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Oct. 14, 2010

$238M Mixed-Use Residential Project Takes a Big Step Forward in Baltimore

By Barbra Murray, Contributing Writer

Uplands Multifamily

Baltimore–A master plan conceived six years ago for a 100-acre site in southwest Baltimore is well on the way to becoming a reality now that ground has broken on the mixed-use residential project. Uplands Visionaries L.L.C., a public-private partnership spearheaded by Pennrose Properties L.L.C. and Bozzuto Homes, is developing the new $238 million Uplands community, which will encompass 1,100 rental apartments and for-sale homes at full build-out.

In addition to Pennrose and Bozzuto, Uplands Visionaries includes Cryor Development L.L.C., Harrison Development L.L.C., Scientia Uplands L.L.C., and the Southwest Baltimore Community Development Corp. The groundbreaking marks the commencement of the revitalization of a neglected area of Baltimore, situated within close proximity of downtown, and near Interstates 95 and 695 and a future Metro line. City officials acquired the land, formerly home to the unsuccessful Uplands Apartments affordable housing complex, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2004, and wasted precious little time tapping design and market analysis firm Goody Clancy to formulate a master plan to transform the property into a dynamic, urban destination with the appeal of a suburban neighborhood.

Uplands Townhomes

Phase I of the endeavor will span 63 acres and deliver 761 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, including affordable housing units, and for-sale residences consisting of townhomes and semi-detached houses. Uplands will also offer ground-level retail space, as well as such amenities as a community clubhouse, computer lab, fitness center, meeting rooms, walking trails and community parks.

However, the most significant aspect of Uplands will be its status as one of Baltimore’s first future-proof developments, featuring community-wide unlimited bandwidth with fiber optics. “Uplands is very similar to Bozzuto’s Brambleton master planned community in Ashburn, Va., which was the first of its kind in the area with the incorporation of high-technology, and it was a huge success,” Drew White, executive director in the Apartment Brokerage Services division of real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield Inc., tells MHN. “I can envision this project being successful, just as their Brambleton project was. At the time, it was cutting-edge. It had a suburban environment but it had an urban flair with connectivity, and I see Uplands being equally appealing.”

Additionally, Uplands will be an environmentally friendly community, and the developers expect the project to qualify for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED-Neighborhood Development certification.

To some developers in the housing industry, putting shovels in the ground for a 1,100-residence mixed-use community may seem like putting the cart before the horse–or product before demand–particularly given that nationally, the housing market has yet to recover. But Uplands is in an area where there is a bit of a gap in housing, a gap that will continue to grow with the overflow of military and civilian employees relocating to Fort Meade, near Odenton, due to the federal government’s Base Realignment and Closure process. “All of the proposed new construction projects are in Northern Baltimore or right around Fort Meade and Odenton, so Uplands stands alone in a strategic location where there’s no competition,” White says. “The last flood of new development has already been absorbed; those properties are stabilized and there’s nothing in the pipeline. And with Uplands, it’s the product type; it’s unique. Between that and the fact that there is no new competition, it will appeal to people working in Baltimore and Odenton, and it will probably have double digit absorption.”

Demand or no, kicking off the creation of a master planned community with a nearly quarter-of-a billion-dollar budget is no simple feat in the current economic climate. However, the public-private development team has been successful in amassing the necessary funds to commence the project. Baltimore Housing shelled out $23 million for site acquisition, demolition and remediation activity, and will work with the Baltimore Department of Transportation and Department of Public Works to make available the $45 million required for mass grading, realigned roadways, storm water management and utility upgrades at Uplands.

If all continues to go as planned, Phase I of Uplands will reach completion in 2012.

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