10-Story, 333,000 Sq. Ft. Office and Biotech Building on Martin Luther King Boulevard Hopes to Break Ground in April

| January 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

The University of Maryland BioPark and developer Wexford Science & Technology showed updated plans to the Baltimore City Planning Department’s Urban Design & Architecture Advisory Panel (UDAAP) last Thursday for the $200-plus million, 10-story, 333,000 sq. ft. office and biotech building at the northwest corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and W. Baltimore St.

This proposed building, which is being called 4 MLK, is Phase One of a two-phrase project that will redevelop a Poppleton/Hollins Market block that borders Martin Luther King Blvd., W. Baltimore St., W. Fayette St., and N. Fremont Ave.

Gregory Herlong, director of development for Wexford, told SouthBMore.com they are working hard to break ground in April and believe “they can get there.” He said they are not ready to make any tenant announcements, but said they have enough commitments to start construction. It will be an approximately two-year construction timeline.

Wexford and the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB) were planning to build the next office building at 873 W. Baltimore St., but when the team was able to acquire the properties to develop this “landmark site,” it was immediately put to the front of the line. Just across Martin Luther King Blvd. is the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), so the team is hoping this property will serve as a junction between the BioPark and UMMC. They are also hoping it will be a “grand gateway” to West Baltimore.

The 4 MLK project site currently includes green spaces, a parking lot, and several open spaces created by demolishing a Chinese carryout restaurant, rowhomes, and a former church. A historic firehouse with a castle facade remains on the block and will be renovated into a restaurant as part of the project. There are two properties on the block not controlled by Wexford: the Silver Moon Restaurant and Carry Out and an adjacent rowhome. Those properties will remain.

The new 10-story building at 4 MLK will be mostly glass and will have multiple retail spaces along Martin Luther King Blvd. The first two stories of 4 MLK will be a lobby, cafe, co-working space, and events space called District Hall. This area will lead out to a courtyard that sits in between the building and the firehouse. The second floor of District Hall will have a 250- to 300-person event space. District Hall will have a glass and precast concrete design to tie into the architectural elements of the firehouse.

The top floors of 4 MLK will be used for offices and bio tech labs. Signage opportunities are available at the top of the building.

4 MLK will have a round driveway on N. Fremont Ave. for drop offs.

Wexford is working with the design team of ZGF, Mahan Rykiel Associates, and STV on the project.

Across W. Baltimore St. from 4 MLK is a triangular park which the team hopes to improve and create into another popular gathering space.

Wexford will wrap the perimeter of the building in new landscaping. UMB and Wexford are also hoping to improve pedestrian crossings at this busy intersection.

The firehouse will become a restaurant. Herlong said discussions are taking place with potential tenants.

In coordination with the opening of 4 MLK, a 105 ft. above-ground parking garage with first-floor retail will be constructed on a vacant lot between W. Fayette St., N. Fremont Ave., and W. Fairmount Ave. This garage replaces a below-ground parking garage that was planned on the same block as 4 MLK. Herlong said the change was due to the high water table in the area and that an above-ground parking garage would cost less. The garage will deliver at the same time as 4 MLK.

873 W. Baltimore St. is currently a hole in ground from pre-development work. Herlong told SouthBMore.com in May the site will be filled in with dirt and become a temporary green space. University of Maryland and Wexford plan to develop the site at a later date.

Wexford has developed three properties at the BioPark along W. Baltimore St. that are all leased. These include a 120,000 sq. ft. office building at 800 W. Baltimore St., a 238,000 sq. ft. office building at 801 W. Baltimore St., and a 638-space parking garage at 1 N. Poppleton St. that is also the home of the campus police substation.

The Maryland Proton Treatment Center, the Maryland Forensic Medical Center, and the Lion Brothers building where UMB runs The GRID are also part of the BioPark footprint. UMB is also currently under construction to convert a 20,000 sq. ft., four-story building built in 1917 at 16 S. Poppleton St. into a community center for the surrounding Southwest Baltimore communities.

Herlong said Phase Two’s use will be “market-driven” but could be another lab/office building, a business headquarters of up to 250,000 sq. ft., or a residential project. He said it’s too early to give a timeline but it is currently planned as another 10-story building. This site will serve as surface parking until Phase Two begins construction.

Rendering courtesy of Wexford Science & Technology, ZGF, Mahan Rykiel Associates, and STV

Rendering below courtesy of Wexford Science & Technology, ZGF, Mahan Rykiel Associates, and STV from the UDAAP presentation

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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.