Historic Building at 1901 Light Street Eyes a Conversion to Apartments

| July 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

The ownership of 1901 Light St., a historic five-story building in South Baltimore/Riverside that is currently the home of Guardian Moving & Storage Co., is seeking a partner for a joint venture to redevelop the 138,000 sq. ft. building into an apartment building. Ossani Investments Inc. is listed in Maryland records as the longtime owner of the property that sits on 1.7 acres.

Transwestern Commercial Services (TCS) announced yesterday that its Mid-Atlantic Multifamily Group has been named the exclusive advisor for this adaptive reuse project. The project could potentially support more than 140 apartments, according to TCS. Executive Vice Presidents of TCS Dean Sigmon and Robin Williams and Vice President Justin Shay are working to find a development partner for the project.

“1901 Light St. provides unique aspects that will attract tenants such as high ceilings, historic brick façade, and exposed wood beams,” said Shay in a press release. “These features help differentiate the project from the thousands of other apartment units that have delivered in recent years.”

“Despite what appears to be a glut of new multifamily deliveries in recent years, Baltimore has continued to display strong multifamily market fundamentals,” said Sigmon in the release.

Shay noted that since this is an adaptive reuse project and a not a new building, that rents could be lower than many of the other new apartment buildings because of lower construction costs.

Originally built in the late 1800s, the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Ownership will look for the redevelopment to take advantage of both State and Federal Historic Tax Credits.

The building is attached to 101 Wells, which was converted from the former Stamping and Enameling Company buildings into an apartment community. Both buildings share similar brick architecture and face the same courtyards, as well as a private road.

1901 Light St. has two large metal warehouses adjacent to the historic brick buildings. Those are likely to get demolished and replaced by surface parking lot according to Shay.

In the release, TCS said the following about the market for a project like this: “According to Delta Associates’ First Quarter 2019 Mid-Atlantic Class A Apartment Market Report, annual absorption in the city was nearly 1,900 units, almost double citywide absorption from one year ago. The Federal Hill/Locust Point submarket outperformed other Baltimore submarkets with 3.8% effective rent growth in the 12 months ending March 2019.”

Shay said that they are hoping to pursue Maryland State tax credits in August of 2020 with a new development partner and hope to begin construction on the project in late-2020 or early-2021. Construction will likely to take around 18 months.

Shay said that Guradian Moving & Storage Co. will relocate to a new facility in the area and TCS is working with them on that search. Guardian has been headquartered at 1901 Light St. for over 50 years.

An apartment conversion at 1901 Light St. would add to a flurry of development activity along the Wells St. corridor in South Baltimore. Premier Storage Investors (PSI) has been approved for a 90,000 sq. ft., 820-unit storage facility to replace a one-story warehouse at 1900 S. Charles St. Construction began recently to convert 1900 Light St., a former slaughterhouse that was recently a curtain factory, into a 38,000 sq. ft. office and retail building. Wood Partners is planning a 267-unit apartment building with 1,000 sq. ft. of ground floor retail on the 1800 block of S. Hanover St. and a 258-unit apartment building with 1,000 sq. ft. of ground floor retail on the 1900 block of S. Hanover St.

In recent years, apartment building 1901 South Charles was built at the site of a vacant industrial property, apartment and retail building 2 East Wells replaced a warehouse, and Zero Fox renovated the vacant Pabst Castle into an office building. National Federation of the Blind is currently renovating parts of its 355, 000 sq. ft. facility and putting up to 100,000 sq. ft. of office space up for lease.

This story was first reported by The Baltimore Sun

Renderings courtesy of Transwestern Commercial Services and Urban Design Group

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