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11,737 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here we go again! ;)
Let's start this off right! :)
I'm liking those two newly proposed 60+ story towers AND 10 Inner Harbor!

Hopefully we'll hear more details on these developments. :)


1,521 Posts
Scenic Views, From Atop a Silo

By Sandra Fleishman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 20, 2006; Page F01

Imagine a grain elevator, once the biggest and fastest in the world, jutting 290 feet in the air. Sitting on a peninsula surrounded by working ships, yachts and sailboats. Right next door to a major historical site and across the harbor from a downtown marketplace.

Now imagine that elevator sheathed in glass and metal and converted into about 230 condominiums. Inside, a new lobby, with a restaurant, coffee shops and a front desk, rises 130 feet. It's the same height the main floor was when the elevator operated for some 70 years, carrying processed soybeans, corn and wheat from rail cars to surrounding storage silos and from the silos to oceangoing vessels.

Hard to picture?

Not for Baltimore developer Patrick Turner, who envisions a residential reincarnation of the boxy elevator building and silos used most recently by Archer Daniels Midland Co., one of the world's largest processors of soybeans, corn, wheat and cocoa.

Turner says he believes the one-of-a-kind venture will be hard to resist. "The views are incredible, it's right off I-95, and you're just a few minutes from downtown Baltimore."

He adds: "You can live in a historic condo anywhere in the world, but there is no other grain elevator in the world where you can live." (There is a converted Quaker Oats plant in Akron, Ohio, where you can sleep in a silo, dine in a mill and shop in a factory, but no reports of residential uses, according to a local architect contacted through the American Institute of Architects.)

The Baltimore complex, Silo Point, sits in Locust Point, a once-gritty blue-collar neighborhood next to historic Fort McHenry. It faces Baltimore's downtown, trendy Federal Hill and the Inner Harbor tourist complex on one side, the fort on another, and a brand-new city marine terminal and Interstate 95 to the south. A deteriorating terminal is across the train tracks from the complex on the harbor side, with abandoned piers and a rusting hospital ship, but Turner says the tracks are no longer used and the ship will soon be removed.

On a clear day, Turner says, "you can see the planes landing at BWI and the Loch Raven Reservoir" to the north about 20 miles.

Turner's company has started building and selling 121 townhouses nearby in partnership with Pulte Homes Inc., and is ginning up now to market Silo Point. In a recent interview, he gushed about the condo units in the elevator building itself -- he calls them "lofts in the sky" -- and about top floors with panoramic views. The project will also have condos wrapped around the elevator tower, a 550-car garage linked by a bridge to the tower, and two-level and three-level townhouses sitting atop the garage.

Silo Point is still a bit hard for visitors to comprehend initially, Turner says. But he's taken "hundreds of them" through the abandoned "lobby" and then up 130 feet in an old claustrophobic workers' elevator to the level where the tower condos will start. After visitors climb another four levels of open-tread stairs to get to the roof, he says, "pretty much everyone has the same comment, which is 'wow.' " For those afraid of heights, a warning: Don't look down if you have a chance to climb the steps. Also, the roof penthouses that don't exist yet are already spoken for: by Turner.

The lobby will feature the original octagonal columns that supported the elevator's concrete slab floors and its Rube Goldberg system of shafts and conveyor belts.

The condo units will have ceilings as high as 18 feet, some with floor-to-ceiling windows. Units near the top of the skyscraper will have windows on either side, with views for miles. No other building nearby approaches the 22-story height, and the zoning says no new buildings can be more than 35 feet tall.

Turner is planning to market heavily to the Washington crowd for three big reasons, he says: The I-95 ramp is only a couple of turns away; the prices will run from $399,000 up, which he says is reasonable for the "unique" views; and "it's probably the safest neighborhood here. There's only one way in and one way out."

Turner says Baltimore is in its "second or third generation" of revival, and he thinks it's primed for more. Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland medical school, which he points out from the rooftop during the tour, are growing continuously and drawing private industry.

It is a jolt, though, to see the thin, boxy concrete structure now, standing in a mud field, with its crown of corrugated metal and steel girders and its banks of broken windows, which start halfway up the building.

But the developer has a history of seeing the potential of places such as Federal Hill, where he got in early, and of converting former industrial sites to residential or mixed use. Turner is also involved in redeveloping a massive industrial area nearby called Westport, which would extend the transformation of Baltimore's waterfront from industrial to upscale mixed use. Like Fells Point and Canton, Locust Point has been the focus of concentrated public-private ventures. The result has been potent -- home prices of $600,000 are now considered normal.

