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Zahlco Presents New Plans For Its 585-Unit Midtown Gateway Project

A rendering of University of Baltimore's proposed development near Penn Station.

Developer Zahlco presented the first schematic for its planned $158M Midtown Gateway development to the city's design panel Thursday, the Baltimore Business Journal reports.

Zahlco CEO Yonah Zahler told the Urban Design and Architecture Advisory Panel his firm's goal for the project is to "inject new energy" into the area, according to the BBJ.

Plans for the project, located roughly two blocks from Baltimore's Penn Station along Maryland Avenue and Oliver Street, call for building 585 apartments and 30K SF of ground-level retail.

Last month the university named Zahlco as the project's intended developer. Zahlco has proposed constructing two apartment buildings and the adaptive reuse of a former U.S. Postal Service vehicle maintenance center.

The first phase of the project is planned to be the adaptive reuse portion, including a new marketplace and other retail, plus a new five-story residential tower above it, according to the BBJ. The second phase is planned as a 12-story apartment tower with a parking garage. 

According to the university, naming Zahlco as the developer last month allowed the project to begin the design process. Thursday’s presentation marked the start of the public portion of that process. 

Some details about the project still need to be hammered out. The university and developer need to finalize a ground-lease agreement that is expected to be approved by the University System of Maryland Board of Regents and the Maryland Board of Public Works this fall.

When the university announced Baltimore-based Zahlco's selection as developer, Kurt L. Schmoke, president of the University of Baltimore and a former mayor of Baltimore, said Zahlco's design could reshape how residents think about the city center. 

"This project, conceptualized by the Zahlco team and vetted by the University’s experts in consultation with the USM, represents a breakthrough in how we think about the center of the city," Schmoke said in a statement.

The Midtown Gateway plan also capitalizes on surging development interest in the area on the heels of Penn Station Partners starting work on a $90M overhaul of Baltimore's 112-year-old Penn Station.

Penn Station Partners, a joint venture of Cross Street Partners and Beatty Development Group, envision the overhauled station and 1.6M SF of mixed-use development around the transit hub, forming a new gateway to the city for travelers arriving via MARC and Amtrak trains.  

Cross Street Partners CEO Bill Struever told Bisnow he expects to kick off the next planning round for developing the area around the station soon.  

"We are launching a new phase of master-planning shortly that will advance planning on these different sites, but also very much integrating into what's going on around Penn Station in Station North, Greenmount West, Mount Vernon and across the road there to Johnston Square," Struever said.