By Kevin Collison
A historic building at 1520 Main St. is slated to be demolished soon to make way for interim parking and eventual use as a development site for a possible residential tower.
Robb Heineman, CEO of FanThreeSixty, said his firm wants to eventually develop the entire property occupied by the 1520 Main building and an adjoining parking lot to the north into a large-scale project that could include a hotel and/or apartments and first floor retail.
“We could put a 15-story apartment tower on that easily with an interior garage for residents and workers,” he said. “We have had some renderings done for a project like that, but it could completely change.”
The three-story stone building with a first-level glass storefront was completed in 1889, making it one of the oldest in the Crossroads Arts District. It was last known as the Lane Blueprint building. A permit has been obtained and demolition is expected to begin in a couple of weeks.
Preservationists have pushed to save 1520 Main since it was purchased in 2011 by what was then known as Sporting Innovations, now FanThreeSixty.
Its acquisition was part of a redevelopment that included the renovation of the nearby historic Hanna Rubber Co. building at 1511 Baltimore into offices. An existing gravel parking lot on the southwest corner of Truman Road and Main also was part of the acquisition package.
For now, Heineman said the old 1520 Main building will be razed and combined with the existing lot to create what will be a 120-space, paved parking lot for employees at the six-story Hanna Rubber building. Heineman said about 110 people work there.
The decision to move forward with razing the building and creating a new parking area was prompted by the soon-to-begin convention hotel project across Baltimore from the FanThreeSixty offices. The hotel project will eliminate a city parking lot used by employees on the west side of Baltimore, Heineman said.
J.E. Dunn Construction also is planning to use the second floor of the Hanna Rubber building as a construction office during the convention hotel project.
Lisa Briscoe, executive director of Historic Kansas City, said her historic preservation organization has been closely monitoring the situation at 1520 Main since 2011. The building has been listed twice on the organization’s most endangered list.
She said the owner has done structural studies of the old property, but her organization has not seen the results.
“We look forward to hearing more about the results of the structural assessment and whether this demolition permit is part of a bigger effort for the future use of this site,” Briscoe said. “Hopefully, it’s not another case of demolition by neglect.”
Heineman realizes the decision to raze 1520 Main is controversial, but said the building is in bad condition and the property could be better used for a large-scale project that takes advantage of the adjacent streetcar line.
“The building is in such disrepair,” he said. “The facade is a mix of sandstone and limestone which is difficult to repair. The better use for the entire property is a larger redevelopment.
“We’re not opposed to preserving historic buildings, we did it with the Hanna Rubber building.”