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Historic Hendler Creamery gets OK for apartments

A historic red-brick structure in East Baltimore that once housed the country’s first fully automated ice cream factory will soon be converted to 250 market-rate apartments, a city historic review panel voted Tuesday.

The former Hendler Creamery, located in the Jonestown community near Little Italy, will be redeveloped and renamed The Hendler beginning late next summer as part of a $45 million project.

Hendler Creamery

Two Baltimore structures moved closer to preservation at Tuesday’s meeting of the city’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. The former Hendler Creamery at 1100 E. Baltimore St. will become apartments. (The Daily Record Photo/Maximilian Franz)

The Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation unanimously approved plans to add a modern, cubic, six-story apartment building next to the creamery, at 1100 E. Baltimore St. In total, the new project will encompass an entire city block between Fayette and Baltimore streets once built out.

The Hendler Creamery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was purchased by Commercial Development, a Hanover-based developer, last year for $1.1 million. The creamery first opened in 1892 as a cable car building, and later housed a street car company and a theater before being purchased by the Hendler Ice Cream Co. in 1912.

Brian McLaughlin, a principal in Commercial Development, told CHAP members that the project would hold market-rate apartments that would lease for about $1,600 for a one-bedroom apartment.

“We wanted an audacious and bold project there,” he said.

Wendell Leimback, a board member of the McKim Center, a community outreach group located in a historic building next to the Hendler Creamery, told CHAP members the group supported the new apartment project.

“The developer has talked to us as a board about helping McKim with our buildings,” he said. “We support it.”

Commercial Development must return to CHAP to present plans for landscaping, roof design, window replacement and masonry repairs as well as other development details.

Theater preserved

One of Baltimore’s treasured former movie houses, the 78-year-old Ambassador Theatre, was placed on the Special List for historic preservation at the CHAP meeting.

The designation means proposed changes to the yellow-brick structure, located at 4604 Liberty Heights Ave. in Howard Park, will be strictly monitored.

Ambassador Theater

The Ambassador Theatre, at 4604 Liberty Heights Ave., could go to auction in March. (The Daily Record Photo/Maximilian Franz)

The Ambassador was designed by John J. Zink, who also drew plans for two other Art Deco movie palaces in Baltimore, the Senator and Patterson theaters.

Legend has it that Barry Levinson saw “On the Waterfront” at the Ambassador in 1954 and was inspired to become a filmmaker, CHAP officials were told.

Owned by Larry Gaston Enterprises, the Ambassador is currently in receivership and could go to public auction after March 1, 2014. Parts of it were damaged in a July 2012 blaze.