210 N. Charles Owner, LLC, a joint venture partnership formed by residential developer Trademark Properties and local investor Prab Thangarajah, has acquired 210 North Charles Street, a 15-story, 232,000 square foot commercial office tower situated within the Charles Center section of downtown Baltimore City for an undisclosed amount from PGA 210 North Charles Street, LLC. Originally delivered in 1894 as an eight-story structure, the new ownership group intends to convert the asset, also known as The Fidelity & Deposit Building into a multifamily use containing approximately 220 apartment units. Brad Byrnes of Byrnes & Associates, Inc., a Baltimore-based boutique commercial real estate and investment company, represented the buyer in this sales transaction.

   The local ownership group intends to initiate the conversion process next month with plans to deliver a mix of studio and one- and two-bedroom designs ranging from 500 to 2000 square feet of livable space by spring 2024. The adaptation will also feature the creation of a street-level restaurant component, featuring a corner vault room, complete with an outdoor seating area that overlooks Center Plaza. In addition, two or three retail spaces will be carved out of the street-level and leased to end-users. The partnership has also signed an agreement to provide resident parking for approximately 180 residents within the underground facility at 222 North Charles Street.

“After standing vacant and unused for approximately 20 years, this iconic building will soon spring to life, increase the vibrancy of downtown with the influx of new residents and retailers and add to the tax base of Baltimore City,” stated Brad Byrnes of Byrnes & Associates, Inc. “This is yet another visible sign of the positive turnaround gathering momentum in Downtown Baltimore.”

History of The Fidelity & Deposit Building

The structure was designed in a Romanesque Revival style by architects Ephraim Francis Baldwin and Josias Pennington and constructed with a façade of grey, rough-cut granite and eventually served as the headquarters for The Fidelity & Deposit Company of Baltimore. Between 1912 and 1915, and under the direction of future governor Edwin Warfield, the financial institution enlarged the building by seven stories to accommodate growth and, in 1968, a three-story annex was also added on the building’s north and west sides. The first-floor lobby is finished with polished granite flooring, marble veneer wall panels and a decorative vaulted ceiling.

Despite decimating the majority of the city’s downtown district, the tower survived the Great Baltimore Fire in 1904. The former owner acquired 210 North Charles Street in 1999 and it has remained vacant since the early 2000s.   

Demand for multifamily product expected to increase in Baltimore City

According to data compiled by Delta Associates, the vacancy rate for luxury multifamily units in the greater Baltimore City area, comprising approximately 12,000 luxury units, stood at 2.4% earlier this year. The average monthly rental rate is approaching $2000 which represents a nearly 14% rise from the start of 2020 and nearly 70,000 jobs were added to the Baltimore metropolitan market last year.

Population growth has been especially profound in Census Tract 401, Baltimore, MD as defined by the area that encapsulates Charles Center and is bounded by S. Paca Street to the west and W. Franklin Street to the north. The number of housing units has increased by nearly 97% over the past 10 years, with population rising nearly 70%.     

The multifamily sector was among the most prolific performers during the healthcare crisis over the past two years as residents retreated to their homes and apartments to establish home offices during the mandated lockdown period and beyond. Many of these employees are expected to shift to hybrid work situations as employees continue to relax workplace guidelines and provide increased flexibility to its employee base.  

Baltimore City maintains numerous downtown employers in the financial services, healthcare, business and life sciences industries and, despite the new mixed-use developments rising along the eastern and southern edges of the city, there remains an extremely healthy demand for high-quality residential housing across the region.  

Local and out-of-town investment groups are recognizing and responding to this trend as evidenced by recent multifamily community sales in Baltimore’s central business district, with an emphasis in Mt. Vernon, Federal Hill and the central business district.       

Continued population growth of Baltimore City brings renewed vibrancy

“Numerous economic fundamentals are driving the interest among multifamily and commercial office buyers in Downtown Baltimore, led by a significantly lower cost of living as compared to East Coast cities, less congestion, access to Washington, D.C. and multiple beach resort cities,” added Brad Byrnes. “Both businesses and individuals remain optimistic about the future as conditions improve and more entities make significant investments in the City. This includes the approaching opening of the new $44 million Lexington Market renovation, as well as the impending $155 million improvement to the Royal Farms Arena. Across the board, investors are gaining more clarity on the City's future as office workers slowly migrate back to downtown to add energy to the streets and activity to the restaurants.”

Additional indications of economic development vibrancy within one block of 210 N. Charles St include last year’s sale of 10 N. Charles Street, another long-term vacant building, to Alertus Technologies who is bringing 120 employees and repositioning the building as a technology lab and commercial office building. BGE is also increasing the size of its Baltimore footprint with its purchase of the nearly vacant 170,000 square foot building at 120 W. Fayette St located next to its headquarters.

Residential experience of new ownership group

Headquartered in Baltimore City, Trademark Properties specializes in the development and management of multifamily and mixed-use communities, including the conversion of historic buildings into residential uses. Recent projects include 19 E. Fayette Street, 1214 N. Eutaw Place and 300 W. Fayette Street.

About Byrnes & Associates, Inc.

Byrnes & Associates, Inc. is a boutique real estate company providing a comprehensive array of commercial real estate brokerage, leasing, redevelopment and asset management services to institutional and private investors, companies and other owners. Since 1981, the company has been involved in a number of historical redevelopment projects including The Professional Building, The Latrobe Building and The McDowell Building. Over the past year, Byrnes & Associates has brokered the sale of several high-profile projects in Baltimore City including The Munsey Apartment Building, the Lanahan Building on 22 Light Street and the recent 120,000 square foot multifamily conversion at 300 W. Fayette St.

The company continues to be involved in numerous charities and business organizations throughout the city. Last year, the company relocated its corporate headquarters to The Vickers Exchange at 225 E. Redwood St in anticipation of expected growth of its brokerage and development business.