Day By Day

Friday, February 17, 2006

Latest From the Harbor -- The Building Boom Accelerates

"She Who Shall Not Be Named" and her walking buddies are all abuzz about a new hotel/condo project coming to our neighborhood this summer. Already there are nearby projects by Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons underway. This new one will be by the ARC Wheeler group out of Philly. The new proposed building will be the tallest in the city.

Today's Sun has some details of the project approved yesterday by the city's design panel. It will be 59 stories, 717 feet tall, and shaped like a parallelogram.
[T]he 1.3 million-square-foot-building would have 285 luxury and loft condominiums with high ceilings, large expanses of clear glass, balconies and roof terraces enclosed by clear glass railings. The first eight floors of the tower would contain a 192-room boutique hotel. The base would include 74,600 square feet of ground-level and second-floor shops, including a restaurant, possibly a gourmet grocery store and about 800 above-grade parking spaces. The base would also include a restaurant pavilion on the southeastern corner, with frontage along Charles and Conway streets open to stores. The developer plans to landscape the half-acre roof of the tower's base and put a pool, spa and fitness center next to the garden.
Read about it here.

Yeah, and for at least the next year and a half our neighborhood will be an unholy mess. Should be good for property values, though, and based on what I hear it will be set back far enough that won't mess with our view of the harbor. And, a hidden benefit, we won't have to put up with those damn Hollywood celebrities any more.

Actually, they couldn't ask for a better location -- right on the Harbor, and the north side of the building will front on the major pedestrian route between the Harbor and Camden Yards, only three blocks away. That walkway could become a retailer's heaven. I have long wondered why it hasn't been exploited before. Of course, much of the area is taken up by the Convention Center and a Federal Reserve Bank. But the Hyatt, which fronts the north side of Conway, was silly enough to use that frontage for a parking lot. The new developers aren't making that mistake. I'm also interested in their plans to open Charles Street to stores. Right now the area is a commercial dead zone.

To give you some idea of how much this will change the urban landscape I include a picture of the West side of the Harbor. The red building on the left is the Harbor Court. It is 29 stories tall. The tallest building on the right is the Legg Mason tower, currently the tallest building in the city. The new building will go right between them, in the center of the picture, and will be more than twice as tall as either [see the architect's model on the right]. I could have photoshopped in some towering Sauronesque image, but I'll leave that to your imagination.

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