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TWO MORE "New Tallest" Proposed For Baltimore (Not by the harbor!)

Developers quietly plan for two city skyscrapers

RWN, Bresler want to erect towers of 60 stories or more near Baltimore’s City Hall

By JEN DEGREGORIO
Daily Record Business Writer

The developers who in 2004 bought a portfolio of Baltimore office buildings once owned by Boxer Property have been quietly buying up more properties downtown in hopes of building the city’s tallest skyscrapers. RWN Development Inc. and Rockville-based Bresler & Reiner Inc. bought or have under contract about 10 properties just north of City Hall. The buildings give them control of nearly two city blocks, on which they are planning to erect two mixed-use towers that could rise 60 stories or higher.

“We want these to be the tallest buildings in Baltimore,” said RWN President Richard Naing. “We want to change that entire side of downtown.” The bustle of downtown fades as one travels north of City Hall along Holliday Street. The area has little street life. Parking lots and drab buildings reign.

But Naing hopes to change all of that. His firm recently bought the Saratoga Court apartment building on the corner of Saratoga Street and Guilford Avenue and the garage beside it. Also under contract is the building beside the garage where nightclub Hammerjacks currently operates on Guilford Avenue. RWN plans to close Hammerjacks on May 29, potentially filling it with a restaurant. On top of that building and the adjacent garage, the developers want to construct a tower that would contain about 1 million square feet of space.

Naing’s plan includes ground level retail, parking, assisted-living units and condominiums. He wants many of the units to be priced somewhat affordably at about $250,000 each. “The secret to the future is affordable housing,” Naing said. Statistics compiled by the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc. echo Naing’s sentiment. Industry experts surveyed by the partnership said condominiums priced at $500,000 and below would do well downtown, while units priced between $750,000 and $800,000 were becoming overbuilt.

RWN also owns the building where Sonar nightclub currently operates on East Saratoga Street. The company and its partner also bought or have under contract about six properties along North Gay and Holliday streets. The properties comprise a large chunk of that block, with East Saratoga Street and an alley bordering the site to the north and south.

There RWN and Bresler plan to build a second tower, also with 1 million square feet of space dedicated to a mix of uses. While Naing’s primary focus is on condominiums, he said he would be open to possible office or hotel uses for the buildings. Before they could materialize, the towers need a good deal of planning and city approvals. But Naing said if everything goes according to schedule, the projects could be under way by 2008 and delivered by 2010.

Architects have not yet been chosen. Naing said he is negotiating with a number of “recognizable international names” to design the towers, which he wants to be “signature properties.” The preliminary idea has already won the support of city development officials.

“I was excited and intrigued about the potential of really activating that area,” said Otis Rolley III, director of the Baltimore Department of Planning. “It comes down to how it is designed, and if it’s done respectfully, it can be a real victory for the developer as well for the city,” Rolley said. RWN and Bresler’s plans follow news that Philadelphia developer ARC Wheeler was approved to build a 59-story condominium tower at the former McCormick spice plant lot along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Both projects speak well of Baltimore’s continued growth, said J. Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore. “It’s further proof of development well beyond the waterfront,” Fowler said of RWN’s planned skyscrapers. “We can definitely afford some taller structures and greater density downtown.”

STRUCTURES WILL RISE BEHIND AND JUST TO THE RIGHT OF CITY HALL DOME
 

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Its great to see that Baltimore is attracting the type of developers who want their building to be Baltimore's tallest.

I wonder how ARCWheeler feels about this. This is pretty great news.
 

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The only thing about this deal is why not build on the parking lot along Guilford?

Why buy those properties, when you have a perfectly good parking lot to destroy?

I hope this puppy barks, but we may need to keep an eye on these guys.
 

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Two more tallests near city hall would balance out the skyline nicely, since 414 Light Street's massive height by itself would sort of throw it off balance.
 

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It looks like the developer has done a couple of projects in Baltimore in the past, but none of this magnitude. This would be HUGE for that area of downtown.

I really want to see these renderings or a site plan or something. Does he plan to build two towers right next to each other? If he does, are these towers gonna be twins or will they be two seperate designs?

I hope they arent twins. I hope one is glass and steel and the other is more classic and traditional.

I want something like these:









 

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I like the 2nd pic and the 3rd. They'd look good there. I also agree with the statement about Guilford Ave., but that may seem just a tad out of rach for some developers, for now. The Central CBD & inner harbor needs to be a little bit more built up before Guilford ave. approaches are made. That would be like Eutaw & Howard having a 60 story builing, cool, but not right now.
 

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seanlax5 said:
I like the 2nd pic and the 3rd. They'd look good there. I also agree with the statement about Guilford Ave., but that may seem just a tad out of rach for some developers, for now. The Central CBD & inner harbor needs to be a little bit more built up before Guilford ave. approaches are made. That would be like Eutaw & Howard having a 60 story builing, cool, but not right now.
I would like to see something along the lines of the 3rd and 4th pictures. Classical and modern side by side would make for a great skyline. 2nd looks too plain and like something I've already seen in B'more.
 

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Furiine said:
Two more tallests near city hall would balance out the skyline nicely, since 414 Light Street's massive height by itself would sort of throw it off balance.
My thoughts exactly. I would love to have the new tallest on the north side of downtown. It helps to show that downtown is just as much of a destination as is the waterfront. Not to mention that the effect produced with 10 inner Harbor would be awesome. I also hope they are not twins. I wouldn't mind seeing two similar towers with different style crowns though, similar to ESB and Chrysler building.
 

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Right now, I'm just praying that this goes through as promised.... two new tallest!! With the real estate market softening, this definitely has the potential to fall through in the next year. That said, the developers' decision to even propose this now speaks volumes about the current strength of Baltimore's renaissance. I sincerely hope that by the time the architects release their renderings, the office market will be strong enough to make this an office/condo/retail project. This would also help ensure that the two buildings aren't identical.

Cross your fingers on this one, guys. This might be the best proposal we see in a long time...
 

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It would be awesome if the two buildings have bright lighting on its crown like the Bank of America Building.
 

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Here is a question for everyone.
"Considering a 60 to 70 story tower, one that has an office component, and the other a mixed use tower, how tall do you think these towers may end up being?

:D
 

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I was thinking that the two mixed use buildings would be 65 floors and 70 floors,
Both signature towers with a ornate roofline from 750 to 800 for he one tower and 825 to 850 for the second tower. Each building is supposed to have about 1 million square feet plus parking.
 
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