Anyone curious about Baltimore’s former industrial sites might be frustrated by a smelly jumble of small streets at the western end of Fells Point.
Until about 15 years ago, places like Block and Point Street were off-limits to casual observers – they were off-limits, a no-go zone because what was going on there was dangerous.
The site was once a busy, working and dirty waterfront. The ships called at Jenkins and Kerr docks. There was also industry – the Lacy Iron Foundry, the Baltimore Pulverizing Co. and the Baltimore Chrome Works, which became Baugh Chemicals and Allied Signal.
It was a neighborhood of gravelly coal yards and acres of lumber yards.
All that changed for good as this 27-acre parcel, now called Harbor Point, underwent a dramatic transformation. He started pushing new office and apartment buildings about 12 years ago and this summer the pile drivers and heavy equipment are hard at work on the new T. Rowe Price building, in fact two separate seven-story pavilions connected by a glass hall-atrium.
T. Rowe Price has set high standards for durability. It is aiming for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum status for workspaces. And because it rises along the harbor shoreline, the structure requires more than 600 steel piles.
T. Rowe estimates that 2,500 people will occupy the buildings spread around a 4.5-acre waterfront public park. It will take two years for this waterfront business campus to be completed.
Harbor Point is gradually growing and still worth visiting, if only to realize how drastically Baltimore is changing. Some might say you don’t know you’re in Baltimore, but really, isn’t Little Italy just steps away?
The summer of 2022 is interesting from a physical development point of view. The pandemic seems to be a thing of the past. Pennsylvania station is surrounded by scaffolding. A new Lexington Market is about to open. The first parking lot is under construction at the former Perkins Homes site in southeast Baltimore.
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Port Covington is taking shape on the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River and here at Harbor Point another element is just beginning to emerge.
Harbor Point is not a neighborhood in the sense of Hamilton or Upton, although its roots are as old as Baltimore. Located off Central Avenue between Inner Harbor and Fells Point, Harbor Point’s roots date back to the 1770s, when Baltimore was establishing itself as a trading port.
Recent arrivals include the office and hotel building called Wills Wharf. It is a neighbor of the headquarters of Exelon. There are plenty of apartments with great city views and a busy Whole Foods Market in the Liberty Harbor East tower.
Harbor Point is strictly the new Baltimore of glass and steel, built high up. It’s organized and clean. There is a landscaped central park where the turf grass looks like it was grown in a lab. The trees are perfectly maintained.
“We wanted our park to feel good and welcoming,” said Chris Seiler of Beatty Development Group, the developer of Harbor Point. “Since the end of the pandemic, we have seen people come back outside and hang out. It’s exciting to see signs of something like normal.
If you’re looking for a great view of beautiful Baltimore Harbor, this is the place for the oohs and ahs. I found myself spotting the familiar old landmarks – the steeple of St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Church across the water on Riverside Avenue in Federal Hill, the Domino Sugar sign, and Tide Point.
Harbor Point comes at a price. The City of Baltimore awarded Beatty Development Group a $107 million grant to kick-start redevelopment of what had been a moribund Rust Belt brownfield.