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Baltimore officials consider selling city-owned office tower at 7 E. Redwood St., most likely for conversion to apartments

Baltimore’s urban landscape might soon see another office-to-apartment conversion taking place, this time on Redwood Street. The Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) is actively exploring the possibility of selling the 20-story office tower situated at 7 E. Redwood St., with strong indications that it could be an ideal candidate for transformation into apartments. City Council member Eric Costello has introduced legislation that seeks to authorize the sale, a move endorsed by the council’s Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Costello, during a recent public hearing.

Although a prospective buyer hasn’t been publicly identified, the city is already in the preliminary stages of preparing for the potential sale, having been approached by interested parties inquiring about the building’s purchase. The city must wait for the enabling legislation to be passed before formally putting the building on the market. However, city officials are leaning towards the concept of converting it into residential units, which they deem as the most likely outcome.

Should the city proceed with a sale to a residential developer, the tower at 7 E. Redwood St. will join a growing list of more than two dozen downtown office buildings and hotels that have undergone successful conversions into apartment complexes over the past decade.

BDC’s Executive Vice President, Kimberly “Kim” Clark, stated that the decision to explore a sale was prompted by a surge in interest from various entities. She highlighted the building’s architectural splendor, describing it as “gorgeous” and expressed hopes of garnering significant interest in the property.

Around a decade to fifteen years ago, Baltimore’s central business district was sparsely populated. However, the introduction of incentives such as high-performance and historic preservation tax credits sparked a shift, encouraging developers to convert older office buildings into apartments. This transformation, driven by tax credits and other incentives, has not only revitalized downtown Baltimore but has also created a vibrant urban community that was practically nonexistent before.

Constructed in 1924, the tower occupies the southwest corner of Redwood and Light streets and is also addressed as 14-18 Light St. It boasts approximately 150,000 square feet of leasable office space. The city has held partial ownership since the 1990s and assumed full ownership in 2013.

In recent years, the building has served as a space for various city-related agencies and departments, capitalizing on its proximity to City Hall. Notable occupants include divisions of the Baltimore City Police Department, the Mayor’s Office of Human Services, and several commissions and boards within the Office of Civil Rights & Wage Enforcement.

Although the building’s appraised value stands at $10 million, it’s projected that approximately $18 million will be required for crucial capital improvements, including elevator and mechanical system upgrades. This financial consideration has further spurred the city’s contemplation of selling the property.

Before the BDC can officially market the building, both the full City Council and Baltimore’s Board of Estimates need to approve the legislation put forth by Costello. The council bill is scheduled to be presented to the Board of Estimates on September 20. In the event that a buyer wishes to proceed with the conversion to apartments, the interconnectedness of the current tenants, all affiliated with city government, makes it feasible for city officials to facilitate the relocation process.

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