When renderings were revealed in the mid-2000s, Westport Waterfront may have presented the most exciting set of real estate plans for Baltimore in a long time. Just south of Downtown and the stadiums, 43 acres of waterfront land along the Middle Branch were to be redeveloped into a transit-oriented development by Turner Development featuring offices, hotels, townhomes, apartments and potentially an arena or soccer stadium. Parks were designed for water activities and a walking bridge was even proposed from Swann Park to Westport Waterfront so that runners and cyclists could make a lap around the Middle Branch and people from SoBo could walk to this exciting new part of the city.
In the subsequent years the land was cleared for redevelopment, which once included a power plant and factories, and the shoreline was restored with marshes, and stimulus and government subsidies were awarded. With infrastructure needed as the next step with deals in place for an apartment building and townhomes, the shovels never hit the ground. The only news we heard from this South Baltimore development was for a temporary Cirque du Soleil setup, flirting with the DC United for a soccer stadium and a rally for DC and Baltimore food trucks.
Our own Nate Prehn even caught up with Eric Turner from the development team in May 2012 and the spirits with Turner Development still seemed optimistic. From the article:
What is the status of the project?
We are working on the plans to begin the site work on the southern end of the Waterfront with hopes to start the site work sometime this fall. No official start or ground breaking date yet. We are working hard to get there. The next step we take is going to cost a lot of money and energy. Once we have a timeframe, we’ll have a pretty detailed schedule as to when and what portions of the site will be completed.
Unfortunately work never started in the fall, and news soon broke about a foreclosure on the property because of unpaid loans. Turner seemed optimistic in the Baltimore Business Journal that they could secure new financing, but it appears they are running out of time as the foreclosure auction is now set for February 14th through A.J. Billig & Co. Auctioneers.
Want to be the next developer of Westport Waterfront? It will only be sold as an entirety and a $500,000 deposit will be required. Here is a description from A.J. Billig:
The Westport Waterfront is a carefully planned mixed use development. The site’s master plan creates a spectacular community including 2.5 million sq. ft. of office space, 1,400 residential units, 275,000 sq. ft. of retail space and 500 hotel rooms. The plan also includes an eco friendly environment including public parks, biking and walking trails.
Hopefully a developer with a large financial backing and great experience will be the next to pursue this waterfront project or Turner can partner with a major player in the real estate industry before the February 14th auction. With the Horsehoe Casino now under construction just one light rail stop away, this could fuel the interest in hotels and mixed-use projects in the area. Westport Waterfront has been a wild ride to follow, but hopefully there will be a lot more answers in the next few weeks.