Apartments Proposed for Vacant Raffel Building on Heath Street

| January 8, 2014 | 2 Comments

Since starting SouthBMore.com in February of 2012, few topics have produced more inquiries than the condition and future of the Raffel Building at Heath St. and Clarkson St. in South Baltimore. The large blighted building at 111 W. Heath St. is highly visible from I-395 and many points in the community.

photoThough the building has fallen into disrepair, it has a significant past. J.M. Raffel Co., the original tenant of the building, was once credited as one of the early inventors of the cardboard box as trains coming from the Can Company in Canton and Proctor and Gamble in Locust Point passed by the building and needed a better way to transport cargo. However, legal troubles led Raffel to eventually lose its patent.

Now, another real estate development group has put together a plan for the 70,000 sq. ft. building. Poverni Ventures, a development group with a portfolio of 22 projects in Baltimore including a 65-unit building in Old Goucher, is proposing a new 59-unit luxury apartment building at the location.

Development has been eyed for the building since 2004 and Poverni Ventures is the third development group architect Mike Burton, of Urban Design Group, has worked with. There was originally plans for condos and then later for apartments. Burton believes that “third time’s a charm” and described the newest proposal as “economically sound.”

photoThe building received a grant of $348,900 in 2011 from Maryland throughthe Sustainable Communities Tax Credit Program. Poverni is hoping they will still be able to use the grant.

Poverni recently purchased the building in December for $1.05 million and is confident they will close on a construction loan with BB&T in the next month.

The plan calls for 59 apartments broken down as seven studio apartments, 41 one-bedroom apartment and 11 two-bedroom apartments. Architectural elements will be restored in the building including concrete columns, wood timber beams, wood floors, and cast iron buttresses. A fifth story addition, which will not be visible from the street, will be constructed to include several apartments, a rooftop deck, fitness center, and tenant amenities.

As the property backs up to CSX train tracks, high-end noise reduction windows will be installed to limit the noise.  A fence will also be installed along the train tracks and around the parking lot.

In 2007 the property was rezoned to require one parking space for every two dwelling units. With 59 units in the building, the development will include 39 parking spaces. The group is in the process of pursing all other opportunities on and off the site to increase parking. Tenants of the Raffel Building will not be eligible for Area 30 parking passes, which are needed on most blocks near the site.

The only zoning variance needed for the project is a conversion from single family to multi-family. The group will be presenting at the January 14th South Baltimore Neighborhood Association meeting.

They are hoping to begin the project in early spring with a construction timetable of about 15 months.

(2972)

About the Author:

Creator of SouthBmore.com and resident of SoBo. Graduate of Towson University and owner of Incept Multimedia, a full service video production company. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
×
  • AJ

    so, a minimum of 63 tenants and only 39 parking spaces….

  • SOBOJO

    NOT MORE APARTMENTS! My god has everyone in this community gone absolutely out of their minds! With parking at a premium and traffic becoming more of a nightmare all the time. This is the last thing we need! The number of apartments either built or being planned is going to strangle and eventually hurt this area. This area is promoted as Hip and Trendy and it is trendy. But trendy does not equate with stable. When the trend subsides which it will. The property values will drop and these mega apartment buildings will become lower end housing. The peninsula has become so transient that it is hard to build community the average resident stays 3 to 5 years before the city living experiment runs it’s course. The only ones benefitting in this community are the developers and the real estate agents. If you are a long term committed resident of South Baltimore say no to this project and the other projects that are currently being planned. If your a 3 to 5 yearer, your not going to care anyway!