the more mixed-use, the better.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 09:50 PM   #4742
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[QUOTE=waj0527;14114903]Good. I wasn't thrilled with the design. Glad to see he's pressing forward too.

I'm curious how much has changed on Sapperstein's design since he presented it to the Chesapeake Paperboard Committee and then the general Locust Point Civic Association. We were pretty happy with the last revision we saw.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 09:54 PM   #4743
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EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW - AND MORE - ABOUT HOW TO CONSTRUCT A HOTEL!


Baltimore's New Convention Center Hotel

By Christina Fisher
July 23, 2007
Construction
When the Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel is finished, it will be the city's largest and its first major design-build project.

Joint venture partners Hensel Phelps Construction Co., Doracon Contracting and Banks Contracting Company, Inc. are at work on the Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel, which will connect to the Baltimore Convention Center and is adjacent to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. When completed, the new hotel — the city's largest and its first major design-build project — will feature 757 rooms, 550 parking spaces, two large ballrooms, meeting rooms, a restaurant, bar, and fitness center.

The entire project has been divided into three sites — west side, east side and the pedestrian bridge over Howard Street that connects to the convention center. Each site features different foundations and construction techniques.

With project plans 35-percent completed, Doracon began the deep-hole excavation in February 2006 and removed 100,000 cubic yards of soil. Shoring and lagging work followed.

The slab-on-grade foundation for the west side superstructure site, which is concrete, sits on 194 caissons reaching depths of 40 feet to 50 feet and then pier caps. The perimeter walls are shotcrete.

Bill Thumm, project manager with Hensel Phelps, says that on this phase of the project "we had a small consortium of small businesses do the slab-on-grade, underground drainage and pier caps. We took our big concrete package and broke it down into sub-packages to develop more diversity on the job site."

CECO Concrete Construction has been on-site since November and is doing all of the structural concrete work on the west side. CECO has reached the 10th floor of the 20-story superstructure, and they have been using a modified table system — the perimeter is tabled and the interior is handset — and a concrete pump to pour one floor a week.

"Two floors have forms at one time," explains Thumm. "Once you hit 75-percent design strength, you can pull them out and fly them to the next level. You want to pour your deck and pour your columns in the same day, and a regular deck is three pours. You do three pours to finish one floor a week."

The east side of the project is a structural steel package that sits on a different foundation system. After stripping the site down 3 feet to 4 feet, it was brought back up with engineered fill. Hayward Baker Inc. then engineered and installed the aggregate piles for the site. Thumm explains that a lense of existing fill sits between the structural fill and the native soils. The aggregate piles span between the two.

Work on the structural steel began in March 2007 and has been going well. Thumm explains that they have had to plan around the steel, but design-build delivery offers more flexibility when placing mill orders. Hensel Phelps worked closely with Baltimore Steel and ACM Erectors to "lock up the mill orders, procure the steel early and start detailing to get it to the job site at the right time," says Thumm.

The third site on the project is the pedestrian bridge over Howard Street. Building the foundation for the abutment on the east side of the bridge proved to be particularly challenging because of a CSX Rail tunnel running alongside the location of the proposed foundation. Built in the 1880s and still in active use, Thumm explains that they "had to thread between the convention center, the CSX tunnel and whatever utilities were there.

"Initially (the design) started out as 5-foot-diameter caissons, but we changed it to micropiles. We went through seven micropile designs in the course of a month to hit the deadline to have the steel delivered before the ballpark opened. We (installed) 12 micropiles to accommodate the abutment on the east side of the bridge."

Hensel Phelps' first big milestone was to get the bridge steel erected before the Oriole's opening day on April 9 in order to avoid the lane closures that would interfere with fans making their way to Camden Yards. Using four cranes, United Crane accomplished the task in one Saturday night.

Canam Steel fabricated the bridge trusses at their facility in Point of Rocks, Maryland. The trusses were shipped to the job site and assembled on the ground. A 300-ton Link-Belt HC-278H crane picked up and flew the first truss and did a mid-air transfer to another 90-ton Liebherr and a 120-ton Grove GMK5120B, which set and held the truss in place. The 300-ton Link-Belt then picked up the second truss, setting it and holding it in place. Finally, a 40-ton Grove TMS500E hydraulic crane stitched in the cross members.

