Demolition of long-vacant downtown building kicks off

 “The long-awaited demolition of the Bard Building on Lombard Street downtown is in the works.

Work started earlier this month to tear down the five-story, Brutalist-style academic building that was once a satellite campus for Baltimore City Community College and later became a flashpoint between one of Baltimore’s top developers and the college.

What comes next at the 1.1-acre site is anyone’s guess. Until plans to replace the building near the Inner Harbor are made, BCCC officials said they will install a green space.

Gussener T. Augustus, Jr, a spokesman for BCCC and vice president for advancement at the college, said the demolition will take months to complete.

“The estimated completion of demolition is September 2024,” Augustus said, in an email to the Baltimore Business Journal.

Asked what the future plans for the site are, Augustus said it was uncertain, writing only that “green space landscape” would be added to the site.

BCCC, the Cordish Cos. and top state officials have clashed for years about the future of the site that is on a high-profile corner downtown next to Cordish’s Power Plant Live entertainment complex and the Baltimore Holocaust Memorial.

Two sets of plans by the casino and entertainment developer to acquire the Bard property and build a mixed-use tower there were nixed by college. BCCC had first awarded Cordish exclusive development rights in 2010, but the deal collapsed in 2012 in a dispute over costs and a potential relocation of the Holocaust memorial next door.

A second attempt in 2017 by Cordish to redevelop the site was also rejected by BCCC after Cordish had spearheaded the design of a modern, mixed-use tower by local architecture firm Hord Coplan Macht.

Last year, the state’s spending board, the Board of Public Works, approved a $4.2 million contract with the Berg Corp. to raze the structure at 600 E. Lombard St. that is owned by BCCC. The project is already causing major traffic delays along the busy Lombard Street corridor downtown.

A rendering of the rejected plan for a glass tower by the Cordish Cos. to replace the Baltimore City Community College’s Bard Building at 600 E. Lombard St.

More recently, Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson said last year that a new academic building there is not financially viable even though BCCC President Debra McCurdy said she would push for a replacement to keep the college’s presence downtown. BCCC’s main campus is at 2901 Liberty Heights Ave.

The nearly 173,000-square-foot Bard Building has been vacant for years and has been fenced off since 2020 when fires were started by homeless encampments inside the vacant shell.

The building first opened in 1976 as a downtown campus for the two-year college, but shut down at least a decade ago. BCCC has experienced declines in its enrollment for years with full-time students dropping by 46% between 2010 and 2019, U.S. Department of Education data shows.”

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