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BDC close to deal for the Parkway Theatre Redevelopment Project

The Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) says that, it will enter into negotiations with the development team of Seawall Development Company, owned by Donald and Thibault Manekin, and Cormony Development LLC, owned by Samuel Polakoff, for the Parkway Theatre Redevelopment Project located at 1820 North Charles Street, 1 West North Avenue and 3 West North Avenue--the former Parkway Theatre.

Baltimore's Parkway Theatre was designed by Oliver B. Wright and patterned after the West End Theatre near Leicester Square in London. The theatre was acquired in 1926 by the Loews organization and extensively remodeled. Movies remained the mainstay until the theatre was acquired and closed in 1952 by the Morris Mechanic organization. It reopened in 1956 as the Five West Art Theatre, continuing that operation into the mid 1970's when it again closed and remained so until the early 1990's when an attempt was made to open commercial office space in the rear orchestra level. The theatre has remained vacant since 1998.

Seawall and Cormony have proposed a $12.2 million mixed-use project, featuring a 26,189 square foot build-out that incorporates the three properties into a seamless development that celebrates the arts. The team's design incorporates a performing arts venue, bar, a museum and related support space.

The Parkway will undergo an historic renovation, becoming a multi-faceted theatre able to accommodate a wide variety of entertainment. While the focus will be on live music, other options are expected to include community theatre, children's shows, comedy, movies, lectures, and a catering hall.

The existing building at 1 West North Avenue would be replaced with new construction in order to achieve a vibrant, illuminated corner. The new structure will feature a lobby and office for the theatre on the lower levels and commercial uses on the upper floors. Meanwhile, the fa´┐Żade of 1820 North Charles Street will be retained. Each floor in this building becomes an extension of the space on the same floor in 1 West North Avenue. The first floor will house the kitchen for the theatre.

"This proposal and this development team provide a great opportunity to revitalize a historic structure and reinvigorate the most critical area in the Charles North community," says BDC President M.J. "Jay" Brodie. "We are confident that this project will serve as a catalyst for more private investment throughout the community."

The proposal is the result of a Request for Proposals issued in May 2009,  in which the BDC offered the three properties, located within Charles North, the Station North Arts and Entertainment District and the City's Enterprise Zone, for redevelopment. BDC received just two responses to the RFP.

Both a community-appointed Advisory Panel and BDC's Project Review and Oversight Committee unanimously approved the Seawall/Cormony proposal. Subsequently, the Board of Directors of BDC endorsed the proposal and Mayor Sheila Dixon approved the Board's recommendation.

Source The Baltimore Development Corporation
Writer: Walaika Haskins

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