Because the pedestrian bridge crosses over Baltimore's light rail line as well as Howard Street, work hours are restricted to five-hour windows on Friday and Saturday nights when the light rail trains are not running. So, construction continues on the bridge, which will feature a curtain wall on each side, metal panels underneath and a standard roof.

Work will soon begin on the exterior skin and the studs. The exterior on the lower podium is Cushwa brick that will match the brick at Camden Yards. Above that a metal panel system comprised of metal studs, sheathing, an air barrier, and a 2-inch insulated Centria wall panel will form the exterior of half the remaining superstructure, while the other half is a corrugated rain screen panel.

At this point in the project, the utilities are nearly 75-percent done. The concrete superstructure is scheduled to top out on September 28, the structural steel in mid-July on the lower podium and the high steel by mid-October. Once construction is finished, however, Alisha Schmitz, project manager with Hensel Phelps, is responsible for the interior upfit of the hotel — right down to the silverware.

"Normally developers handle their own furniture and their own operating supplies — glassware, stemware, computer systems, knick knacks, etc.," says Thumm. "We're working with the Parker Company, which is a purchasing agent for the hotel industry."

According to Bill Thumm, this is a growing trend in construction contracts — contractors being responsible for Fixtures, Furniture and Equipment (FFE) and Operating Supplies and Equipment (OSE) so that these items can be incorporated into one contract.

With a scheduled completion date of August 9, 2008, the Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel is on schedule and going well. "We've gotten past the design stage and we're fully permitted," says Thumm. "We're projecting to meet or beat our goals. It's a great collaborative team, which is what you want with design-build."
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Old July 6th, 2007, 10:12 PM   #4744
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RTKL acquired by Dutch engineering firm

Hate to see our local resources sold to out of town and in this instance, out of country entities:

Dutch consulting and engineering giant Arcadis has acquired design and planning firm RTKL Associates, one of Greater Baltimore's largest private companies.

Arcadis said it has acquired 100 percent of the stock of Baltimore-based RTKL. Arcadis said it expects the deal to immediately add to earnings per share, but further details of the deal's terms were not disclosed.

RTKL had net revenue of $142 million in 2006, Arcadis said. The company has more than 1,000 employees in offices in Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Dallas; Los Angeles; and Miami. RTKL has nearly 180 local employees, according to Baltimore Business Journal research. It is the region's 18th-largest private employer.

"This is certainly a good thing for a Baltimore-based firm -- it makes us more of a global player," said RTKL vice president Thom McKay in a phone interview. The deal should not lead to layoffs, he said: "We'll have more work to do, and we'll need more resources." Joining with Arcadis should present RTKL with more opportunities to do large-scale developments, McKay said.

RTKL provides architectural design, master planning and specialized engineering services. Its high-profile projects include the redevelopment of Baltimore's waterfront, the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum in China and the LA Live development near the Staples Center in Los Angeles. RTKL's specialties include design and engineering for high-security buildings and for health care facilities. The firm has worked on projects in roughly 50 countries.

The deal will expand RTKL's reach in other parts of the world and provide "the resources to define the next generation of the global architecture and design practice," RTKL CEO David C. Hudson said in a news release.

Arcadis, traded on the Euronext stock exchange, provides consulting, engineering and management services. It has more than 11,000 employees and more than $1.2 billion euros in gross revenue, or more than $1.6 billion in U.S. dollars.
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Old July 7th, 2007, 02:41 AM   #4745
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The Westport project is definitely one of the most excited projects right now. I know Turner won't begin with the 65-story tower, but I hope he kicks off the project with something more than just townhomes. I'd prefer that he keeps the townhomes in Westport to a minimum. If he's going to market Westport as a second downtown, the more mixed-use, the better.
i think what i'm curious to see the most is how this project is going to fare in that westport neighborhood. it's not exactly "safe heaven".
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Old July 7th, 2007, 06:15 PM   #4746
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i think what i'm curious to see the most is how this project is going to fare in that westport neighborhood. it's not exactly "safe heaven".
The scale of Turner's project, along with some rigorous code enforcement on the city's part and new investment in Westport proper, should be significant enough to improve the safety situation _a lot_.
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Old July 7th, 2007, 06:23 PM   #4747
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When Turner first proposed the Westport project, there was an article in the sun about people buying up homes in the area in anticipation of the rising values. For better or worse, Westport will probably drive most of the current residents out of the area after a while.
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Old July 8th, 2007, 01:26 AM   #4748
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When Turner first proposed the Westport project, there was an article in the sun about people buying up homes in the area in anticipation of the rising values. For better or worse, Westport will probably drive most of the current residents out of the area after a while.
Can't see one reason why its a bad thing. Obviously those people who live there now can't live together in the same neighborhood without causing crime, drugs, and killings. Maybe its time to move some of them out and let them try to ruin another neighborhood.

