Nine-Story Locust Point Project on Woodall Street Approved by the Baltimore Zoning Board

| September 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

Despite the protest by many Locust Point residents, the Baltimore City Board of Municipal & Zoning Appeals (BMZA) approved a plan from Goodier Properties this week to construct a new nine-story, mixed-use structure with 28 dwelling units; office and retail space at 1401-1407 Woodall St.; and a five-story parking garage on the adjoining lot. The proposed development would take the place of two less-than two-story industrial buildings and a vacant lot that face E. Key Hwy., Woodall St., and Stevenson St.

1401 Woodall St. has a C-2 zoning which allows 60 ft. of commercial use with a conditional use of up to 100 ft. with mixed-use residential. That conditional use was approved by the commissioners of the BMZA. The adjoining lots, where the parking garage would be located, have an I-1 zoning.

The new building and garage would abut a home on Stevenson St. and would be separated from a home on Woodall St. by a small alley. A total of 77 houses sit on the 1400 blocks of Woodall and Stevenson St. which are each one-way streets.

“We are really pleased with the board’s ruling and we are looking forward to getting the ball rolling on the project,”  said Goodier Properties Principal Dan Goodier in an email. “We are planning on commencing demolition of the existing buildings in the next month. We have quite a bit of design and architecture work left to do on the building before we can pin down a firm timeframe on that, but we are hopeful that we can get started in early 2019.  Given the strength and volume of the opposition to the project, we are especially open to continued discussions with the community stakeholders with the hopes that we can address their concerns as the project proceeds.”

More than 30 Locust Point residents attended the hearing in protest of the project, including many residents of the 1400 blocks of Woodall and Stevenson St. A Locust Point Civic Association petition opposing the project has more than 240 signatures. District 11 Councilman Eric Costello wrote a letter to BMZA in opposition and Domino Sugar, which is adjacent to the project site, also wrote a letter in opposition.

Staff reports from BMZA recommended disapproving the project due to the “looming effect” of a nine-story building adjacent to two-story rowhomes. “It’s a psychological impact,” said Eric Tiso, Division Chief of Land Use & Urban Design for the Baltimore City Planning Department.

The BMZA hearing lasted more than an hour and featured many testimonies from the project team and Locust Point residents.

“This is a small residential area,” said Attorney John C. Murphy who was representing LPCA. “The problem is with the height and bulk. The neighbors feel threatened.”

“My home is my only and largest investment,” said Brooke Johnson who lives on Woodall St. “This was not expected and does not fit into our community.”

Anthony Vittira, who lives two houses down from the development site, said, “The looming impact is huge. We all know each other, we have block parties. This will ruin the neighborhood.”

LPCA Board of Directors Member and Design Review Committee Member Justin Grossman, who lives on the surrounding block with his wife and five-year-old son who he noted attends Baltimore City Schools, said, “This will ruin our quiet street life. We would be forced to leave.”

Will Joval, who chairs the Design Review Committee for LPCA, talked about LPCA’s track record of working with developers on many projects in the neighborhood, but said this project is just too big. “It should be a more apporopriately scaled development that will not loom. You’d be hard pressed to find a 60-100 ft. building next to two-story rowhomes anywhere in the city.”

He also talked about how parking and traffic are the top concerns of the neighborhood when it comes to development. The neighborhood, which is on a peninsula, has just three entrances and exits.  Stevenson and Woodall St. get heavy cut-through traffic off Key Hwy., especially when a train is running and drivers need another way to cut through the neighborhood, said Joval. Many cars also use Woodall as a way to get to the McHenry Row development across the street.

LPCA commissioned renderings to show the scale of the proposed project next to the surrounding homes.

Another concern of Locust Point residents was the effect on sunlight on the surrounding blocks. Goodier Properties engineering and design team provided a sunlight study showing a minimal difference between a five-story or nine-story building on sunlight patterns. Sunlight is also a concern of Domino Sugar, which is just north of the project site opposite the rowhomes. Peter O’Malley, vice president of corporate relations with Domino Sugar, said the height of the proposed building would effect the production of Domino’s solar panels.

Goodier Properties gave a presentation showing examples of C2 zonings next to R-8 residential homes around Baltimore. Al Barry of AB Associates was part of the team Goodier Properties and said, “Key Highway is a major street with Domino Sugar and Under Armour. I have no reason to believe it could not handle traffic to this project.” He also noted that, in his opinion, there would be no environmental impact on the residential streets.

Locust Point residents have vowed to keep fighting this project after hearing of the approval by BMZA.

“Needless to say, we are disappointed, but we will continue to fight this grossly-inappropriate development,” Grossman told in an email. “There are several options available; we’ll be meeting in the next several days to determine which one(s) we will pursue. As you saw today, residents are extremely committed against this specific proposal and the negative impacts it would have on their lives, and our neighborhood.”

A previous Goodier proposal from late last year outlined constructing a five-story office and retail building that included below-ground parking. This plan was also opposed by LPCA.

Project site

The following renderings were created by LPCA (not the developer Goodier Properties) to show the scale of the proposed project

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