Our most exciting developments are ones where we can turn a white elephant into a community anchor. These transformations are challenging and solutions are neither immediately evident nor easily executed. However, these projects have the greatest possibility for contribution to the immediate area, the marketplace and to our natural resources.
The Steiff Silver Story: There was not a single market study that would support the rebirth of a former Baltimore silver manufacturing plant into a shiny new office building. Yet, the location directly off I83 connecting to downtown, along with the proximity to a vibrant main street became convincing attributes to office prospects. The building was historically renovated and successfully leased to a diverse tenant base including the John Hopkins University.
Many notable companies of the 20th century created environmental contamination that survived long past the usefulness of their products. We at Ekistics have become intimately familiar with some these stories and have turned many sour lemons into fresh, sweet, lemonade.
Foundry of Fort Story: When you want to look to the past to find a new name, it would be helpful if the past did not include the largest manufacturing facility for lead paint on the East Coast. Working through the Voluntary Cleanup Program with Maryland Department of the Environment, we successfully secured a predevelopment grant to ascertain if the site was viable for redevelopment. We completed the Remediation Action Plan and achieved a No Further Action letter within schedule and on budget.
Green buildings are naturally smart… so to speak. They are oriented to the sun appropriate to the climate, they maximize daylight and fresh air and can even at times replenish resources always while providing a healthy, invigorating environment to its inhabitants. Green buildings makes doing the right thing easy.
Our headquarters, Lucky’s Warehouse, is a renovated millwork facility turned into office lofts that often garners great response from visitors. What makes the building unique is more to do with what wasn’t done than what was done. The three floors are open office lofts with 15’ ceilings and ample natural daylight. Each floor leverages thermal mass for HVAC efficiency. Primary heat is rooftop solar thermal with backup heat from ground source heat pump. Heat distribution is via radiant tubing in concrete overpours on each floor. Workstations are constructed from “found materials” emphasizing commitment to reclaimed and recycled materials.
All we have to do is think of our favorite places and we know that mixed use creates a vitality that is vastly different from the sterile landscapes of the past 50 years. Mixed use communities bring us the freedom to do almost everything we want to do at the threshold of our door. We can increase our time with activities we enjoy and avoid the suffering in endless traffic jams. Our community becomes close knit and integrated into the multi-facets of our lives.
The American Can Story: An obsolete industrial complex was a blighting influence on a community’s ability to prosper. The abandoned buildings were transformed into a mixed use community anchor with retail, offices and a parking garage. Mixed use projects like these create a bubbling cauldron of activity where every use compliments every other use and maximizes the value and vitality of each.
In order to create long term value and the highest potential, it takes all sides pushing in the same direction together. When Public Private Partnerships are engaged in pursuit of a shared goal, achievements are made that neither could achieve alone.
The 1209 N. Charles Street Story: 1209 is the first new construction building in the Charles Street historic corridor in decades. Working closely with community and business stakeholders, an economically viable plan was created with the City of Baltimore to improve the streetscape and build a new housing development for the Baltimore Washington market. Located only 3 blocks from Penn Station, the project’s 88 condominium units, 14,000sf of retail, and 138 structured parking spaces offered an amenity rich, residential choice for a local and commuter clientele.
A core value is Inclusion. We apply it liberally to engaging our stakeholders because we believe that none of us are as smart as all of us. We involve internal and external stakeholders in defining and pursuing jointly held goals. Through inclusion, we unleash the creative spirit in all of us.
The Bagby Story: The Ikea of the 1950’s, Baltimore had a bustling furniture manufacturer called “Bagby Furniture” contributing to the local economy for over 80 years. The plans to transform the building into offices met severe public scrutiny over possible negative implications to the charming community of Little Italy. After much dialogue to appreciate stakeholder needs, we collaborated with the community to develop a mutually shared parking garage that neither one of us could have achieved alone. The Bagby building sits as a preserved jewel between the much loved community of Little Italy and the growing new market of mixed use buildings along the waterfront at Harbor East.
Over the last several years, the requirements of real estate development have changed, bringing on a new paradigm for the industry. Issues as diverse yet irretrievably connected as: conserving natural resources and dealing with increasing traffic congestion or providing workforce housing and job training are challenges of our civilization influencing at the root the what, where and how of the future of development in the coming decades.
Ekistics flagship project, State Center is at the forefront of this changing paradigm. It is the enlightened “land of opportunity” for a country looking to regenerate its resources, invest in infrastructure for density, and restore its communities.
State Center is one of its kind.
Surrounded by nine diverse neighborhoods with stark International Style 1950’s architecture and the richest compilation of transportation modes available in Maryland, State Center is a place rich in historical context that makes it easy to live richly while conserving abundantly. It is the economic engine for West Baltimore, an important link in the African American history of the State, the northern boundary for the bygone “white glove” shopping district of Howard Street and it is a critical part to Baltimore’s growing College and Cultural Arts Districts. This community gives local merchants a place to thrive, its striking architecture is a feast for the eyes, and it is the starting point for West Baltimore’s heritage walking trail. It is a place where Baltimoreans of all colors, creed and beliefs come together on their main street of shops businesses and residents with a great variety of things to do within an easy transit ride or a simple walk. When you are at State Center you a part of West Baltimore, its historical stories and its dynamic future. You are at a place where no other can compare.
State Center is a cauldron of creativity and opportunity.
It’s diversity of uses and occupants promote the casual sharing of new ideas, innovations and relationships. Because there is always something going on, relationships are easily formed, and new ideas frequently shared. People find that they are in the right place at the right time to learn something vital, make a new contact, hear of an opportunity before others, think in a new way, and see a range of possibilities where once there was only a looming challenge. The steady stream of activity keeps its inhabitants sharp, connected and enriched.
State Center’s mix of uses enhances each other by their proximity and complimentary fit to each other.
The quality of place is enhanced by the density of multiple uses which optimizes infrastructure investment and maximizes the value of each piece of the system by the mutual interaction with and benefit to other pieces. Retail serves the shopping needs while also providing street pageantry and a source of entertainment for the office and residential community. Residential homes extend the activity and energy of a retail and office environment and bring greater market demand to both. Office space brings daytime commerce and access to jobs, ideas, innovations and relationships that a retail or residential community misses. The density and diversity of State Center realizes the full economic potential of the metro area with optimum utilization of resources and highest productivity of residents.
And finally, State Center Conserves Natural Resources. First and foremost by its location at the epicenter of public transportation links for the metro area including metro, light rail, bus, and train. It is within walking distance to jobs, homes and retail choices of several shapes sizes and types. It reuses existing buildings and infrastructure to maximize their value and minimize the need to demolish and or construct new. The architecture and engineering of the buildings maximize the use of local building materials, are respectful of the geography, climate, and unique site characteristics, conserves energy, reduces storm water runoff, and minimizes the need for potable water. Every building decision is made with environmental stewardship and long term value creation in mind.