Gentrification is a beautiful thing. It gives people who care a chance to make a neighborhood better. Those who don't care, lose and that's just too bad.
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Old July 8th, 2007, 06:00 PM   #4749
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Baltimore, Maryland, Local Interest Information
Baltimore is an independent city located in the state of Maryland in the United States of America. As of 2005, the population of Baltimore City was 641,943 and the Baltimore-Towson metropolitan area had approximately 2.6 million residents. Baltimore is the largest city in Maryland and the third largest city on the East Coast after New York City and Philadelphia, although its metropolitan area is outpaced by that of Atlanta, Boston, Miami, and Washington, D.C.

The city is named after the founding proprietor of the Maryland Colony, Lord Baltimore in the Irish House of Lords. Baltimore became the second leading port of entry for immigrants to the United States during the 1800s. The city is a major U.S. seaport, situated closer to major Midwestern markets than any other major seaport on the East Coast. Because there is also a Baltimore County surrounding (but not including) the city, it is sometimes referred to as Baltimore City when a clear distinction is desired.

People from Baltimore are known as "Baltimoreans", although they sometimes sardonically refer to themselves as "Baltimorons".

During the 17th century, various towns called "Baltimore" were founded as commercial ports at various locations on the upper Chesapeake Bay. The present city dates from July 30, 1729, and is named after Lord Baltimore, who was the first Proprietary Governor of the Province of Maryland. Baltimore grew swiftly in the mid- to late 18th century as a granary for sugar-producing colonies in the Caribbean. The profit from sugar encouraged the cultivation of cane and the importation of food. Baltimore's shorter distance from the Caribbean, compared to other large port cities such as New York City and Boston, reduced transportation time and minimized the spoilage of flour.

During the War of 1812, the British declared Baltimore "A nest of Pirates."[citation needed] The city's Fort McHenry came under attack by British forces near the harbor after the British had burned Washington, D.C. Known today as the Battle of Baltimore, American forces won by repulsing joint land and naval attacks. They fought to a stalemate at the Battle of North Point after killing the British commander General Ross. British reinforcements were not possible thereafter, and their forces subsequently withdrew. The naval engagement inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem "The Star-Spangled Banner," the lyrics to the United States' national anthem. The battle was memorialized in the Battle Monument which is on the city seal.

In the years that followed, Baltimore's population grew explosively, due to increased commerce not only abroad but more importantly with points west in the interior of the United States. The construction of the federally funded National Road (now US Route 40) and the privately funded Baltimore & Ohio Railroad made Baltimore a major shipping and manufacturing center. As fortunes were made, the city's distinctive local culture started taking shape, and it started to develop a unique skyline peppered with churches and monuments. On an 1827 visit to the city, John Quincy Adams purportedly nicknamed it "Monument City"--a moniker that remained popular for well over a century.

Baltimore became an independent city in 1851, being separated from Baltimore County at that time.

Though it was a slave-holding state, Maryland did not secede but remained part of the Union during the Civil War. Slavery was outlawed in Maryland by the state Constitution of 1864. Pro-Southern sentiment led to the Baltimore riot of 1861, when Union soldiers marched through the city. After the riot, Union troops occupied Baltimore, and Maryland came under direct federal administration — in part, to prevent the state from seceding — until the end of the war in April 1865. This was considered a necessary move by the Union to prevent Washington, D.C., from being completely surrounded by seceded Confederate territory. The case Ex parte Merryman, written by Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney (himself a Marylander), dealt with the habeas corpus rights of Marylanders jailed by the Abraham Lincoln Administration and strongly rebuked Lincoln for his actions.

