Aquarium-Strength Glass Protected This Development's First Residents From Flood
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The first residents have moved into Whitehall Mill, a $22M mill-turned-mixed-use development along the Jones Falls that was hit by the July 30 flood.
Five residents have leased the loft studio and one-bedroom apartments, says Terra Nova Ventures founder David Tufaro. The apartments rent for between $1,600 and $2,500 per month. With the 28 apartments completed, David says he is turning his attention to the 20k SF of office space.
He says he is talking to a couple of prospective office tenants and that the building would be a good fit for architecture and design firms. He says he’s also talking to one well-known local restaurant operator about leasing 4k SF, which would take six months for the build-out, if it goes through. The project will also include a food market, with vendors selling meats, cheeses, bread and coffee.
Two feet of water entered the mill’s garage and some entered the apartment lobby during last month’s deadly flash flood. But the dirt and water was cleaned up in two days and the mill suffered few damages, David says. Many of the windows at Whitehall, which is closer to stream level than Terra Nova’s Mill No. 1, were blocked off with bricks. Contractor Whiting Turner used aquarium-thick glass with a steel frame—the same as it did at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore’s penguin exhibit.
The developer installed more than a dozen floodgates and moved the mechanical and electrical systems to the second floor. There’s also an evacuation bridge on the second level that will get residents out in an emergency, per Baltimore City requirements. One lesson learned: next time, the developer will get the cleanup started sooner and wrapped up in a day.
“It’s a little bit of a live-and-learn experience on these things,” David says. Developers have to balance restoring historic buildings while making them functional, he says.