Ground Up

The Daily Record's real estate blog

Port Covington developer ‘bullish’ on Baltimore apartments

Executives from the lead developer of the $5.5 billion Port Covington project aren’t sweating the potential for Baltimore to be saturated with new apartments.

Weller Development Co. plans 260 residential units in the first phase of what the company is calling “Chapter 1” of development, which includes more than 1.3 million square feet of residential building.

“We’re pretty bullish on the apartment market here, and I think more importantly our delivery is going into (2021), which is several years out. So it’s a big difference (from) where the market is today,” Marc Weller, a partner at Weller Development, said. “We think a lot of those units that are coming up will be absorbed by then.”

Port Covington’s location in the city, with immediate access to Interstate 95 and proximity to Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport make the apartments at the site attractive, Weller said. He compared the expected market for rental units in Port Covington to that in the nearby Locust Point neighborhood.

Developers in the city have invested heavily in building new apartments, and converting outdated office space into residential units.

Those projects range from luxury units in the 44-story 414 Light St. project to cheaper efficiency units in The Daily Record’s former offices at 11 E. Saratoga St.

Rent at those projects, according to the website Apartments.com, range from $775 a month for a studio on Saratoga Street to $9,775 a month for the most expensive two-bedroom unit in the Light Street tower.

A recent report by the website RentCafe found that rent growth in Baltimore was among the weakest in the nation’s 252 largest metro markets.

In August, according to that report, rents in Baltimore essentially stayed flat year over year. While rents nationally, spurred by a slowdown in building, increased 3.1 percent year over year last month.

Another website, RealPage, listed the city among its “laggards” in terms of rent growth in July. That study found apartment rent growth in Baltimore nudging up by 1 percent from the year before, compared to the national average of 2.3 percent.

But RentCafe’s report, put together with data culled from Yardi Matrix, showed Baltimore keeping good company in terms of slow rent growth. Manhattan, Philadelphia, and Washington were also among cities with the lowest growth in rents compared to August the year before.

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