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Westport Waterfront: Green Harbor

Location, Location, Location

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor dramatically changed the landscape of the waterfront city decades ago, but the area’s metamorphosis is not over. A 50-acre mixed-use brownfield development to include residential units, office space, retail venues, and extensive open space slated for construction this June with buildout over the next 10 years. Surrounded by more than 100 acres of protected parkland, this transit-oriented community features an existing on-site light rail station, easy access to major highways, and an extensive system of biking and walking paths.

Indicative of its popularity (the community got no pushback from citizens and got a go-ahead from the EPA that its development wouldn’t harm the environment) Westport has received unprecedented funding from the City of Baltimore in the form of a $160 million TIF (tax increment financing), the largest even in Baltimore’s history. Pat Turner, president of Turner Development Group, developer of Westport Waterfront, describes the brownfield scene he came upon: “This was industrial waterfront south of central business district on the waterfront. A light rail line station was dead center on the property. Industrial was there. The city sees it as the next Inner Harbor – Green Harbor – and [dictated] that the site was to be green and transit oriented.”

Turner came in as the master planner, having years of experience in adaptive reuse. “This is a lifestyle community with high-performance buildings, transit and bike trails, a 27-acre park, and a special pier that launches crew boats and discourages powerboats.

The company is currently working out final details on a plan with an unnamed national homebuilder to build the townhouse portion of the site.

“The [builder] will offer green sales upgrades,” Turner says. “Energy-efficient appliances and light fixture, heat recovery systems, and super contemporary floor plans.” All this will come with an affordable price tag starting at around $300,000.

Turner notes that the proximity to Baltimore and Washington, D.C., along with the green angle, is the selling point of this community.

But just as with every land buy, it’s about the deal. “You have to buy the property right,” says Turner. “We don’t do presales. We price it where the price should be. If you price it right they sell. You make money when you buy the property – not when you sell it.”

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