Architecture, interior design, landscaping, and art. While some multifamily developers see these as just line items in the expense column, many understand that they are key to defining a property’s personality.
When the Bozzuto Group planned to develop a prime property next to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the company chose to go beyond the basic expenditures and invest more in these soft costs to create an exceptional community.
Judges of NAHB’s Multifamily Pillars of the Industry Awards found the developer’s approach to be a resounding success—so much so that they named Union Wharf the 2014 Multifamily Community of the Year
Union Wharf is located at the south end of the eclectic neighborhood of Fell’s Point, and surrounded by water on three sides. The community’s overall design maximizes water views for its residents.
Developer Toby Bozzuto estimates that 75 to 80 percent of the homes look over the water, boat docks, and marinas. And while swimming in the harbor isn’t an option, the community offers a dramatic alternative: a 120-foot swimming pool that stretches toward the harbor view.
And to share the water view wealth, architects from Baltimore-based Hord Copland Macht created courtyards that not only give inner units a water view through lovely landscaping, but also punctuate the waterside promenade with landscaped gardens and a pocket park that’s open to the public.
Union Wharf’s 281 market-rate homes come in a mix of sizes, from studio to two-bedroom with den.
The mix includes 31 efficient studio units–from 600 to 750 square feet and now 100 percent occupied–sized and priced for renters for whom great design, amenities, and location were more important than square footage.
The community’s location–created from infill more than a century ago–boasts a varied and colorful history, including a stint as an oyster cannery and a shipbuilding enterprise.
The architect and the developer incorporated green building features and practices at every phase of design and construction, eventually earning a LEED Silver certification for the project. As part of that effort, 90 percent of the project’s construction waste was diverted to recycling facilities instead of landfills, and nearly a quarter of the materials used in the construction incorporated recycled content.
It also was important to the builder to use locally sourced materials, both to reduce carbon energy used to transport materials and to support the local economy. Re-use also played a part in the community’s development: Wood from buildings at the former Rosecroft racetrack nearby was repurposed as part of Union Wharf’s common areas.
Union Wharf’s two-story lobby and amenity area offers a modern, tasteful mix of nautical and industrial elements with fresh contemporary touches. Wood, metal, and concrete are softened by rugs, pillows, upholstered furniture, and colorful artwork. Hallway light fixtures suggest updated naval beacons, while the contemporary-style extended pendants in the lobby area and clubroom cast an inviting glow.
The expansive two-story glass walls–open in good weather–invite passers-by to not only see the amenities but also to enjoy some of the décor, which includes art pieces from local artists and craftspeople.
Conveniences and Extras
While Union Wharf’s most obvious amenities are the harbor and great neighborhood, there’s no shortage of modern conveniences. A 24-hour concierge helps with life’s small challenges, such as daily dry cleaning service, mail pickup, package delivery, and plant care for traveling residents, as well as round-the-clock emergency maintenance for more serious issues. Residents can also enjoy a movie in the screening room, get a workout in at the fitness center, swim in the infinity pool or read a book in the lounge.
After quoting his father Tom (the company’s founder) as describing residential building as “creating sanctuary,” Toby Bozzuto went on to say that “you can’t create sanctuary by skimping on the details.” The decision to invest more in the site, he said, allowed the company to create somewhere beautiful for future residents to live .