Chris Pfaeffle, a principal with Parameter Inc. architects in Baltimore who specializes in "adaptive reuse" of industrial buildings, theaters and schools, has spent 2 1/2 years on the Silo Point design.

You can find Silo Point tucked behind a neighborhood of classic Formstone and brick rowhouses, renovated industrial buildings, still-operating factories, and a mix of old bars and new cafes.

The resurgence shows in for-sale signs and gutted townhouses busy with workmen behind plastic sheeting. A classic Domino Sugar sign sits high above the fray to one side, marking a factory that is still running, while the rejuvenated Phillips Foods Inc. headquarters dominates another corner.

The first glimpse of the elevator itself comes as one you turn a corner into a mostly residential neighborhood. The narrow building peeks up behind the houses.

Two groupings of concrete storage silos sit a short distance from the elevator, the only silos left from what had once been an assemblage of about 180.

Each grouping has eight. They're blackened -- not from soot or decay, but intentionally for protection against the elements, according to Turner. The two sets of silos were kept to anchor the 550-car garage as another reminder of the past. Pfaeffle plans to reinforce the "industrial aesthetic" with other touches, including landscaping with grasses or wheat. He also plans to build a mound of dirt on one side to show "the amount of grain that could be stored in one silo. It will be sort of like an obelisk in Rome."

The architect is repeating the scale of the design elements in the original building wherever possible. "The plant was built on a 16-foot-by-16-foot module," he says. "Every column, every silo is based on that scale. So we have carried that grid to the new construction to preserve the integrity of the project."

Turner bought the 15-acre site from Archer Daniels Midland in 2003 for $6.5 million, according to published reports, and says he expects to spend about $400 million on the transformation. The facility was built in the early 1920s as a transfer station for the B&O Railroad, then passed to two agricultural processing companies. It was shut down in March 2003 by ADM.

Turner says he pestered ADM to sell the elevator while it was still operating because he "could see the industry was changing" and that factories and transportation facilities were being moved from urban areas like Baltimore's. ADM finally agreed after deciding to close it, he says.

The site has been graded down to red mud and a couple of large concrete pads. Turner plans to build on those pads later. About 130,000 square feet of office space and 25,000 square feet of retail space are permitted by current zoning.

1,521 Posts
Outside Pimlico, an Impromptu Market Booms
Enterprising Neighbors Turn Backyard Parking and Shopping-Cart Ferries Into Cash

By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 21, 2006; Page C04

Sean Ham, 13, helps a customer transport drinks at Preakness. He had plenty of neighborhood competition.

The business partner in charge of strategy, Dayonte Campbell, stood on the front steps, one hand around breakfast, a few strips of bacon, and knocked on the door.

"Yo, you ready yet?" he asked the business partner in charge of operations, Oshane Messam, who was standing in his doorway wearing nothing but shorts, yawning and squinting into the 6 a.m. sun yesterday.

"I am totally ready," he said and smiled.

"Go get dressed ," Campbell said.

Messam turned to go inside, then pointed at the bacon.

"Save me some."

"I ain't saving you nothing. Let's go."

It was that day again, no time to waste. The big day. Preakness Day, or for the residents in the working-class homes around Pimlico racetrack in Baltimore, the biggest hustling day of the year. They would not be betting on horses, or even make it inside the track, but Campbell, 17, and Messam, 16, friends and neighbors on Winner Avenue, were about to make some money.

There was no shortage of ways to accomplish this task, what with thousands of people flooding into their neighborhood flush with cash and boozy enthusiasm. Nearly every local seemed to have an angle: curried goat, jerk chicken, bottled water, straw hats. All for sale, just today. Backyard parking spaces sold for $10 to $100, depending on the size of the car.

"Last year I think we made close to $3,000," said Carolyn Seawell, 45, who was charging $2 a head for people to use her bathroom, just one of several industries -- from potato salad to shuttle buses -- that she was involved in yesterday. "Some of the people went to the bathroom on the lawn, but those who were coherent enough went inside."

But Campbell and Messam are in the shopping cart business -- a service, not a product. When the blond girl in the "Preaknasty" tank top or the guy wearing the loin cloth can't quite muster the strength to carry 10 cases of Miller Light from the bus to the infield, the young partners step up and say: "You guys need some help?"

