53-unit apartment building with community garden planned in Southwest Baltimore

The developer plans to improve a underdeveloped neighborhood by adding housing and luxury amenities while still allowing the residents to remain connected with the community.

53-unit apartment building with community garden planned in Southwest Baltimore

A local developer plans to build a 53 unit apartment building in Irvington with the aim of bringing new housing, wellness amenities and a community gardening to the Southwest Baltimore area.

Bull Development, an minority- and veteran-owned Baltimore-based company, plans to build on 4503 Frederick Ave. This narrow lot is located between two single-family houses that back up to Irvington Park. The lot is located between two educational anchors: Mount Saint Joseph High School, which is just down the street on one side, and Beechfield Elementary and Middle School and Fred B. Leidig Rec Center a few doors away on the opposite.

Pavlina Ilieva presented the plans for the project Thursday afternoon to the Urban Design and Architecture Advisory Panel of Baltimore. She explained that the developer's motivation is to bring new housing, and 'luxury amenities' to historically under-invested areas in a manner that encourages connections with the community.

She said: 'As much it's about urban gardening and houses, it's really about community development and making, which is rooted in these very basic ways that people like to interact.'

Ilieva has been the chair of UDAAP for many years, but she stepped down from the panel to make the presentation.

She said that technically, the building won't be affordable housing because it's not seeking any subsidies or credits. However, it will be an affordable project in a market with many challenges. She said that the developer wanted to create a project of high quality while being sensitive to the local economic reality.

Ilieva said that the building will be a mix of studios and one-bedroom units in addition to the majority of units with two or three bedrooms.

Ilieva stated that the property is one of the most challenging aspects to the project. The property extends about 500 feet back into a floodplain and the elevation changes dramatically from the front to back. The building, which is 300 feet in length, has three stories in front along Frederick Avenue. It then rises to five stories in the rear.

On the first and second floors, a two-story garage will have around 56 parking spaces. The wellness center will also be on these two floors. It will feature a covered terrace and an open-air community area that will lead to the lawn and garden at the rear.

Richard Jones, landscape architect for the project, explained that the lawn was divided into two smaller and larger plots so different groups could use them simultaneously. The loop walk will have a foraging area with easy-to maintain plants like berries and wild onion on one side, while the orchard will be located on the other.

A raised courtyard will be built along the west side and a lounge/lobby will be at the front along Frederick Avenue. Stormwater management will be installed in the flood plain at the very back of the building.

Ilieva stated that they wanted the building to blend in with the surrounding neighborhood. The building is about 10 feet away from the road and the same height as both houses. The steep elevation and dense foliage on the site at the rear of the site ensure that the building does not stick out over the nearby housing development.

Win Willis, with Bull Development, also informed the panel of the extensive outreach his company had done with the neighborhood in the past year and a quarter. He said that the renderings were shown at a meeting of the community last week, and there was a positive response. Many people were excited by the collaborative nature.

Osborne Anthony said that a project of this kind makes you feel Baltimore. Sharon Bradley, landscape architect, also praised 'passive environment education' which will take place in the outdoor spaces.

Anthony said that the project took him back to the Covid-19 pandemic when outdoor space was highly valued.