The Great Baltimore Fire on February 7, 1904, destroyed over 1,500 buildings in 30 hours and forced most of the city to rebuild. Immediately afterward, Mayor Robert McLane was quoted in the Baltimore News as saying, "To suppose that the spirit of our people will not rise to the occasion is to suppose that our people are not genuine Americans. We shall make the fire of 1904 a landmark not of decline but of progress." He then refused assistance, stating "As head of this municipality, I cannot help but feel gratified by the sympathy and the offers of practical assistance which have been tendered to us. To them I have in general terms replied, 'Baltimore will take care of its own, thank you.'" (McLane committed suicide on May 30.) Two years later, on September 10, 1906, the Baltimore-American reported that the city had risen from the ashes and "one of the great disasters of modern time had been converted into a blessing."

Baltimore's population peaked at 949,708 in the 1950 Census, which ranked it as the sixth-largest city in the country, behind Detroit, and ahead of Cleveland. For the next five decades, the city's population declined while its suburbs grew dramatically, bottoming out in 2000 at 636,251. In the 21st century, the city's population has stabilized and is again rising, mostly due to revitalization efforts in many city neighborhoods.

In 1955 Flag House Courts, a public housing project consisting of three 12-story buildings, was erected. These buildings were demolished in 2001.

In recent years, efforts to redevelop the downtown area have led to a revitalization of the Inner Harbor. The Baltimore Convention Center was opened in 1979 and was renovated and expanded in 1996. Harborplace, a modern urban retail and restaurant complex, was opened on the waterfront in 1980, followed by the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland's largest tourist destination, and another cultural venue, the Baltimore Museum of Industry in 1981. In 1992, the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball moved from Memorial Stadium to Oriole Park at Camden Yards downtown, and six years later the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League moved next door into PSINet Stadium (later renamed M&T Bank Stadium following PSINet's bankruptcy).

On October 2, 1996, Baltimore became the first city in the United States to adopt 311 as a non-emergency "hot line" telephone number, in order to reserve the use of 911 for genuine emergencies. The concept has been highly successful, and numerous other American municipalities have since implemented the practice.

In 2003, the Baltimore Development Corporation announced that three hotel projects were being reviewed. As of September 2006, the 756-room, $305 million Hilton hotel project is currently under construction west of the Baltimore Convention Center. The City of Baltimore hopes to have it finished and opened by August 2008. (See Baltimore Convention Center Hotel Project for more details regarding the convention center hotel.)

Also in 2003, Baltimore was affected by Hurricane Isabel from flooding as a result of tidal surge, affecting primarily the Fells Point community and the Inner Harbor and surrounding low areas. Many places were flooded, including the sports center ESPN Zone, the Baltimore World Trade Center (which remained closed for approximately a month during cleanup efforts), and most of the Inner Harbor. Water levels rose some 20 feet in areas, flooding underground parking garages and displacing thousands of cubic yards of trash and debris.

Beginning in the early part of the 21st century, Baltimore has undergone a major building spree in the downtown area, specifically in the Inner Harbor East district. The skyline has extended and will continue to do so well into the next decade. ARC Wheeler, a Philadelphia-based developer has been approved to build a new hotel/condominium complex that will be the city's new tallest building, dubbed "10 Inner Harbor," initially approved at 59 stories and 717ft tall, but rumored to be in the process of being redesigned to be even taller. Other proposals for downtown skyscrapers are twin 65-story towers at sites on E. Saratoga Street and Guilford Avenue, an 800ft.+ tower and complex located on the banks of the Patapsco River's middle branch area, and a 40-story condo and hotel tower at 300 E. Pratt Street.

Last edited by hpal3; July 8th, 2007 at 10:23 PM.
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Old July 9th, 2007, 04:53 AM   #4750
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I have a friend who is interested in buying and rehabbing a house in Woodberry, just west of the Clipper Mill development. He feels that the blocks adjacent to Clipper Mill could come up in value over time as the Streuver Development becomes fully built-out and as Hampden becomes even pricier.

