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Old August 8th, 2007, 12:02 PM   #5281
StevenW
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Here we go, ... again....

HarborView tower plan is blocked
Mayor intervenes, seeks to achieve compromise


By Jill Rosen | Sun reporter
August 8, 2007

To the relief of many in South Baltimore, Mayor Sheila Dixon has blocked a plan to build two more waterfront towers at HarborView.

Faced with intense community opposition, the mayor pushed HarborView's developer, Richard A. Swirnow, to rescind his request to the City Council that would have enabled him to keep building even though he technically had exhausted his construction options.


"I have decided to withdraw [the bill] and instruct the Planning Department and Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods to bring all parties together to find common ground," Dixon wrote in a letter to a community leader who opposes the proposal.

"Our goal should be an unambiguous, enforceable and market driven plan that produces high quality mixed-use development that strengthens the historic ties between South Baltimore and the waterfront," she wrote. "To accomplish this vision, we must balance the development interests with ample provision for public open space, view, access corridors and neighborhood oriented retail."

Dixon's move follows an acrimonious hearing on the bill in June before a City Council committee. Community leaders from a number of neighborhoods condemned HarborView's $100 million proposal and accused Swirnow of trying to change the rules of the game.

To build two new 26-story condominium towers, Swirnow needs the council to let him cover more of the lot's surface and build towers closer together than his original 1980s urban renewal plan allows.

Under that plan, Swirnow will use up his space when he builds the Pinnacle, a recently approved 17-story condo building, where the most expensive suite is expected to cost $7 million.

Swirnow argues that he's entitled to the third and fourth high-rises because the 1980s plan gave him permission to build six tall buildings. Although during the weak 1990s real estate market he built mainly townhouses, using up his allotted space, Swirnow insists he still has a right to the towers.

Frank Wise, HarborView's vice president, said yesterday that Swirnow is willing to reconsider the project.

"It's a disappointing state of affairs but one which we recognize needs to be worked through with everyone involved," Wise said. "I don't think it's in anyone's interest ... not to see prime waterfront sites developed."


Extreme aversion
In the midst of a Democratic primary this summer, Dixon has been concerned about the community's extreme aversion to this project and its skepticism about the city's interactions with HarborView.
To calm tensions, she invited neighborhood leaders to a chat after the June council hearing, during which community leaders discovered that while they were meeting with Dixon's staff to bounce around a compromise idea, city planners were actually signing the deal with HarborView.

At the chat, Dixon announced to residents that the city would not sell its Fire Department's repair facility on Key Highway to developers. The mayor reiterated this pledge in her letter detailing the bill's withdrawal, saying she wants the city to have an "insurance policy of sorts" - so unless other parks are built along the nearby waterfront, she'll reserve the site, which is about as big as a city block, as open space.

Paul Robinson, the founder of Friends of Federal Hill Park, praised Dixon yesterday for "reaching out in such a constructive manner." He said he appreciated her continued commitment to provide open space and her listening to people's concerns.

"She appears to have ... heard our arguments," he said.



No more building
Robinson insists, however, that the community is not willing to consider any proposal that would allow Swirnow to build more on the site than he's now entitled to.
"The majority of our residents are absolutely opposed to any further construction on the HarborView site," he said. "Ultimately we can sit down and discuss ideas that involve no further construction on the HarborView site."


City Councilman Edward L. Reisinger, who sides with his constituents opposed to the plan, called the death of the legislation a victory for the community.

Though the bill appeared to be stalled in the council's urban affairs committee since the June hearing, Reisinger said he was prepared to have it voted down on the floor if it came to that.

"If he wants to do anything, he's going to have to start over again and work with community," Reisinger said of Swirnow.

Dixon's spokesman Anthony McCarthy said that although the community and HarborView "obviously are far apart right now," the mayor believes she can help them reach an agreement on the site's future.

"We need to back up in this process," McCarthy said. "[The mayor] believes that with upfront, honest dialogue on the issues, there is always room for movement. But everyone has to be willing to hear each other."

Reisinger isn't so sure that philosophy will work in this case.

"When pigs fly," he said. "That's when Swirnow and the community will find common ground."



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Old August 8th, 2007, 12:06 PM   #5282
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Why not just compromise and build just one tower? A 52 story tower. Slender, tall with plenty of "open space" left over for people. That would be my suggestion/solution.

Anyone else have any ideas?
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Old August 8th, 2007, 03:03 PM   #5283
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Shes pretty much obligated to block it till sept 11.. shes got an election to win you know.
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Old August 8th, 2007, 03:40 PM   #5284
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenW View Post
Why not just compromise and build just one tower? A 52 story tower. Slender, tall with plenty of "open space" left over for people. That would be my suggestion/solution.

Anyone else have any ideas?
a tower that big would be way out of scale over there, especially without some "companion" towers to go with it. at that height, the tower would be visible from all over the place in the federal hill historic district, which would raise all sorts of issues.

i think they need to compromise by getting harborview to do the following:

1. develop the parcel on the opposite side of key highway (in front of digital harbor high school) into a first class mixed-use project. retail on the first floor, with 8-10 stories of condos and flats above. this site has the potential to be a catalyst for future redevoplment along key highway.

2. allow two smaller towers to go up, which would frame a new green space that would extend on a pier out into the water. each tower would be slender and "light" at their base, with bars and restaurants with cafe tables.

3. instead of asking for an certain acreage of open space, i'd trade the amount of open space for an open space with first class materials and amenities. i'd trade a larger green space for a smaller one with lots of cool things going on any day.

