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Chasen Cos. Gets Approval for Multi-Family Projects in Fells Point, Harbor East

Two Mixed-Use Properties to be Developed at 600 S. Caroline and 1400 Aliceanna  

Baltimore's historic preservation panel has approved two new projects by developer Chasen Cos. along the city's dense eastern corridor.

The Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, or CHAP, voted on the pair of projects Tuesday. The developments were presented separately and will add a total of 234 new apartment units to a historic area that is packed with retail, residential and offices yet still holds markers from Baltimore's past.

Chasen has proposed to build a five-story addition to a former warehouse at 1517 Eastern Ave. in Fells Point, and another multi-family addition totaling four stories atop 600 S. Caroline St. located around the corner in Harbor East. The later building is where the Meyer Seed Co. has been headquartered for decades. The multi-generational family business is winding down this month to close for good.

With the CHAP approval, Chasen Cos. expects to close on 600 S. Caroline by April and then take 18-24 months to build out the project, said Paul Davis, a partner at the firm, after the vote.

Chasen Cos. is headquartered in Fells Point and has a portfolio with more than 800 apartments, most of them in that community and Mount Vernon. The latest expansion will allow the company to develop more near the waterfront and enter the upscale Harbor East market.

"We are thrilled to receive approval from CHAP for height and massing for a new mixed-use building at 600 S. Caroline in Harbor East," Davis said. "What is truly exciting is this allows us to continue our vision for improving the walkability between Fells Point and Harbor East and revitalizing this area with retail, common spaces and expansive sidewalks."

 

The project at 600 S. Caroline St. is part of a larger plan in that area to convert a pair of industrial buildings into new retail and residential space.

Chasen presented plans in November to develop a total of 272 luxury apartments and 55,000 square feet of new retail space at 601 S. Caroline St. and 1400 Aliceanna St. next door. The Caroline Street project, which will have 172 units, required CHAP approval because it is located at the edge of the Fells Point Historic District.

The CHAP panel voted to endorse the development, but asked Chasen's architectural team to revise some of the facade design and massing. The 51,000-square-foot building stretches an entire city block and first opened in 1934 as a GMC truck repair shop and showroom. Its large windows at street level, now bricked in, will be restored, harkening back to that era — with a modern four-story apartment tower added to the roof.

Fells Point community members were not in favor of the design and in letters to CHAP rejected the proposed massing and height. The CHAP panel agreed, asking architect Justin Seto, principal of the local Seto Architects, to simplify the design's massing and size. Those revisions are expected to be presented to the panel and the city's planning department staff in the coming month or so.

The project at 1517 Eastern Ave. meanwhile, came before the commission for a third time Tuesday after the project was initially rejected by the panel in June before receiving preliminary approval a month later. CHAP — and several members of the Fells Point community — said the massing of the project was too much and would override the quaint vibe of Dallas Street, a narrow alley street lined with two-story rowhouses abutting the property.

The panel ordered revisions to the height and massing, which were made Seto said, and included setbacks from the street's edge and rooftop. The new designs also scaled down a portion of the development along Dallas Street with smaller facades and just two and three-story dwelling units instead of a cubic five-story building.

The project is expected to launch in the coming months now that CHAP has given its blessing to proceed. It sits next to the headquarters for Chasen Cos. at 1511 Eastern Ave. and around the corner from the company's construction warehouse.

Chasen's latest multi-family project, The Caroline, is expected to open in Fells Point on Jan. 1 at the site of the former Tutti Frutti Ice Cream plant in the 500 block of Caroline St.