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An old Baltimore proposal that never was built.


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This is courtesy of Eerik. He has a fountain of Baltimore development knowledge.

And I appreciate that. :)

Here is what he says:

In regard to an earlier cited article above (Monday story by Ed Gunts, "More apartments set for downtown"), here I'd like to lament how disappointed I am the earlier proposed building didn't get built on this site.

Gunts already goes into the details of the project, however he cites a shorter version of the proposed tower at 29 stories (in all there several heights proposed -- generally a downward trend from 32 stories -- as Attman repeatedly tried to squeeze his building-footprint on the southeast corner of Charles and Redwood Streets).

As originally proposed:

Name: Baltimore Financial Centre

Size: 480,000 square feet

Height: 32 stories

Architect: Ayers-Saint-Gross

Cost: $76 million

Projected Construction Date: 1990

Projected Completion Date: 1993

Developer: Charles/Redwood Limited Partnership

(Leonard Attman, Albert Kishter and Lowell Glazer)

In hindsight, perhaps it's better the tower was never built. All those headaches: granting Redwood Street air-rights to Attman, eliminating the view for tenants of 25 S. Charles Street, not to mention the demolition of the Charles DeWitt & Co. warehouse/building! Perhaps Baltimore is better off? It's still tempting to consider what could have been...

Baltimore Financial Centre

Yes, "Baltimore Financial Centre" would have been a wonderful addition to the Baltimore skyline. The tiered-intricate roofline would have been illuminated at night, appearing as a cascading waterfall. Of all the buildings I wish had been built in Baltimore...this is probably at the top of the list.

Of course the drawback would have been using the bed of Redwood Street for the base of the tower. As the second photo from the top shows, the building would have extended some 20 feet over the sidewalk plus another 20 feet onto Redwood Street. As Gunts cites in his article above, everyone feared it would be bad precedent to sell public streets to private developers.

All of this was because Attman needed a large building footprint to facilitate building height. So when he couldn't get permission to purchase Redwood Street, he had the architects redesign the tower. The original aim was 32+ storied. As the base of the building became smaller, so did the stories, from 32 to 29 to 25, and then 22.

For Attman, first he faced opposition from Baltimore City regarding use of Redwood Street. Then nearby property owners who didn't want competition that would reduce asking prices for their rentable square footage, and later where property owners were facing large chunks of empty office space due to the economy. The last thing they wanted was nearly half a million square feet of additional space 'next door'. (Not to mention that such a tower would block views for everyone in the corridor, hence further reducing the price per square foot.)

Keep in mind we're talking about the early 1990s: the Baltimore economy was literally being ransacked. Baltimore lost more jobs (at one time) in that decade than most could remember. As late as 1990 there was talk about Baltimore being the financial heart of the region. Fueling the large regional banks (of the time) were the armies of accounting firms, legal firms, and other services that fueled the economy. It was HOT! People demanded space.

But them came the downturn, the recession, and deregulation that saw almost every local Baltimore bank purchased by larger out-of-town banks. With layoffs, mergers and corporate departures, downtown property owners were left with a lot of empty offices. Attman's plans remained in limbo as the Baltimore economy worsened. Then in the mid-1990s USF&G joined the wave after wave of bad corporate news for the city: USF&G announced they were going to vacate their signature tower at Pratt and Light Streets and leave downtown altogether. The prospect of dumping so much square footage at one time was unthinkable. The USF&G Tower (now Legg Mason Tower) being less than two blocks from the property helped drive down demand. First National Bank of Maryland (later AllFirst) and now M&T Bank could not help but seize the offer and purchase the adjoining Attman properties around their building at 25 S. Charles Street. By purchasing 15, 17 and 19 S. Charles Streets along with the old Hansa Haus, First National Bank of Maryland assumed greater control of their "profile" in the center of the business district.

As to if a tower will be built on that site? I doubt it, especially if this apartment plan comes to fruition. Also, the market for office space (on that scale) simply does exist in downtown Baltimore at the moment. The only hope that plans could change come from the Gunts article where M&T Bank Sr. VP Keith Belanger states, "We didn't have the same vision that AllFirst did with respect to this block." So who knows, maybe the apartment plan could fall-through and suddenly another mix-use is proposed for the site...

However for the time being, any hope for tall buildings in Baltimore will come in the form of hotels or apartment buildings, if even then...

In terms of the photos, they're from a vast private collection I maintain. Over the years I've collected and catalogued them as a hobby. I'm slowly moving toward an online archive; right now I'm digitizing the collection. One day, perhaps, it will be finished...assuming the copyright police don't get me first!


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That was a nice builiding. It's amazing that corpoarate fat cats still are allowed to play the golden parachute game at the expense of eveyone else, customers, employees, cities and their residents. Even after Enron, Auther Anderson and so many others, big time CEOs are still fleecing the US.

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