More townhouses in latest iteration of Madison Park North development. Construction in 2021?

Developers of Madison Park North, the mixed office-residential retail development at 700 North Avenue in the works for four years now, say they are giving up on the office building component of the project.

Instead, said cheerleader and lead developer David Bramble, there will be additional market-rate housing – about 100 more townhouses than originally planned, for a total of 155 in addition to, eventually, two 13-story apartment towers with street-level retail and a grocery store.  He spoke at a Zoom board meeting of BHCA on Dec. 1, calling the development “a new gateway to West Baltimore.”

In the new configuration for the overall project, Building A will house 114 apartments and 10,050 feet of retail, with 80 parking spaces.  In place of what was Building B there are to be 155 two-story plus garage townhouses that measure 16 x 40 feet.  Eventually a Building C would house 264 apartments with a parking garage and 15,000 feet of retail.

Bramble, who is a native of Madison Park and lives nearby, said the latest rendering will reconnect Brookfield and Bolton streets to and through the complex to North Avenue. Town houses will face both streets as well as Lenox Street and Park Avenue.  It’s all located on the north side of North Avenue in Reservoir Hill, across from Bolton Hill’s northern border.

Bramble said construction permit applications are underway with the city.  Approval will lead to townhouse construction beginning in the last quarter of 2021, “machines on the site,” with the first houses to be completed and on the market in 2022.  He projects that work on the first mixed-use retail and apartment building, a 13-story tower, would get underway in 2023.  That building at the corner of North and Park is projected to have a mid-sized grocery, a coffee shop and other retail with dedicated parking, with market rate apartment rentals above.  They also will ask the city for parallel parking on North Avenue to help slow traffic and ease access to the retail shops.

The grocery store, as he sees it, should reflect the divergent tastes of the neighborhoods around it: “a place where you can buy a bag of potato chips and also organic apples. Not Save-a-Lot.” Realistically, the area does not have the density and income levels needed to attract a Whole Foods-like supermarket, he acknowledged.  Currently the nearest groceries besides the Save-a-Lot on McMechen Street are a Shoppers at Mondawmin Mall and Safeway in Charles Village.  Each is a short drive but a long walk.  The stalled and likely-dead State Center redevelopment project on Bolton Hill’s south border also projected a grocery. However, neither project has signed a contract with a food store.

Bramble cited as an example of how the project will take shape the underway mixed-use development on Eastern Avenue near Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Yard 56.  He acknowledged that “These deals are hard to do. We’ve knocked down a ton of barriers.  We’re going to get to the finish line.”  But he acknowledged they have not yet lined up all the financing they need to get started.  He did say negotiations with Amtrak, which has underground easements on the building site, are moving toward a satisfactory outcome.

–Bill Hamilton