4. have them chip in to redesign key highway into the pedestrian friendly promenade and gateway that it should be. the street lacks character....just look at boston street in comparison!
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Old August 8th, 2007, 03:44 PM   #5285
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenW View Post
Here we go, ... again....

HarborView tower plan is blocked
Mayor intervenes, seeks to achieve compromise


By Jill Rosen | Sun reporter
August 8, 2007

[snip]"Our goal should be an unambiguous, enforceable and market driven plan that produces high quality mixed-use development that strengthens the historic ties between South Baltimore and the waterfront," she wrote. "To accomplish this vision, we must balance the development interests with ample provision for public open space, view, access corridors and neighborhood oriented retail."[snip]
"Historic ties" is a canard. Since the first shipyard was built at the foot of Federal Hill (then "John Smith Hill") in the 1770s, SoBo's relationship to the waterfront was, that was where your father (and in some cases, your mother) went to work: in shipyards, canneries, machine shops, etc. Today, we're talking about light, air, views, recreation, and the property values related thereto: a whole new beast.

P.S. Folsom: I was with you up until #4 ... the lack of character isn't in the street itself, it's in the buildings that frame it.

P.P.S. I think Steven's on to something ... if the tower closer to the existing one and the Pinnacle were to go higher, those two would be the companion towers for it. Could work. 52 stories doesn't screw up your view any more than 26 do.


Last edited by jamie_hunt; August 8th, 2007 at 03:49 PM.
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Old August 8th, 2007, 04:13 PM   #5286
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A 52 floor tower may be a little out of place but I think that is the only way both sides can get what they want. Also, that would compliment 10 IH very nice I think(assuming it is going to get built).
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Old August 8th, 2007, 06:16 PM   #5287
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Perhaps a comporomise with the community would be to have HV build a public park on the East parcel (Bottom left on above aerial) and then allow him to build the building up near Digial Harbor High. That site is already a platform for a tower with foundations, so the money there has already been spent so it really has to end up being a tower.
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Old August 8th, 2007, 06:40 PM   #5288
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Quote:
Originally Posted by folsomfanatic View Post
a tower that big would be way out of scale over there, especially without some "companion" towers to go with it. at that height, the tower would be visible from all over the place in the federal hill historic district, which would raise all sorts of issues.
Yes, I would have to agree with this alot. Fifty-two stories on that side of the harbor just wouldn't work. Fifty-two stories would really do the city some justice in the central business district (hint: One Light Street). However, Jamie made a good point as well. Fifty-two stories doesn't screw up your view any more than twenty-six stories would.
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Old August 8th, 2007, 08:03 PM   #5289
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Did you know that when they built the Ritz Carlton they disturbed the last piece of virgin shoreline on the Harbor?

It was probably about 20' long or so.
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Old August 8th, 2007, 08:11 PM   #5290
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Speaking of the Ritz Carlton, they have photos up on their website (www.harborluxury.com)from their model opening event that took place about a month ago.
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Old August 8th, 2007, 08:59 PM   #5291
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterSmith View Post
Speaking of the Ritz Carlton, they have photos up on their website (www.harborluxury.com)from their model opening event that took place about a month ago.


looks like the ritz will be a true melting pot........lolz
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Old August 8th, 2007, 09:01 PM   #5292
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The thing I like the most about the RC is that you don't need keys to get into your condo. They ahve thumbprint readers.
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Old August 8th, 2007, 09:20 PM   #5293
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looks like the ritz will be a true melting pot........lolz
Haha, I thought the same thing.
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Old August 8th, 2007, 09:27 PM   #5294
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DemolitionDave View Post
Did you know that when they built the Ritz Carlton they disturbed the last piece of virgin shoreline on the Harbor?

It was probably about 20' long or so.
Dave,

Is this a joke along the lines of:

Q: Why wasn't Jesus born in (name of country)?
A: They couldn't find a virgin and three wise men.

Or, was there a piece of shoreline pretty much untouched for four centuries?

Inquiring minds ...
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Old August 8th, 2007, 10:30 PM   #5295
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DemolitionDave View Post
The thing I like the most about the RC is that you don't need keys to get into your condo. They ahve thumbprint readers.
Demolition Dave, you must be easily impressed. You can buy those thumbprint reader locks for your house at any Home Depot or Lowes. As a matter of fact we're thinking of getting one to replace an old conventional lock that we have on our back door. They're really neat because you never have to worry about forgetting your keys and being locked out and then having to call a locksmith, which happened to me once.
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Old August 8th, 2007, 10:43 PM   #5296
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Yeah, but RC's thumbprint locks will change colors to coordinate with whatever the resident is wearing that day.

Thing I like about RC (based on the video in the "Tour" link) is that Harbor Point will become densely wooded when RC opens. Federal Hill park, too.

/sarc
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Old August 8th, 2007, 11:11 PM   #5297
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LOL!
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Old August 8th, 2007, 11:11 PM   #5298
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffbaltimore View Post
Perhaps a comporomise with the community would be to have HV build a public park on the East parcel (Bottom left on above aerial) and then allow him to build the building up near Digial Harbor High. That site is already a platform for a tower with foundations, so the money there has already been spent so it really has to end up being a tower.
I like your "park" idea, Jeff. That would look good, IMHO.
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Old August 9th, 2007, 12:03 AM   #5299
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It was just alongside the old propeller repair shop. It was untouched (or so they claim)

Speaking of which, what ever happened to the big propellor that used to sit next to the building?
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Old August 9th, 2007, 12:26 AM   #5300
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Maybe they sold it on Ebay!
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