Together, we walked down Druid Hill Avenue today, and liked a lot of the properties up until Greenspring Avenue. Once you pass Greenspring, the housing values decline significantly, but the buildings are all rowhomes of the quality you see on Union Avenue, and have great investment potential. What disturbed us was how quickly the area changed once you cross Greenspring. I know that's getting close to Park Heights, but I saw three abandoned houses in a row about two blocks down from Greenspring (not even a half mile from Clipper Mill), and one house with windows eerily outfitted with bulletproof steel covers and a camera on the porch. (I'm speculating, but the fortified home seemed to me like it was linked to a drug operation.) I tried to ask some residents on the eastern side of Greenspring (which seemed more stable) what they thought of the neighborhood, and whether it seemed to be improving. Many complained about burglaries and gunshots in the not-too-far distance. They did have positive things to say about Clipper Mill, but that seemed, in their opinion, to be the only significant change in the neighborhood. With hosing in the downturn it is, it seems like not much else is on the horizon from a big developer, to change the area in a dramatic way. I also talked to a police officer on patrol, who warned about venturing much further past Greenspring. He said the biggest problem in Woodberry was spillover crime from Park Heights -- mostly burglaries and auto thefts, but the occasional assault. He said Clipper Mill has been trouble free so far, with only a couple of burglaries to speak of.

My usual benchmark for assessing a home is a relatively stable neighborhood five blocks around, or signs of improvement and change visible at least near the periphery of that radius. Nobody seemed to be very optimistic about that part of the neighborhood. I know that Nate lived in Woodberry for some time, and I'm sure some of our other posters are familiar with Woodberry/Park Heights, and I wanted to get a sense of your assessment about the quality of the neighborhood, and whether any change is due for Park Heights. I know Mayor Dixon has committed increased city resources to that area, but I can't even find a website online that describes a vision for the community, or a sense of what change is on the horizon. Any help is appreciated...

Thanks.
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Old July 9th, 2007, 05:26 AM   #4751
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Hate to see our local resources sold to out of town and in this instance, out of country entities:

Dutch consulting and engineering giant Arcadis has acquired design and planning firm RTKL Associates, one of Greater Baltimore's largest private companies.

Arcadis said it has acquired 100 percent of the stock of Baltimore-based RTKL. Arcadis said it expects the deal to immediately add to earnings per share, but further details of the deal's terms were not disclosed.
Yet another local business "becomes better" (like Giant?) be being acquired? RTKL had done a lot of good work over the years...I hope they don't get too messed up in the transition. I used to live down the street from the K in RTKL and he was always proud of being local and personal. I don't know if George is still with us but I don't think he would be happy.
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Old July 9th, 2007, 10:04 AM   #4752
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Yet another local business "becomes better" (like Giant?) be being acquired? RTKL had done a lot of good work over the years...I hope they don't get too messed up in the transition. I used to live down the street from the K in RTKL and he was always proud of being local and personal. I don't know if George is still with us but I don't think he would be happy.
The RTKL announcement really wasn’t a surprise; rumors had been floating around for a while. It was bound to happen.

While I can’t say I really lamented Giant being sold, since it was a DC based/focused company, the one I miss terribly is Hechinger’s (the home improvement chain). While Home Depot and Lowe’s are okay, nothing will ever beat the “homeyness” of Hechinger’s, even if it too was based south of us. I remember taking many trips to the one on Perring Parkway. When the Hecht Co. shuttered their doors at the same location, with the announcement Hechinger’s was taking over the location, somehow it took the sting out of the loss. Local company, local people, local patrons.

RTKL. Hopefully the existing talent will manifest in many new projects. While most of their portfolio was never really considered "cutting edge"...they catered well to the corporate crowd: conservative and efficient. Harold Adams ushered in a new era, and for awhile it was good to see a local firm build successful projects all over the world. But today, with new leadership, it’s all about “globalism”: either grow or die.

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Old July 9th, 2007, 10:21 AM   #4753
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Yet another local business "becomes better" (like Giant?) be being acquired? RTKL had done a lot of good work over the years...I hope they don't get too messed up in the transition. I used to live down the street from the K in RTKL and he was always proud of being local and personal. I don't know if George is still with us but I don't think he would be happy.
...as to the name RTKL, Adams has a joke he likes to share/tell. As Chairman/CEO, whenever asked what RTKL stands for he likes to say: Respect, Truth, Kindness and Love.

