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Greater Annapolis Patch: Top Amenities at Mariner Bay

September 21, 2010

Take a glance upward from the main traffic circle at Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole to the top of the Mariner Bay apartment building. There are actually trees up there — not just large potted plants. Those are bona fide trees in the rooftop gardens of Mariner Bay.

Lauren McDonald, manager of corporate communications for Mariner Bay, says that the plant beds contain 5 feet of soil that absorbs rainwater and lessens runoff. Although the plantings do not qualify for a "green-roof" designation, they help minimize the environmental impact of the building and make the rooftop a more pleasant and inviting place.

Mariner Bay is a joint venture of the Bozzuto Group with Greenberg Gibbons Commercial and Prudential. The Bozzuto Group specializes in urban infill development projects and creates walkable and vibrant communities. The Mariner Bay site, formerly part of Parole Plaza, sat abandoned for years waiting to be transformed into a new and sustainable neighborhood.

Reflecting his passion for such projects, Tom Bozzuto, the CEO of the Bozzuto Group, won the Urban Land Institute's (ULI) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 for achievements in real estate and dedication to community. He's also slated to win the ULI Baltimore Wavemaker Award at the end of September — an award that honors visionaries in urban development.

Greenburg Gibbons received a Phoenix Award for cleaning up the Parole site, which was a designated brownfield since it was contaminated by the dry cleaning store that once operated on the site.

The developers' commitment to creating a dynamic community also appears in the strong relationship between the retail merchants and the Mariner Bay residents. Community events include a farmers market and a summer concert series. The deliberate building layout promotes socializing among residents, and the stores in the Towne Centre provide basic necessities so that residents don't need to drive anywhere.

"We really pride ourselves on the community feel," says Scott Hamlin, property manager for Mariner Bay. "During last winter's storm, the Towne Centre functioned like normal. We had a potluck dinner for residents and played Rummy for 3 hours. This was a gorgeous place to be cooped up."

Back up on the top floor at Mariner Bay, the trees are only one of many features that make the rooftop of this apartment building unique. Amenities that often get shoved into the lower level of residential buildings receive prominent billing here on the Clubhouse Level. The bikes in the fitness center look out at spectacular sunsets. Lounging areas are optimally placed for great views of the Blue Angels' aerial maneuvers and fireworks displays over downtown Annapolis. The community space, wine-tasting room, and business center offer expanded living, entertaining, and working areas for residents.

"Give it another month, when the leaves start changing," says Hamlin of the view from 11 stories up. "It will be absolutely gorgeous."

Clearly visible, off in the distance to the east, is the Bay Bridge. Just south of the bridge, the state capital punctures the skyline along with the spires of St. Anne's and St. Mary's churches. Even the faint shoreline of the Eastern Shore appears on clear days. In the opposite direction, views of the mall and Anne Arundel Medical Center appear, with the buildings swathed in more vegetation than you might think from ground observation.

The view is just one thing that ties the apartment community with all of Annapolis. The community is a varied and spirited mix, a lot like Annapolis itself.

"We get a lot of Naval Academy family and friends who rent apartments to live in part time or to retire," says Hamlin. "You get the big city feel, but still the Annapolis charm."