Baltimore issues demolition permit for the Mechanic Theatre

David S. Brown Enterprises Ltd. has obtained a demolition permit to take down the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, the first sign since March 2013 that the company’s 32-story residential project is moving forward.

The building might remain standing for a few more months, though. David S. Brown Chairman Howard Brown declined an interview request, but a spokesman for Brown said the developer is more focused on finalizing details for the overall project than starting demolition right away.

Brown had fended off attempts to preserve the Mechanic, which is considered an iconic but unpopular example of Brutalist architecture. The Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation in September 2012 established a six-month waiting period to demolish the building, which has long since expired.

The Mechanic redevelopment could become part of a flurry of massive construction projects around Hopkins Plaza, where the former theater sits. At 10 Light St., Metropolitan Partnership Ltd. is about a year away from completing the 430-unit apartment conversion of the historic skyscraper, and the 22-story former PNC Bank tower at 2 Hopkins Plaza appears ripe for another apartment conversion.

Brown appears to be on the back end of Hopkins Plaza redevelopment, said Owen Rouse, the director of capital markets for Manekin LLC.

“I don’t think he can be out of the ground before” 10 Light St. begins leasing, Rouse said. “The other concern I’d have is whether the old PNC building is converted to apartments. I think that would make a pretty decent conversion, and it’s right there on the plaza, which is on the central corridor, has mass transit and has good infrastructure.”

Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc. projects Brown’s project will not be completed until at least 2016.

Kevin Litten
Reporter- Baltimore Business Journal