Apparently back when the firm was aggressively moving to expand overseas, while in China, he was asked the same, and he replied: Respect, Truth, Kindness and Love. And they believed it (!).

Adams said it took him some work to "undo" the impression...

Last edited by Eerik; July 9th, 2007 at 10:47 AM.
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Old July 9th, 2007, 01:22 PM   #4754
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Some are heading the other way.

Moving day for Semmes
Bucking trend, law firm retreating from waterfront

STEVEN OVERLY, Daily Record Business Writer, July 8, 2007 9:00 PM

Escalating rental costs at the city’s prime Pratt Street properties are prompting some companies and law firms to retreat a few blocks into the city’s more economically friendly central business district, bucking the trend of businesses relocating to the Inner Harbor.

Semmes, Bowen & Semmes is one such law firm. When its lease expires in April, Semmes will move farther from the waterfront, to the M&T Bank Building at 25 S. Charles St. after 20 years at 250 W. Pratt St. Pursuing more economically savvy options did guide the firm’s decision to move in part, said Cleaveland D. Miller, a principal at Semmes, and 25 S. Charles St. proved to be the most cost-effective choice. The firm was also looking at property in Anne Arundel County.

“[We] looked at all the costs projections and what was available, and it made more sense to stay in the central business district,” he said. “We will actually be more efficient in our use of space. Our effective rental costs per attorney will decrease.” Though Miller could not provide rental costs for the firm’s current or new offices, statistics from The Staubach Co., which tracks commercial real estate in Baltimore, show the current asking price at 250 W. Pratt St. is $25.50 per square foot, compared to $22 per square foot at 25 S. Charles St.

Financial services firm Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. recently left the Legg Mason Tower at 100 Light St. for 76,000 square feet in the Alex Brown Building at 1 South St., according to documents from the Baltimore Development Corp., the city’s economic development arm. Stifel did not return calls for comment.

Robert Manekin, a senior vice president at Staubach, said the tendency to avoid moving generally trumps lower rental costs, unless the move means an upgrade in office space. Expenses such as moving equipment, purchasing new furniture and installing new technology raise the price of relocating, he added, further diminishing a company’s willingness to move.

“A cheaper rent is not usually enough,” Manekin said. “It takes more. “Most people would rather stay where they are than move to less expensive space unless there are significant economic savings by making such a move,” he added. Miller said convenience was the primary force behind Semmes’ move.

The rectangular shape of the M&T Bank Building allows for the expanding firm, which expects to add 15 to 20 attorneys in the next few years, to use space more efficiently, he said. The roughly 60 lawyers at Semmes also spend a great deal of time in Baltimore City courts, which are less than a half-mile from the new office, Miller said.

Down the road, law firm Tydings & Rosenberg LLP was considering a move from its 100 E. Pratt St. location to Wachovia Bank Tower at 7 St. Paul St. last year, but eventually opted to stay on Pratt Street. Lee Lundy, administrative partner at Tydings & Rosenberg, said that after evaluating several sites, the firm determined “any move is very disruptive and costs you in time and distraction.” The overall adjustment to new office space would have cost the firm more than the partners felt they’d save by moving, even if rent costs are cheaper farther away from the harbor, he said.

Lundy declined to provide the firm’s current rent costs. “We looked quite broadly and the economics of being some distance away from where we are now … were not compelling that we should move,” he said
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Old July 9th, 2007, 01:45 PM   #4755
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We should see some Mechanic Theater plans within a month. Sharks are circling the Scottish Rite Temple waiting to bite.

City takes proactive approach to its past
Board considers 5 more properties for preservation

By Jill Rosen, Sun reporter, Originally published July 9, 2007

After a year that dealt Baltimore's preservationists some painful hits, the city is stepping up its effort to protect historic properties - and sites that include a noted African-American church, a South Baltimore park and an old brewery are poised to become "city landmarks."

Though the owner of the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre has put off landmark consideration for that downtown site until next month, Baltimore's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation will consider granting protected status tomorrow to five new locations, after creating only 17 landmarks over the past decade.

