The General Electric (GE) Apparatus Service Center did not support private consumers in maintaining their individual household appliances. Rather, this service center maintained large electrical transformers, electrical motors, and turbine engines which helped supply electrical energy to the city and surrounding area. From 1946-1993, these huge pieces of equipment arrived and departed the Service Center by rail.
Maintenance of this kind of equipment required all manner of industrial substances. Beginning in 1988, poor internal regulation of substance disposal caught up with the facility when a soil test confirmed polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)—a group of highly toxic carcinogens—in the surrounding soil. For the next 23 years various environmental cleanups have removed PCBs, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chlorinated solvents, petroleum, and various toxic metals from contaminated soil and groundwater.
The original Service Center was demolished between 2002 and 2003. Three underground storage tanks of petroleum substances were removed in 2007, likely remnants from a historic gas station which occupied part of the lot during the 1950s and 1960s. GE Power Systems submitted an official Voluntary Cleanup Program application to the Maryland Department of the Environment in 2003, indicating their intention to eventually sell the land for residential development.
The land was held off the market for just under a decade for environmental cleanup until GE sold it to Solstice Partners in 2012. Solstice Partners, a development company, partnered with The Bozzuto Group and War Horse Cities to build Anthem House, a “healthy-lifestyle, luxury residential community” on the corner of E. Fort Avenue and Lawrence Street. Scott Plank, brother of Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, launched War Horse Cities in 2010. The $100 million development, which opened in 2017, includes 292 rental units as well as 20,000 square feet of street-level shops and restaurants.
GE continues to have an impact on Maryland industries. In 2017, the subsidiary GE Healthcare closed a plant in Laurel which manufactured “incubators and warmers for hospital neonatal intensive care units.” GE Aviation owned Middle River Aircraft Systems (MRAS) in Middle River until early 2019 when it was sold to ST Engineering, a Singapore-based aerospace conglomerate. MRAS has pioneered many innovations in airplane engine nacelle and thrust reverse systems.
As buildings are used and reused, remnants of a building’s former life sometimes appear. Those industrial legacies are baked into the character of a place. How do you feel that the transition from industrial to residential has changed the character of Locust Point?