Wexford Science + Technology is proposing a $200 million expansion of the University of Maryland BioPark, seeking to fill a void between the existing campus and the University of Maryland, Baltimore on downtown’s west side.

The centerpiece of the project would be a 300,000-square-foot glass office and laboratory building atop a 300-space underground parking garage. The 10-story tower would be part of the first phase of development, which would include converting a neighboring vacant fire house into a food concept.

The project is being planned on a 2-acre parcel along Martin Luther King Boulevard and West Baltimore Street. The Silver Moon restaurant is not a part of the project.

“It has been our goal, our dream, our ambition to use that 700 block of West Baltimore Street as this critical connector,” said Jane Shaab, executive director of the UM BioPark.

An artist’s rendering of a 10-story tower planned along Martin Luther King Boulevard and West Baltimore Street. The building would house laboratory and office space as part of the University of Maryland BioPark. ZGF Architects

Wexford and University of Maryland, Baltimore officials presented initial plans for phase one to the city’s Urban Design and Architecture Advisory Panel on Thursday. Gregory Herlong, a development director for Wexford, said the goal is to break ground on the project by year’s end.

“This building is really the bridge between the existing campus and the BioPark,” he said. “Right now we have this void.”

Developed by Baltimore-based Wexford, the UMB BioPark currently holds two research buildings totaling 340,000 square feet. About 1,000 people work at the BioPark.

Office and research space continues to be in high demand, Herlong said, noting recent UMB success stories such as Paragon Bioservices that agreed to be acquired last month for $1.2 billion.

University of Maryland, Baltimore President Dr. Jay Perman has long identified the parcel of land along Martin King Luther Boulevard and West Baltimore Street as a key piece to connecting the school and the BioPark. During a 2014 state of the university address, he showed off a rendering of a 30-story apartment tower on the site that he emphasized was more of “a vision” than an immediate reality.

In recent years, a nonprofit created by the University of Maryland, Baltimore to oversee the

BioPark has acquired the parcels making up the 2-acre site from the city and various private entities.

A second phase of the expansion will be driven by market demand, Herlong said. Plans could include additional lab and office space or residential, he said. The $200 million price tag covers the first phase of the project.

Architecture firm ZGF designed the proposed phase one tower. Baltimore-based Mahan Rykiel is also working on the project.

Wexford’s proposed development would be the latest in a wave of investment just west of downtown across Martin Luther King Boulevard. Cross Street Partners last year completed a historic conversion of the 38,000-square-foot Lion Brothers Building at 875 Hollins St. into office space. Nearby, the Hollins Market is also slated for redevelopment. The Archdiocese of Baltimore plans to build the city’s first new Catholic school in nearly 60 years near the BioPark on the site of the former Lexington Terrace Elementary School.

Source: Baltimore Business Journal by Ryan Sharrow | May 16, 2019