The Story of David Tufaro
The developer who breathed new life into Southwest Baltimore’s Montgomery Ward warehouse and is creating a mixed-use neighborhood along Jones Falls has lived and worked in Baltimore for 41 years, but he ended up here by chance. (That's harder to do these days, thanks to GPS.)
After a history degree from Yale and a joint city planning and law degree from Penn, Terra Nova Ventures’ David Tufaro (above, with daughter Jennifer at their Mill No. 1 redevelopment) got a job with DLA Piper predecessor Piper & Marbury in ’73, supporting partner Jack Jones, who’d worked on Jim Rouse’s Columbia formation. But the new-town planning biz, laden with debt, dried up with the recession. David stuck around for five years, working on projects like Monumental Properties’ Eastpoint Mall in Dundalk and litigation like Exxon vs. Maryland case, which went to the US Supreme Court.
Litigation wasn’t David’s bag, though, so he joined Oxford Development and, alongside Tom Bozzuto, launched the Indiana-based multifamily developer’s Baltimore outfit from an office in Largo. Some of their biggest projects: the Sharp Leadenhall Section 8 housing near the stadiums and Mt. Clare Overlook next to the B&O Railroad museum. In ’84, the Charlotte-based Summit Properties recruited David to run its new Mid-Atlantic office, and after championing Baltimore over DC, David got a Federal Hill office. He developed 700 to 1,000 apartments a year, including Waterloo Place (above) near Baltimore’s Washington Monument, plus his first office project, the conversion of the United Mine Workers HQ in DC into apartments and offices. He and the other general partners took Summit public in ’94 and five years later, David resigned to make room for his next venture.
Frustrated by an ebbing population, failed urban-planning efforts, and poor-performing public schools, he declared his candidacy for mayor and potentially came close to being the city’s first Republican leader since Ted McKeldin in ’67. Had City Council president Lawrence Bell become the Democratic nominee as expected, his personal baggage likely would have come out in the general election against Republican nominee David, he tells us. As it happened, the relatively unknown Martin O’Malley entered the Democratic primary late, Lawrence’s troubles came to light at that stage, and O’Malley, now Governor of Maryland with presidential aspirations, advanced to the general election, where he crushed David. One fun story from David’s mayoral race: His wife owned Shananigans Toy Shop in Roland Park, and she told David never to say anything bad about Police Commissioner Thomas Frazier, a store patron. During a late-Sunday WCBM appearance, though, the host asked David about Frazier. He claims his on-air comments were neutral, but when he came home, he found a snoozing wife and a note on his side of the bed: “I told you not to say anything bad about him.”
One of David’s campaign proposals was to turn the 1.3M SF, 1926-vintage Montgomery Ward catalog warehouse near Carroll Park into workforce housing, a boarding school, and a juvenile drug treatment facility. After the election, he’d pretty much forgotten about the idea until his neighbor Sam Himmelrich told David he had the building under contract. They partnered up and bought it in early 2000, rebranding it Montgomery Park. The dot-com crash foiled their original lease-up plan, but Sam’s championing of sustainability payed off, as the building’s gray water, recycling program, ice-melt chiller, and green roof helped the building win the Maryland Department of the Environment’s 250k SF RFP. The State Lottery later took 75k SF, and M&T Bank took the entire eighth (top) floor. The building had climbed to two-thirds occupancy until tenant Chubb Insurance recently closed its 45k SF Baltimore office there.
In ’07, David’s daughter Jennifer expressed interest in working with her dad, so they shopped around for infill opportunities. They found the former Mount Vernon Mill No. 1 at 2980 to 3000 Falls Rd. Now the father/daughter duo are completing renovation of the 250k SF 1873 mill and surrounding smaller buildings. The office portion is 50% leased, David tells us, one restaurant spot is spoken for, and almost all of the 84 apartments are rented. Within 60 days, they’ll start renovating the remaining large former cotton mill complex at Clipper Mill Road. Upstream from the rest of the buildings, this 100k SF building complex will house another restaurant, a public retail market, offices, and more apartments.