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CITY DESIGN PANEL GIVES PRELIMINARY OK TO $1.4B WESTPORT DEVELOPMENT

By Will Skowronski
7.06.2007
Baltimore Business Journal

A 65-story office building, 2,000 condos, and extensive waterfront retail is a sample of what's being planned for a 54-acre development site in Westport.

The city's Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel (UDARP) approved Thursday a preliminary site plan for the $1.4 billion development, just south of where Interstate 95 crosses the Patapsco River. The designs will be further developed and need to be approved again by UDARP, the Department of Planning, and the City Council.

Panelists praised Baltimore-based Turner Development Group, which is heading the project, for the changes that had been made since the group first reviewed the plans.

Ellen Neises of the New York-based urban design firm Field Operations presented the plans, which include large open retail spaces along the water, floating docks, and a mixed-use trail surrounding the area.

"Today we're kind of looking for the road map," Neises said.

She said that since the first UDARP meeting the plans had been adapted to include more open space, more variety along the waterfront, and more walkways for pedestrians.
Panelists did say they would have recommendations as the project went forward, but didn't hide their enthusiasm.

"I'm excited about the whole project," said Gary Bowden, a UDARP panelist.

Turner Development, which is best known for developing several properties in Federal Hill and Locust Point, has been planning the Westport project for several years, but had to have the property re-zoned and cleared of contaminants.

Patrick Turner, president of Turner Development, said in a recent interview the site, which was once home to the Carr-Lowrey Glass Co. and a BGE plant, is still being cleaned.

The project gained headway on June 27 when the city's Board of Estimates authorized a Department of Transportation traffic study of Westport.

Turner said road and infrastructure construction is scheduled to begin next March.

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