South Baltimore Development Roundup

| March 12, 2012 | 1 Comments

Here are some updates on all the scaffolding, construction trucks and ladders up in the area:

Lawrence St. Ready for Big Changes

Most people I’ve spoken with in the area have never heard of Lawrence St., which isn’t surprising.  Lawrence St. is the quick cut-through that goes from Key Highway to the Southside Shopping Center (I’m pretty sure Joe Flacco could hit Torrey Smith in stride from one end of Lawrence St. to the other… I’d just hope they stop at Harborque on the way back to the huddle!)  Even though most people never put two thoughts into Lawrence St., it shows how sizzling hot SoBo real estate is when a little street like that is about to have three big developments close to breaking ground.

An office building with a first floor Walgreens is planned for the west corner of Lawrence St.  This will be developed by Caves Valley Partners and construction is scheduled to start in the fall or whenever American Infrastructure, the contractor for the Fort Ave. bridge, gets their equipment off the lot.  If you’ve been following the bridge replacement, chances are there will be a delay.   We’ll have more info on the project soon.

More Info from the Locust Point Civic Association Presentation by Caves Valley:

Although not technically in Locust Point, Arsh Mirmiran stopped by the meeting to present plans for Riverside Wharf at Lawrence St. and Key Hwy. in Riverside.  The building plans included a 14,000 square foot Walgreens across the ground level of the development.  The Walgreens will have 60 designated parking spots and will not feature a drive-thru, although there will be an easy entrance into the store from the garage. The lease with Walgreens has already been signed.

The building will be three stories high. The upper levels will include two floors of office space with 90 designated parking spots.  The parking garage will extend to the second floor at a portion of the building.  Also the developer of 1111 Light Street, Mirmiran believes that medical offices will be perfect for the 25,000 square feet of available office space.

The design of the building will have the feeling of an old industrial wharf.  There will be a brick facade along Key Hwy., Boyle St., Harvey St. and Lawrence St. and there will be a modern looking curve at the corner of Key and Lawrence.  The curve did not go over well today with Baltimore’s Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel so they will be making changes for a more industrial feel throughout.

The building will be surrounded by trees and the roof will be green (made of vegetation.) There will also be an outdoor arcade-style area facing Harvey St. The project is hoping to start this fall and will take 11-12 months to complete.


Right behind the Walgreens lot is the future site of 14 town homes in the parking lot of Rallos.   The project went before zoning on February 7th and the owners are hoping to have the homes finished by early 2013.  The homes will include roof decks and two-car garages. The site will also feature a landscaped interior court.

Rumors have been swirling about an apartment building on the old GE site at the eastern corner of Lawrence and Fort Ave.  Many of you know this spot as the random gravel lot across the street from The Foundry.  I’m hearing it should be officially announced very soon and we’ll know more details at that point.  A source also told me that since it is a brownfield, the first floor will be a garage with the apartments sitting on top of the garage.

Update: The Daily Record is reporting that the building will have 200 apartment units and street level retail.

Wells St. Coming Along

We wrote an extensive article on the future of Wells St. last month, but we figured we’d give you some updates.  It appears the Pabst Castle brewery pub project has officially started.  The three-person ownership group introduced themselves at the last SBNA meeting and vowed to have at least 10 parking spots available for the restaurant patrons.  Exterior work started on the castle today as crews were out there power washing the bricks clean.  Should be fun to watch – I’ve been waiting a long time to see the restoration of that castle!

1901 South Charles Street is humming along.  The framing and roofing is almost completely finished and brick work has started along the 1900 block of Charles.  The apartments are scheduled to begin occupancy in August and we’ve been promised a tour upon completion.  Should be interesting to see what happens with the enormous warehouse across Wells St. from 1901 South Charles St.  The warehouse is currently home to a few storage businesses and a gazillion tires from the Baltimore Grand Prix.

Raffel Building

In response to the many requests from our readers, is in the process of putting together an article about the Raffel Building which is the big (and ugly) abandoned warehouse at Heath and Clarkson St.  The Raffel Building was home to the inventor of the cardboard box and stayed very busy years ago shipping products from McCormick, Domino and Proctor & Gamble onto the railroad tracks along Race St.  We will have more information soon, but there is a plan and an ownership group in place.

Should be interesting to see how the many projects on the southwest end of SoBo effects several other industrial properties on Hanover St.  There are several large industrial lots taking up entire blocks on the western side of the 1800 and 1900 block of Hanover St.  All were purchased and ready for development five or six years ago, but have since gained new industrial tenants.

You Won’t Have to Pick Out the Shells Soon!

In talks with a local realtor, and using my own eyes, it is apparent the shell market is sizzling hot in South Baltimore again.  For those not familiar with the lingo, a shell is a home that needs a gut rehab and is typically sold for at least 100K less than market value.  Unlike North Baltimore homes, South Baltimore homes were built very modestly, often with one bathroom, walk-through bedrooms and short basements.

There aren’t many shells left in South Baltimore, but if you walk around you can see a good amount of construction crews and dumpsters canvasing the neighborhood.  The few shells that are left are being purchased in high quantities by investors and flipped for purchase or rental.  Hopefully the investors take better care of the shells here in SoBo than they did in Pigtown and Reservoir Hill. The best outcome of the housing slump in my opinion is that it took all the amateur investors out of the game!



About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of, 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 [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.