USA. Baltimore�s Ropewalk Village blends maritime tradition with new construction technology

Wednesday, 12 July 2006

A developer with a penchant for preserving the past and inventing a better future is creating a new town home community in Baltimore City that may well revolutionize how urban homes are built here. Y&M Development, a multi-national commercial and residential development corporation with operations in Canada, Africa, and the United States, just broke ground on Ropewalk Village at Fell's Point. A short walk away from the Fell's Point Waterfront, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Patterson Park and Canton, this 17-unit town home community is set on the grounds of a once-thriving 19th- century rope manufacturing operation.

While outward appearances reflect the "historic charm and look of the famous Baltimore row homes of the '40s, it's the engineering that makes it a breed apart." says Yonah Zahler, the "Y" in Y&M Development. Ropewalk Village will be Baltimore's first light-steel framed development using Genesis(R), a world-leading light-steel building technology and advanced technological breakthrough building solution and the first time a developer has used this type of construction in a U.S. residential project, other than test homes.

Currently used to build residential and commercial structures throughout the world, Genesis features structural-grade, galvanized steel framing materials in lieu of traditional softwood lumber, concrete or masonry block construction. Genesis(R) framing complies with commercial building code standards, which exceed residential code minimums. This requirement results in a stronger, fully engineered structure, that's more durable and offers several unique benefits to the homeowner, with safety and energy efficiency heading the list.

The steel is 100% fire resistant, a huge plus for city residents living in close proximity. Homes are better able to withstand hurricanes, seismic forces and heavy snows. Problems with termites, mold, settling, shrinkage and the resulting 'nail pops' are virtually eliminated.

Y&M tapped Baltimore-based Ashley Custom Homes as construction manager for Ropewalk Village based on the local company's reputation for consistently delivering high-quality homes on schedule, within cost parameters and sharing a similar sense of style, attention to detail and innovation.

According to E. Neil Tabor, president of Ashley Custom Homes, "Attention to historic detail is important here. The bricks we're using fit the color and profile of the ones predominant in the construction of Fell's Point homes of five decades ago. This is deliberate. We want to create a town home village that looks and feels as if it's always been here, not something 'brand new' that just sprung up in the midst of existing structures that looks entirely out-of-place."

"Y&M took the time and energy to consult with people from the neighborhood on what they'd like to see. They conveyed that information to the architect, Architecture & Urban Views, who did a great job of translating those ideas into a town home series that's in keeping with the style of the area and era. Even the name - Ropewalk Village - acknowledges the past and serves as a reminder of Baltimore's rich seafaring history."

Ropewalk Village is just south of Pratt Street, bordered by the 100 block of Regester Street and Narroway Street. The townhomes offer four levels of living with a roof-top deck and have interior floor plans to match today's lifestyles. Closet space - almost non-existent in yesteryears - is plentiful in these homes. A whole floor is dedicated to a master bedroom suite with ample storage and a luxurious master bath.

Parking - a big deal in the city - is ample, with a two-car garage in each home as well as outside space for additional parking. Residents park on ground level and walk into a foyer with handsome, 12- inch ceramic tiles. The second levels feature a living room, dining room, kitchen and deck. Nine-foot ceilings give a spaciousness and depth to these homes, which feature first-class appliances, including Stuart kitchens with granite countertops; stainless steel appliances; gas stoves favored by gourmet cooks; and built-in refrigerators.

Residents getting in on the ground floor of this project may elect to have fireplaces as well as elevators, an incentive for signing contracts early. With Ashley assigned to the project, other custom touches are also possible. The third floor offers another level of living, with two bedrooms and bath. A master bedroom suite and super bath dominate the fourth floor which leads up to a rooftop-deck offering panoramic views of Upper Fell's Point and the waterfront.

A sales center just opened on the property, headed by RE/MAX Sails, the Willner Chrissomallis Group, which is headquartered in the new Natty Boh building in Canton. A product demonstration and tour for homebuilding professionals is scheduled for later this month. Representatives from Y&M, Ashley Custom Homes and Genesis(R) will be on site to provide further information about the innovative use of the light-steel framing and design utilized in this exciting pilot project.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 12 July 2006 )