The two were not alone. Around the track, dozens if not hundreds of people, from gray-haired men to little girls, pushed all manner of shopping carts -- Giant, Safeway, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Kmart, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar -- not to mention hand trucks, rolling garbage cans and little red wagons.

Last year, Campbell and Messam made $450 carting in coolers in the morning and wheeling out drunk celebrants after the race.

Their tool of trade is a large orange Home Depot shopping cart that Messam, a sophomore Northwestern High School in Baltimore, keeps year-round behind his house. He cannot recall just exactly where it came from. About a mile from their block, Ray Key, manager of Food King grocery store on Northern Parkway, has an inkling.

I've been here 15 years, and [people have] been taking shopping carts for 15 years," he said. "It's a tradition."

With their cart secured, the entrepreneurs move on to the strategy. There are rules to this game, and that's where Campbell comes in.

"He's more of the brawn, and I'm the brains," said Campbell, who left high school in 10th grade and now stocks groceries at Giant and takes classes at Baltimore City Community College. Not only are the carts heavy, but walking alone down his street with $450 is not a good idea, he said. "I can defend myself, but I can't defend myself against someone too big. That's brawn's job."

"Brawn wins over brains, I'd like to point out," Messam said.

Other things Campbell has learned: Kids in polo shirts tend not to want to carry things, so watch for them. Be assertive but not pushy. The prohibited parking lots -- the ones with the buses of college kids -- are where you want to be. Always remind potential customers how long a walk they are facing and just how heavy the cooler is. And stay away from other shopping carts.

"It's like hunting, really, like animals in the wild. You got two lions trying to get a zebra, and you got competition," Campbell said. "We don't want competition."

For a black teenager asking for money amid what is predominantly a white, wealthier crowd, there is another, more complex rule, the partners said: Don't be flashy.

"You've got to pull off the whole, 'I'm poor. I need some money.' You can't roll up wearing bling bling and expect to get paid," said Messam, wearing baggy jeans and a knit cap over his dreadlocks.

But it is not all an act. The households in the several blocks around the two teenagers' brick rowhouses are 93 percent black, with a per capita income of $11,606, according to Census figures. One commercial block not far away houses Discount Liquors next to Coast to Coast Bail Bonds next to Pimlico Loan pawnshop.

Messam lives with several relatives who, like him, emigrated from Jamaica. Campbell lives with his grandmother, two younger siblings and his mother, who he said is unemployed and takes business management classes at the same community college he attends.

One day, Campbell wants to design video games. But yesterday, stepping over a carpet of beer cans, he had another idea.

"What I'm going to do next year is put my stocks in Bud Light and Miller Lite before the Preakness," he said.

For this year, the shopping cart ferry service had its own hazards. For the first two hours, when the energetic do-it-yourselfers arrived, rejection was constant. At one point Campbell spotted and then ducked away from an old class bully ("He's strong"); minutes later Messam turned the cart around briskly and said, "Ex-girlfriend alert!"

In the bus parking lot, a burly attendant with a gray mustache grabbed the cart handle.

"Get that cart out of here!" he yelled.

"Take it easy, man," Messam said.

"See that cop over there? You want him to make you take it easy?" the attendant asked.

Once outside the gate, the entrepreneurs had to resort to tossing the cart over a six-foot-high chain-link fence to get it back in the parking lot, then jumping over themselves. "Gotta make a buck," Messam said.

"It's so irritating. I'm surrounded by money, but I just can't pull any in," Campbell said.

Finally, a group of guys from the University of Delaware agreed to put their four coolers of Keystone Light in the Home Depot cart. One cooler tumbled onto the ground while the teenagers pushed the cart across a patch of gravel -- to shouts of "Refund!" -- but eventually the transaction was complete. Five dollars, plus a $2 tip. The sun shone through the clouds. It was 9:01 a.m.

"Pretty good for the first go-round," Campbell said.

Staff researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.

250 Posts
Silver Springer said:
Will Preakness move from Baltimore if they build that horse track in Anne Arundel?
I really hope not. Baltimore is the true home of the Preakness. I really hope Pimlico goes under serious renovations like Churchill Downs not long ago.

2,887 Posts
Great Preakness article. Although, I really hate the fact that the city reaps the fiscal benefits of the Preakness, but the neighborhood NEVER, EVER sees any of those funds return in the way of investment in the community.

I read that over $100mm is roughly how much money the Preakness brings in with wagering, concessions, tickets, etc. Thats not even considering all of the hotels that are booked solid or the resturants that are patronized or the money spent in shops.
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