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Demolished historic Baltimore mill properties’ owner pursues apartment building

The city of Baltimore issued a stop-work order after developers demolished two historic mills in Woodberry. (Adam Bednar)

The city of Baltimore issued a stop-work order after developers demolished two historic mills in Woodberry. Developers are now resuming efforts to build apartment buildings on the site. (Adam Bednar)

The property owner who razed historic mill properties in Baltimore’s Woodberry neighborhood has resumed efforts to build apartments on the obliterated buildings’ site.

JP2 Architects LLC presented schematics for a 51-unit apartment building at 3511 Clipper Mill Road to Baltimore’s Urban Design and Architecture Advisory Panel on Thursday. The panel’s agenda listed Woodberry Station LLC as the project’s developer.

John Hutch, principal at JP2 Architects, said the development team intends to use recycled materials from the razed structures for wrapping around the base of the new apartment building.

“We are reusing a lot of the stone from the site,” Hutch said to the panelists during the presentation.

Hutch, after the hearing, was unable to say what type of material that has been made by the recycled stones. Woodberry Station LLC, he said, is keeping the materials safe nearby so “they don’t walk away.”

“I know (Woodberry Station LLC’s) protecting everything that they can,” he said.

Designs for the four-story building along the Light Rail tracks to the west of Interstate 83 include a “private, intimate courtyard” and a large mural on a south-facing exterior wall. There is no parking planned.

Noticeably cooler than usual during exchanges, panel members, who only serve in an advisory capacity, said they were underwhelmed by the design.

“It’s an oversimplified geometric arrangement,” Osborne Anthony, a panelist and architect, said. “I’d like to see a lot more playful activity occur.”

While Woodberry Station continues to seek design approval for the new building, the firm still faces a potential lawsuit from Baltimore over the demolitions.

City Solicitor Andre Davis, in the days after the building were destroyed, said the he was exploring suing the property owner.

Then in late July Davis said the city law department “took a look” at filing a lawsuit against Woodberry Station LLC. Davis said, however, he was “not encouraged” by the potential of success for such a case, adding he had not “given up on it.”

Baltimore’s housing department fined Woodberry Station LLC $3,000 and Demolition Man Contracting $1,000 in May for code violations during the demolition. A spokeswoman for the department was not immediately able to provide an update on the status of those fines.

Previously, Woodberry Station worked with developer CLD Partners and and architects PI.KL Studio to develop a transit-oriented development with apartments on the site.

Initially, Christopher Mfume, managing partner at CLD Partners, planned to tear down the 19th century mill buildings to clear way for an 80-unit apartment building.

Community members strongly opposed that proposal, and Mfume went back to the drawing board. In June 2018, along with PI.KL Studio principal Pavlina Ilieva’s, UDAAP’s chairwoman, Mfume presented a new design. That proposal incorporated the mill buildings’ stone walls into the new structure’s exterior and interior.

After the demolition of the properties Mfume first issued a statement saying the buildings were too expensive to keep. He then issued a second statement that said he was unaware of demolition plans and that he’d quit the project.

PI.KL Studio also quit the project following the demolition. Ilieva did not attend the schematic review on Thursday.

A sign-in sheet for the UDAAP session listed a “Kathy Jennings” in attendance. Woodberry Station LLC’s corporate charter lists a Katherine Jennings as resident agent.

After the hearing the only woman sitting with the architects during the presentation declined to identify herself. She covered the name on a visitor’s tag issued by building security, and used a folder to shield herself from having her photo take before leaving the Department of Planning’s offices.

Maryland business registry records show Woodberry Station LLC sharing an address with Valstone Partners, a private equity company co-founded by Larry Jennings. Philanthropic announcements posted online list a Katherine Jennings as the wife of Larry Jennings.

VS Clipper Mill LLC, an affiliate of Val Stone Partners, purchased the Clipper Mill development down the street from 3511 Clipper Road in 2017 for nearly $19 million. After the demolition Larry Jennings said his firm played “absolutely zero” role in the proposed development and subsequent destruction of the historic buildings.

“I can’t comment on Kathy Jennings’ business activities,” he said at the time.

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