Recently, with demolition looming, the commission tried in vain to make a landmark of the 100-year-old Rochambeau apartment building in Mount Vernon and a block of 1820s rowhouses near Mercy Medical Center. Now the commission is attempting to protect deserving buildings before they're threatened. "The biggest question I got with the Rochambeau is people would say, 'You mean to tell me that that building is not a landmark?'" says Johns Hopkins, executive director of Baltimore Heritage, an organization that fought to stop the razing of the Rochambeau last fall and the Mercy houses this year.

"It is a surprise to people that some really important buildings in Baltimore are not covered by the city's preservation ordinances." Though keeping the wrecking ball from Baltimore's architectural and historic treasures is the point of the landmark effort, two of the buildings under consideration could already be in jeopardy.

Developers plan to gut the Mechanic and turn the theater at Charles and Baltimore streets, which closed in 2004, into shops and a residential tower.

Arrow Parking co-owners Benjamin and Melvin Greenwald don't intend to demolish the 40-year-old "brutalist" design building, but critics worry that the additions would destroy the integrity of John Johansen's design and spoil what is to some a symbol of the city's revival.

The Greenwalds asked the preservation commission to delay for a month the hearing on the Mechanic to give them more time to prepare their case. CHAP planner Fred Shoken said the commission agreed only after the developers promised they would not alter the building before the Aug. 14 hearing.

Also, the owners of the Scottish Rite Temple of Freemasonry at Charles and 39th streets are protesting the nomination of their building for landmark status, saying the preservation standards would hinder their efforts to sell it.

John Russell Pope, the architect who designed the grand Beaux-Arts structure, also created the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Jefferson Memorial and Constitution Hall in Washington. City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke nominated the temple after hearing of the Freemasons' plan to sell the building and move to Hunt Valley. "My concern is that the building may get sold and demolished, maybe replaced perhaps by a high-rise," Clarke says. "It would be a great loss."

Dr. Hans Wilhelmsen, the Freemasons' sovereign grand inspector general and a local plastic surgeon, said his organization doesn't necessarily want to see the building torn down, but it can't afford the upkeep on the property.

"What are we going to do when we run out of funds to support this building?" he asked. "If the city wants to put a wedge into what we want to do, we'll stop the maintenance and let it fall down."

He said the group has been offered - but has not accepted - $10 million for the 1932 building from an Arkansas contractor who wants to tear it down and build condominiums.

To become a city landmark, a property must be approved by CHAP, the Planning Commission and the City Council.

Also up for consideration tomorrow:

• Riverside Park: The park, along East Randall Street in South Baltimore, played a role in the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, providing a key vantage point that helped prevent the British from sneaking past Fort McHenry and entering the peninsula. The park began as 3 acres in 1862, originally called Battery Square. The city changed the name in 1873 and added another 14 acres. The park is also known for its Victorian touches, including the pavilion and the entranceways.

• Bolton Square: Residents requested that 35 brick townhouses within the Bolton Hill historic district be nominated for landmark status on their 40th anniversary. In 1969, the modern brick rowhouses designed by Hugh Newell Jacobsen won the American Institute of Architect's national honor award for design

• Union Baptist Church: The Gothic Revival church on 1219 Druid Hill Ave. has been at the center of Baltimore's African-American community since the 1800s - even though the current building was dedicated only in 1905.

The Rev. Harvey Johnson, the pastor there from 1872 to 1923, was a civil rights leader who co-founded the city's branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and was also involved in the beginning of the national civil rights movement. More recently, pastor Vernon Dobson, along with Parren J. Mitchell, used the church to stage an effort to get African-Americans elected to public office in the city.

• American Brewery: One of the last and best examples of the 60 breweries that proliferated across the city from the late 1800s until Prohibition, it was built by brewer John F. Wiessner and Sons in 1887. The brewery is known for its distinctive towers, windows and brickwork, an eclectic style that some call "high Victorian." "It's probably one of the most unique brewery buildings still around in the country," Shoken says.

Michael Murphy, an architect and member of the preservation commission who nominated the Mechanic, said that these potential landmarks should have more significance than "just being interesting buildings in a neighborhood."

"It's got to sort of catalyze the area and really contribute to the public benefit," he said, adding that he hopes people will realize that it's in the city's interest to preserve these sorts of places.

