The New Look of Wells St.

| February 17, 2012 | 10 Comments

Wells St., because of the geographical boundaries formed by the CSX train tracks, is at the back end of Federal Hill/SoBo.  And let me say, “back end” is a great way to describe it based on the way it has looked for at least the last ten years.  It consisted of a stamping and enameling building that was a boarded up wall of blight, an old block-long slaughter house that was half torn down with a forest of weeds and a castle with bricked-up or frosted out windows.  Let’s be honest, the area looked horrible and didn’t help the image of one of the safest areas in Baltimore.

Today Wells St. is a completely different story.  That boarded up stamping and enameling building became 101 Wells, the old slaughter house is set to become 1901 South Charles Street and plans are in the works for a brewery pub at the bricked-up old castle.  The National Federation for the Blind even put a shiny new addition on their building facing Wells St.  There is also a great new bar, Hersh’s Pizza and Drinks, on Light St. that faces Wells St.  What was once the ugly part of town is now becoming  a center for action.

Josh Fidler of Chesapeake Realty Partners,  the developers of 1901 South Charles Street, joined me so I could get all the latest on this big new project.  The development will be a Class A apartment building with 193 residential units and 290 parking spots.  The building will be approximately 60% 1-bedroom units and 40% two-bedroom units.

So busting out the calculator, that’s about 116 1-bedroom units and 77 two-bedroom units.  So when it comes to parking, that is 290 parking spots for approximately 270 bedrooms.  Sure there will probably be some couples in 1-bedroom units, but there will also probably be some tenants without cars – who can utilize the building’s first floor bike room – or who can ride the Circulator or bus to downtown or Harbor East.

Additionally when it comes to parking, they have created a new street called Winder St., which runs behind 1901 South Charles St.  There will be car charging stations on this street as well as potential parking spots for the general public.  In other good parking news, Marshall St. will be extended down the east side of the building which will also creating parking spots.  Residents of the 1900 block of Light St. will now have car access to their back alley.  With 13 houses on the 1900 block, 13 parking spots could be created.  All Wells St. and Charles St. parking will remain intact and we should pick up a few extra spots as a few on Wells St. that were previously blocked for old entrances to the slaughter house will open.  So I, like many of you who worried about the parking ramifications of this building, should rest assured that Chesapeake Realty Partners have really done a great job of easing that situation.

Update:  Area 30 Parking’s Facebook Page is reporting that they will charge $100 per space.  We’ll keep a close eye on this and its effects on street parking.

Now that I addressed parking, I know many of you will finish the article and avoid throwing your laptop and calling Councilman Cole.  So let’s continue… 1901 South Charles Street will be a luxury Class A building.  Prices will range from $1200/month for a 475-square foot 1-bedroom to $2200 a month for a 2-bedroom loft with stunning skyline views.   You can expect units to have luxury-level features. The building will also feature a very large furnished courtyard, demonstration kitchen, art gallery, yoga room, fitness center and first floor bike storage room.

1901 South Charles Street expects to have a presence in the area starting this spring.  They will sponsor softball teams as well as some events at Riverside Park.  The units will begin leasing this summer with the first tenants expected by the end of the summer.  At that point, it will take 4-5 months to launch the remainder of the building.

As many of you have seen and stressed out about, the building has a HUD sign in the front of it.  Have no worries, however, as this is a Class A, market-rate building.  This building has been financed by HUD, similar to many of the nicest buildings in the city.

The other property on Wells St. that appears close to development is the old Pabst’s Castle on the corner of Wells St. and Charles St. There are currently plans for a brewery and pub called Chesapeake Craft Brewers.  The pub will feature German-style long picnic tables, as well as an outdoor seating area in the nook the building has along Wells St.  As of the SBNA meeting on 2/7 , they are in process of applying for a restaurant license, have not yet had their zoning approved and have not been licensed to brew beer.  So you can expect some neighborhood resistance to this new spot – the 1800 block of Charles St. already petitioned the neighbors when an attempt to move Baja Beach Club’s liquor license to the property and parking is an ongoing concern.  We’ll see what happens!

The remaining undeveloped properties on Wells St. are the old McCall office and warehouse across the street from 1901 South Charles St. and a plumbing supplies warehouse on Charles St. across from 1901 South Charles Street. Both are currently utilized.  We’ll see if those are eventually converted to mixed-use development – but one thing is for sure, their property values are about to go up!

A look at the old slaughter house before the renovation


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Rendering of the same corner after the renovation

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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