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The seller of 300 St. Paul Place in downtown Baltimore was represented by the Cushman & Wakefield Capital Markets team of Cristopher Abramson, Brian Kruger and Nicholas Signor. (Cushman and Wakefield photo)

PMC plans apartments at former OneMain Financial building

PMC Property Group doesn’t think the apartment market in Baltimore is saturated.

The apartment developer, which has specialized in adaptive, reuse projects downtown at buildings such as 521 St. Paul, 301 N. Charles and 1201 N. Charles streets, has purchased 300 St. Paul Place and intends to convert the former OneMain Financial building into 270 apartments.

Steven Bloom, operating partner of PMC Property Group in Baltimore, said plans for the 314,589-square-foot, 22-story tower also include two ground floor retail spaces — possibly restaurants. He also said he envisions reconnecting the building with 301 N. Charles Street, which PMC previously converted into luxury apartments.

Citigroup still has a lease that runs through July. Once the building is vacant, and another project — which PMC has not made public — is underway, the company will begin the process of turning the property into apartments.

Bloom said he expects the process of converting the St. Paul Place property in apartments to be a much easier task than the ongoing rehab of properties the company purchased from the city, located between 30-36 S. Calvert St. He said those buildings were vacant for about two decades, which makes rehabbing them much more difficult.

“This is really a much easier conversion,” Bloom said.

Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, said he was concerned about the future of the building when OneMain Financial moved its headquarters to Harbor East. That concern was primarily because the building lacked the historic elements that led to successful rehab projects in older buildings downtown.

But, based on the success of PMC’s other projects, and Bloom’s experience with converting properties downtown, Fowler expressed optimism about the future of the building. He said that Bloom knows what he’s doing better than most, and voiced confidence in the new proposal.

“If Steve Bloom can figure out how to reuse that building and reconnect it to 301 N. Charles, I think we’ll have a home run,” Fowler said.

Despite a glut of apartments coming on the market in downtown Baltimore — in part fueled by a tax credit offered by the city for converting Class B office space — Bloom remains optimistic about his firm’s projects. He said many of the apartments in the pipeline have been there for years and that he expects many of them to remain there.

About 30 percent of the apartments planned won’t materialize, Bloom added, because they’re being pursued by outside investors who don’t understand the market in Baltimore. He said it’s unrealistic for developers to be expecting $2,000 a month for a studio apartment.

“Will there be a day when supply and demand don’t coincide? Maybe,” Bloom said.

About Adam Bednar

Adam Bednar covers real estate and development for The Daily Record.