Harbor Point developers address Fell’s Point’s environmental concerns

Written by on May 8, 2013 in Featured, Neighborhood News - No comments

The Beatty Development Group says that work will begin on the Recreation Pier by the start of next year. - Photo by Erik Zygmont

Developers of Harbor Point, a 27-plus acre mixed development on the waterfront site of the old Allied Signal Chromium Plant, stopped by the Fell’s Point Residents Association meeting last week to update residents on the environmental aspects of the project.

Last month, the Baltimore City Planning Commission approved the Beatty Development Group’s plans for Harbor Point. The proposal is now before the City Council, with a hearing scheduled for next month, according to Marco Greenburg of Beatty Development.

The development includes, on the north end, a 24-story building to house Excelon Energy. While the current elevation of the site is about 13 feet, Greenburg said, the 350-foot building will be built on ground 28 feet above sea level.

The project includes 9.5 acres of open space, with about 5 acres of that devoted to an open-to-the-public “central plaza.”

Last week, crews were scheduled to begin driving “test piles.” Jonathan Flesher of Beatty Development explained that test piles are simply various types of piles—prefabricated foundation components—that are driven into the earth to determine which type is most suitable for constructing the building foundation.

Generally speaking, the environmental concerns stem from the chromium-contaminated soil under the site. Roughly the western 2/3 of the site is “capped,” or sealed to prevent the spread of contaminants.

When the Allied plant was demolished, according to Flesher, “they left the building foundations, and they left a lot of the soil, and rather than cart it somewhere else and pollute that, they created a landfill.”

He noted that the site had been remediated with $110 million of “completely private money.”

Flesher said that all work on the site will be closely monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of the Environment.

“There will never ever ever be a situation where, ‘Oh, there’s a little spill over there, and it’s blowing around,’” Flesher said. “That will never happen.”

Flesher said that the tentative completion date for the Excelon building is the summer of 2015.

Recreation Pier

Greenburg gave the Fell’s Point Residents Association an update on the Recreation Pier, perhaps most famous as the filming site of “Homicide: Life on the Streets.”

“Our commitment to the city is to be under construction on the pier portion of the building by Jan. 1, 2014,” Greenburg said.

As before, the plans remain for a “125-room boutique hotel with a restaurant,” according to Greenburg. Beatty Development will be leaving the ballroom on the third floor in its historic character, he added.

“The envelope of the building will remain exactly the same as it is today,” said Greenburg, though he added that some pop-ups for elevators will be constructed on the roof top.

Responding to a question, Greenburg said that the public promenade will not wrap the building, as doing so would require meeting specific Fire Department criteria for ambulance and rescue access.

Pressed for financial details on the project, Greenburg said, “We are very close to finalizing a deal with a very substantial financial partner. We’re not looking for bank financing; we’re bringing someone with us.”

by Erik Zygmont

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