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Apartments added to plans for Exelon tower at Harbor Point

The Harbor Point offices for Exelon Corp. will have a new addition: 105 apartment units, spread across five floors, to compliment office and retail space as well as a huge trading floor for the energy giant, Beatty Development Group officials said Thursday.

Harbor Point development site.

The addition surprised some city officials, including a city councilman who challenged the request by developer Michael Beatty for $107 million in tax increment financing bonds for the $1.8 billion project, to be built out over a dozen years.

In addition, city development officials said the addition of apartments in the Exelon building will eliminate a portion of the project’s Enterprise Zone tax credits, which are available only for commercial uses.

In a presentation before the city’s Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel Thursday, architects hired by the developer said they have redesigned the project over the past several months to add the residential units and eliminate some office space.

The apartments will be studio and one-bedroom units, located in bands of 21, with some abutting a parking garage just below the trading floor of the new Exelon Building.

“Residential is going to make this project better,” said Jonathan Flesher, senior development director for Beatty Development. “It will have more of a 24/7 environment and we have the goal of building a mixed-use campus like Harbor East.”

Flesher said the addition of a residential component also “helps us in terms of getting the building financed.”

City Councilman Carl Stokes, chairman of the council’s Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee, said Thursday he was unaware of the plans to convert planned office space in the Exelon tower to apartments.

“The lack of complete transparency has and will continue to be a concern of citizens and some of the elected officials,” Stokes said, as he attended a UDARP presentation on another city project, the 25th Street Station in Remington.

The Harbor Point project was the subject of a bruising debate at City Hall this summer as developer Michael Beatty sought a $107 million tax increment financing package from city officials in order to help pay for elements of the project such as infrastructure, a four-lane bridge and public parks.

Following a series of contentious public hearings before Stokes’ committee, the City Council voted on Sept. 9 to award the TIF to Beatty.

Stokes questioned whether the addition of residential units to the Exelon building would negate a portion of Enterprise Zone credit from the state.

Joann Logan, spokeswoman for the Baltimore Development Corp., said Thursday that it would.

“For all mixed-use projects, the Enterprise Zone credit can only be used for the commercial portion of the development,” Logan wrote in an email to The Daily Record. “The Enterprise Zone credit cannot be applied to the residential portion of the building.”

The UDARP members, while supportive of the residential component, voted to reject the new design and requested that Beatty Development return with new drawings.

The original design called for a tri-level, L-shaped building of glass and metal with a decorative brick façade framing retail and parking on the lowest level to be constructed near the foot of Central Avenue. At its tallest point, the 600,000-square-foot building would rise 23 stories.

The addition of the apartment units eliminated a row of brick arches from the lowest portion of the development, where the five-level parking garage will be built, capped off by Exelon’s trading floor.

Instead, the new design includes a glass exterior, which will ensure that all apartments have windows, the panel was told by architects from Boston-based Elkus | Manfredi Architects.

Members of the panel said they were confused about the re-presentation of the design that UDARP had voted to approve in January after lengthy review and discussion.

“Is this an amendment?” UDARP member Gary A. Bowden asked of the changes.

Bowden said the differences in the proposed façade changes the overall intent of the presentation, which would appear to be three separate buildings at Harbor Point.

“I’m not sold with this solution,” he said. “Is there a way for you to continue to express two different buildings, and maybe three different buildings and keep a concept for which the design was approved? I now find it mundane and repetitive.”

The panel also questioned a newly designed grand entrance to the Exelon tower — a modern glass block structure with a black granite floor that panel members likened to an Apple computer store.

Beatty Development executives have said they plan to break ground on the Exelon building this fall.