"If there is not a political will for these properties to be protected, it won't happen," he said. "My hope is we'll be able to convince people we're being careful and studious, not just being reactive."

Tomorrow's meeting begins at 1:30 p.m. in the eighth-floor meeting room of the Charles L. Benton Jr. Building, 417 E. Fayette St. The landmark hearings are expected to begin about 3:15 p.m.
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Old July 9th, 2007, 02:11 PM   #4756
MtVernator
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[QUOTE=30 Floors Up;14172350]We should see some Mechanic Theater plans within a month. Sharks are circling the Scottish Rite Temple waiting to bite.

City takes proactive approach to its past
Board considers 5 more properties for preservation

By Jill Rosen, Sun reporter, Originally published July 9, 2007

After a year that dealt Baltimore's preservationists some painful hits, the city is stepping up its effort to protect historic properties - and sites that include a noted African-American church, a South Baltimore park and an old brewery are poised to become "city landmarks."

With all of the amazing unprotected buildings in Baltimore, I would think they could come up with more than just 5 properties.
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Old July 9th, 2007, 03:57 PM   #4757
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Originally Posted by 30 Floors Up View Post
Some are heading the other way.

Moving day for Semmes
Bucking trend, law firm retreating from waterfront

STEVEN OVERLY, Daily Record Business Writer, July 8, 2007 9:00 PM

[snip]
Semmes, Bowen & Semmes is one such law firm. When its lease expires in April, Semmes will move farther from the waterfront, to the M&T Bank Building at 25 S. Charles St. after 20 years at 250 W. Pratt St. Pursuing more economically savvy options did guide the firm’s decision to move in part, said Cleaveland D. Miller, a principal at Semmes, and 25 S. Charles St. proved to be the most cost-effective choice. The firm was also looking at property in Anne Arundel County.
[snip]
Eh. They're giving up their pricey water view (maybe) and snuggling into an uglier building. Distance to the water's edge is about the same, perhaps even a little closer.
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Old July 9th, 2007, 09:07 PM   #4758
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Bump.

just buggs me to see the D.C. thread above ours....




Harborplace numbers take sharp drop
Baltimore Business Journal - July 6, 2007by Julekha DashStaff


Nicholas Griner | Staff
Arundel Mills pulled in the most tourists last year in Greater Baltimore.


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Baltimore City's top tourist attraction drew 1 million fewer visitors in 2006 as the Inner Harbor saw less foot traffic during the peak summer months.

Harborplace and the Gallery drew 12 million visitors in 2006 while its suburban competitor Arundel Mills, located 12 miles away, retained the top spot on the Baltimore Business Journal's List of top tourist attractions by drawing 13.5 million people.






Oh an we're loosing the clipper city ship.....bummer
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Old July 9th, 2007, 09:45 PM   #4759
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Bump.

just bugs me to see the D.C. thread above ours....

Harborplace numbers take sharp drop
Baltimore Business Journal - July 6, 2007by Julekha DashStaff


Oh an we're losing the clipper city ship.....bummer
Right. With many of the shops replaced by could-be-anywhere restaurants, there's less reason to visit HP. Hence the tacky kiosks, I guess.

Not sure we're losing the ship ... the owner said he was on track to make money this year; he'd just taken on too much debt to (ahem) stay afloat. Baltimore is still a good place for the ship, though the new owner may want to over-winter in Florida, as the ship used to.

Vaguely related: Pride of Baltimore II and three other not-quite-as-cool tall ships drew huge crowds this weekend in Portsmouth, NH. Was proud to see the Pride looking good.
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Old July 9th, 2007, 10:39 PM   #4760
Hugh Jaramillo
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Harbor Place

I think the days of the festive marketplace are numbered. Althought when it was first built, Harbor Place was a destination in itself, it has long since been surplanted by other areas like Harbor East with its residential and trendy shopping vibe which is geared more for the locals than the out of town tourist. The last couple of times that I ventured into those pavillions, I was appaled by the tacky nature of most of the shops and the goods that they are flogging. I mean how many sports themed shops can there possibly be in one location to become saturated. How can they possibly think that people are still going to want to buy that crap?
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