Briefing on 733 W Pratt

Type of meeting: 
Architectural review committee (ARC)
Meeting date: 
Wednesday, September 30, 2020



  • Yonah Zahler (owner)
  • Al Barry (representative)
  • Arjun Hosakere (architect)


  • Paul Rubenson (Chairperson)
  • Clarissa Howison
  • Deb O’Neill

RDA Board

  • Al Passarella (President)
  • Bill Reuter (VP, Communications)
  • Si Saulynas (Secretary)
  • Chad Terry (Treasurer)
  • Megan Moorer (Member-At-Large)
    (With many thanks to Kurtis Donnelly for providing Tech Support.)

Zahlco’s Presentations

Al Barry began with an overview of the project and what the CHAP hearing will address.

  • The CHAP hearing on 10/13 will deal with the concept of this design and massing.
  • CHAP has indicated that they do not like Option 1, so we will only be dealing with Option 2.

Yonah Zahler then provided the following additional information.

  • Zahlco became aware of the problems with the buildings and decided to explore obtaining these properties to finish out this block.  There have been difficulties and delays finalizing the sale because of the position and response from the current owner, but the property is now under contract.
  • Yonah has spoken to the owners of the Sailcloth Factory, which manages both that building and 739 W Pratt, and Guppy Management, which manages the properties on the 700 block of Dover.
  • The properties at 733/737 W Pratt and 207 S Fremont now under contract.
  • Design
    • Zahlco’s objective was to respect the historic façade on W Pratt St.
      • This is a 3-story building but the height of the floors is short, making it difficult for them to work with from an interior standpoint.
      • Their objective was to retain the historic façade back to the ridge line and top it with glass to highlight the facade.
      • Two of the three stories will make up the lobby.
    • Because of the cost for the property Zahlco feels that they must have a certain number of units to make this project work financially for them,
    • Because of the delays in finalizing the sale, they also feel that they must quickly obtain approval for the project from the city so that they can swing the work crew for 725 W Pratt to this project without a break.
  • Business Plan
    • These will be apartments, not a hotel.
      • Because of the cost of the properties, in order to make this work financially, Zahlco has to go with smaller units to make this project cost effective.
        • The apartments will be furnished and all-inclusive,
        • Zahlco will offer flexible leases.
        • They are targeting foreign students, doctors who may stay in town some evenings, visiting nurses, corporate employees on short-term detail to Baltimore, etc.

Arjun Hosakere discussed the design more specifically.

  • Option 2 retains the facades on both 733/737 W Pratt and 207 S Fremont.
  • Zahlco is seeking CHAP approval to demolish the rears of both buildings.
  • We asked for a rendering of what the rear will look like on Dover. 
    • We probably will not get one due to cost considerations unless this project is approved.
    • Review page 30 of 33 on their project plan to get a sense of what we will see, which he says is very limited.  (ARC action Item)
  • We asked for a rendering of what S Fremont will look like.
    • We probably will not get one.
    • There is only a 3’ set back on this façade.
    • Arjun said that there is a large tree that basically hides this façade.
      • Paul R pointed out that trees die and we need to know what that façade looks like.
    • There is some confusion about the size and massing in this portion of the building that the rendering could clarify.
      • We were told to review page 30 of 33 to get a sense of the size and massing. 
      • We did rereview the material following the meeting and realize there is contradictory information about how many stories this building will be (i.e., 5 versus 6).  We will contact Zahlco for clarification.

Questions from ARC members.

  • What are the correct addresses for the properties included in this project? 
    • The addresses shown on project plans are incorrect.
      • The correct addresses are 733 and 737 W Pratt and 207 S Fremont.
      • These will be corrected on the project plans,
  • S Fremont has residential zoning.  Per Al Barry, this will not be changed.
    • There may be access to the building from S Fremont, but the address for the project will be 733 W Pratt.
      • The addresses and zoning matter to the neighborhood because they drive whether the project has the right to reclaim some of our RPP spaces.
  • We asked about the possibility of them preserving any interesting parts of the interior like they did in the Eklof Building.
    • The insides of these buildings are in bad shape, but they will try to do that if/where it is feasible.

Zahlco will present to the community on the 7th.

  • Al Barry and Arjun are available.  They will check with Yonah on his availability.
  • Al Passarella asked them to coordinate with him offline to ensure that we schedule sufficient time for their presentation