The 3 Ways 2 Hopkins Plaza Could Go
Bids for 2 and 10 Hopkins Plaza, which Transwestern is marketing out of receivership, are due April 1 (they're even stricter than the IRS). The property faces three likely fates (not including our vote for a real-life Q*Bert board), and only the marketing process will tell us the real highest and best use for the mostly vacant 407k SF.
1) Is apartment conversion still the hot ticket?
Transwestern’s Leo McDermott, who’s managing the sale with colleague Kasey Hughes, says multifamily conversions are still the big story in Baltimore. (Our parents told us not to gossip, but they're all anyone's talking about.) Still, no major conversion has delved far into leasing yet.
A rep at Kettler, which manages The Lenore at 114 E Lexington (above), told us today that leasing launched 30 days ago and two residents have moved in, while some units remain to be delivered. PMC Property’s Baltimore Life Insurance building at 301 N Charles just had a leasing open house on Tuesday. And Leo says JK Equities is hoping to start construction soon to convert the Equitable Building at 10 N Calvert. Leo also handled that sale.
2) Is B'more ready for another hotel?
He says the local hotel market has stabilized, with occupancy back up to 64% as of the end of 2013. He’s not sure if there’s a need for another hotel, but the property is indeed in a hotel area, across the street from both the Lord Baltimore Hotel (purchased by the Rubell family in August) and the Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel and near both the Days Inn and the Holiday Inn. (You are who you hang around with.) Another possibility is mixed-use, both hotel and apartments, he says. The tower (2 Hopkins Plaza, above) lays out well for both. At 65 feet wide and 259 long, a corridor could bisect it easily, leaving plenty of room for units on either side with great views of Downtown.
3) Don’t count out office.
“I guess that’s where the gamblers come into play,” Leo says of value-add office investors. Baltimore’s Downtown office vacancy may be high, but a few requirements for big blocks have surfaced recently. And various state agencies could be in need of 500k SF to 1M SF if the most recent court decision stands and State Center is indeed over. The property would be ideal for government use because it qualifies as a TOD, he says. 10 Hopkins Plaza (above) allows for 380k SF FAR for future development.