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Spring '14 Capstone Competition 1st Prize Winner

Rameez Munawar

The Commerce Exchange Building is a century-old structure in the heart of Downtown Baltimore on Commerce Street. It was built in 1906 just after The Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 and is part of a historic district characterized by heavily ornamented classical and art deco facades. Many buildings in the district were built between 1900 and1925. They illustrate the economic and physical growth Baltimore experienced in the early 20th century.


However, the changing nature of real estate development combined with structural and financial constraints has led to a decline in the building’s market competitiveness. The building is currently being leased by Stratford University, but is sparsely occupied. Prior attempts to sell the property at various prices have not been successful, because its true value hasn’t been established. This project determines an accurate acquisition basis for the property as a repositioned asset. The repositioning strategy includes market research, proposed uses, project build out, floor plans, information from comparable properties and financial information. 


An in-depth analysis reveals that the property is suitable for mixed-use including office, retail, and residential rental uses due to its attractive location, ability to achieve competitive rents, and loaded amenity package. The basement has primarily amenities meant for building residents and includes a theater, fitness center and lounge. The first floor contains two retail units along with seven residential units and a community room. The community room is meant for small-scale events and can be reserved by people outside the building. Floors two through four contain 13 residential units each. 


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