Meeting minutes, Greenspring Realty Partners, 9/26/17

Woodberry Community Association Meeting
WJZ Conference Rm, 3725 Malden Ave. September 26, 2017

Purpose of meeting: Greenspring Realty Partners (GRP) is requesting the change in zoning for 1770 & 1780-1790 Union Ave. These 2 properties are currently zoned as Industrial (I-2) and would need to be re-zoned as I-MU (Industrial Mixed Use) to primarily allow for tenant retail opportunities.

In Attendance: Sheri Higgins (WCA Acting President), Katie Walsh (WCA Secretary), Dan Flamholz (Greenspring Realty Partners, Presenter), Al Barry (Consultant), Councilman Leon Pinkett, & community members

Intro & Overview of Greenspring Realty Partners (GRP)

  • GRP focuses on repositioning assets in Baltimore City
  • Their efforts add value to real estate and businesses, that need support
  • Has mainly focused on the I-83 corridor, Canton, Fells Point & Federal Hill areas
  • Some past and current projects include:
    • Five & 10¢building on the Avenue (901 W36th St.) – formerly a vacant storefront
    • Ideal building (903-905 W36th St.) an arts collective – formerly a vacant storefront
    • Parole Building – now home to a local clothier and Department of Parole

Why they bought 1770 & 1780-1790 Union Ave.

  • The size – Total building size of 1780-1790 Union Ave is 114,000 square feet with 52,000 square feet of warehouse space immediately available. The departure of the candy company in one warehouse, created a huge vacancy.
  • The 2 warehouses, along with the Union Collective location make up 70% of the industrial space in this region. GRP wants to allow the nonprofit community to be a part of the movement happening in the Mill region.
  • There are a number of nonprofit organizations that are operating elsewhere in very poor conditions. Bringing them to this space will enhance their ability to operate more meaningfully and safely, creating a greater impact on Baltimore.
  • Many of their potential tenants have already signed letters of intent to lease 42,000 sq. ft. of the space.
  • GRP is not interested in redevelopment but rather upgrades to existing structures such as a few storefronts, energy efficient lighting and windows, donation drop off areas and bathrooms.

Current Tenants Remaining
A Workshop of Their Own through 2024; Blue Ridge Auto through 2028; Northeastern Signs through 2019; Three Hens through 2019
Tenants with letters of intent pending I-MU zoning approval.

  • Existing arts collective in basement currently covering 18,000sq feet of space and is up to code. This nonprofit has created a diverse workshop space featuring woodworking, painters, sculptors, dress makers, a green room, and other uses. The project was created out of exclusively recycled materials.
  • The Baltimore Community Warehouse has optioned 30,000 sq. ft. for non-profits.
  • Maryland Book Bank(nonprofit) – supplies City Schools w/ books
  • Bedtime in a Box(nonprofit) – items for impoverished parents to provide a soothing bedtime environment and routine to children
  • ShareBaby(nonprofit) – diapers and other baby essentials to parents in need
  • Leveling the Playing Field(nonprofit) – provides money / sporting supplies to inner City children involved in sports (cost for helmet, jersey, cleats, etc.)
  • A local Bakery who also needs a retail space
  • Wishbone Reserve- antique furniture business w/retail

Why is the zoning change so important?

  • Current I-2 (Industrial) zoning allows for heavy machinery and pollutants. It doesn’t allow retail which businesses and non-profits have expressed interest in.
  • Supports the “activation” of the Union Ave. corridor (in conjunction with the Union Ave. Collective project)

Questions from Woodberry residents

Q. Will condos/townhomes/apartments be built?
A. No, the warehouse structures are not suitable for retro fitting residential structures.
B. GRP only works with commercial, not residential.

Q. Will the property and the new businesses experience flooding?
A. No, these 2 structures are considered safe in the 500 year floodplain

Q. Will GRP fill the buildings with 1-year leases and then raise the rents on the non-profit tenants after the first year?
A. No, the initial tenants sign a 5-year lease. They also have the option to renew for up to 15 years.

Q. Will GRP greatly increase the rent over the course of the 5 or 15 year leases?
A. No. With the exception of the 2% market rate increase that commonly occurs, GRP has no intention of setting up the tenants for failure. Their mission is to support Nonprofits and connect them with places where they can safely thrive. They will certainly make money from these properties, but they do not wish to change their mission for helping small businesses and nonprofits.

Q. How many employees will this bring to the area?
A. About 60 employees will be in the 2 buildings (doesn’t include volunteers)

Q. How will this affect traffic in an already “bottlenecked” area of Union Ave?
A. With the exception of a handful of larger, 50-foot trucks (about 10 per year), there should be no changes to the traffic pattern and comparable to patterns of previously fully leased buildings. GRP will work with tenants towards reducing the single lane bottleneck near entrance.

  • A Brick Hill resident proposed some additional / new signage for the Union Ave. extension.

Next Steps, Timeline & Results

  • During a meeting vote, all attending were in favor of the zoning change to I-MU and early emails also indicate support.
  • The Woodberry Community Association will provide a week’s notice via email, for additional comments.
  • Once approved, a letter of support will be provided to GRP
  • WCA will create a Memo of Understanding(MOU) for GRP to sign
  • Councilman Pinkett drafts a bill that will go to the City Council on October 16th. If approved the I-MU could go into effect as early as November. This would allow tenants to begin moving in.
  • Councilman Pinkett asks that the WCA board is expeditious in decision.
  • GRP has agreed to schedule a tour of the buildings, particularly the arts collective that’s already in the basement. Date is TBD.

To learn more about GRP please visit – http://greenspringrealty.com/the-greenspring-realty-team/