Two 30-Story Apartment Towers will Replace Baltimore’s Mechanic Theatre

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor Since it opened in January 1967, the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre was for many years Baltimore’s primary venue to host touring Broadway plays and feature major productions. However, those days are now long gone. In time, the theatre became obsolete as it was too small and outdated to accommodate modern, larger [...]

Since it opened in January 1967, the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre was for many years Baltimore’s primary venue to host touring Broadway plays and feature major productions. However, those days are now long gone. In time, the theatre became obsolete as it was too small and outdated to accommodate modern, larger shows. The building has been vacant since 2004, when it ceased operation.

OneWest LLC has now informed the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore that it has filed for a permit to demolish this decades-old theatre in the heart of downtown Baltimore. The developer has proposed to replace it with a $150 million-to-$200 million mixed-use development.

Developers have been trying to find new uses for the theatre for years. Former plans included keeping the original structure intact. OneWest’s plans call for two 30-story towers containing approximately 600 market-rate apartments, 150,000 square feet of retail space and an underground parking garage, all on the site at 1 North Charles Street. Owings Mills-based David S. Brown Enterprises Ltd. will manage the multi-use project.

The proposal now needs the approval of the Planning Department’s Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel, as well as a review by the Commission for Historical & Architectural Preservation (CHAP). The CHAP is among those seeking to preserve the building.

As the theatre is located in Baltimore’s fastest-growing residential neighborhood where the apartment occupancy rate is 97 percent, there are others, such as the Downtown Partnership and the Baltimore Planning Commission, that support the redevelopment project. Kirby Fowler, president of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, calls the building a ”blight on the community” and says the new mixed-use project will bring much needed apartment space, creating ”a signature retail venue to meet the shopping needs of the most densely populated office and residential district in the region.”

“OneWest, David S. Brown, and Arrow Parking have worked on this plan with Baltimore City officials and the community for several years, making multiple revisions based on the feedback they have received,” Kirby Fowler said in a press statement. “With that important due diligence behind them, we support beginning the construction as soon as possible so that this important project can move forward.”

 

Image courtesy of http://www.godowntownbaltimore.com/.