Gary Ball – Madison Marquette
- Written by: David Harry
- Produced by: Andrew Wright & Gavin O'Connor
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Imagine needing an act of Congress to move forward on a massive mixed-use construction project.
The partnership of Madison Marquette and Hoffman & Associates Inc. needed three to begin construction on The Wharf, a mixed-use project extending along 27 acres of the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., says Gary Ball.
The partners also had to coordinate with the Federal Aviation Administration because construction required using cranes on barges that were in the flight path of Pentagon-bound helicopters.
Though Madison Marquette and Ball, currently the senior vice president and senior director of construction, didn’t need Congressional approval to redevelop a city block in Baltimore near its’ Inner Harbor, they faced unique challenges. The One Light Street project, with 28 stories combining commercial office space and luxury residences, required closing Light Street for several days to accommodate cranes building the high-rise.
Those projects aren’t really all in a day’s work for Ball, but he’s made a career of pulling architects, contractors—and politicians—together to move forward on some very big projects.
“We’re really helping change the face of Washington D.C. and Baltimore,” Ball says. “These projects, especially The Wharf, will stand the test of time and have brought positive and impactful changes to the commercial and residential environment.”
On the waterfront
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., Madison Marquette was founded in the early 1980s as Madison Realty Partnership with Capital Guidance as an equity partner. The company became Madison Marquette following the 1995 acquisition of Marquette Partners.
More recently, the company has merged with PMRG and The Roseview Group to expand the real estate portfolio, management and investment services it offers across the U.S.
Ball was a senior construction manager at then-P.N. Hoffman when he began working on The Wharf in 2013. The project was stalled for lack of financing then, but its scope offered a dramatic change for the area between the Washington Channel and Maine Avenue.
“You had no feel for being on the water,” Ball recalls, although the site was home to the oldest continuously operating fish market in the U.S.
With permits and Congressional approval obtained to build piers and boat slips 450 feet out in the channel, as well as building on land owned by the U.S. National Park Service, the first phase of the project began in spring 2014.
Hoffman was the lead developer and Madison Marquette managed the retail and interior construction as well as the overall construction schedule, and in January 2016, Ball joined Madison Marquette. The project included architects Perkins Eastman leading master planning for land development and Moffit Nichol as marine architects. Contractors included Clark, Balfour Beatty, DPR and Donohoe on land and Cianbro for marine work.
In October 2017, the first construction phase was finished with three residential buildings and three hotels with more than 600 rooms combined. Also opening were two Class-A office buildings, a 1,500-space parking garage, a 98-slip yacht club, two public space use piers, a 6,000-person music venue and two parks.
As it opened, the development partners were preparing to break ground for phase two. The seven additional buildings, which include offices, a hotel, luxury condominiums, stores, restaurants and another marina, were largely completed late in 2022.
“Completing The Wharf is as impactful as building Nationals Park and the Capitol One Arena,” says Ball of the redevelopment that’s also within walking distance of The Mall, the Washington Monument and area memorials.
Charm City construction
As The Wharf project progressed, Ball was also tasked with moving the One Light Street project forward about 40 miles to the north in Baltimore.
Early in 2016, with M&T Bank committed to leasing six stories of the 28-story tower, Ball engaged AECOM Architects and Donohoe Construction as the general contractor to begin construction. They were working with a tight schedule as M&T was scheduled to move in mid-2018.
Built into a city block bounded by Light, East Baltimore, Redwood and Grant streets, One Light Street is capped by 280 luxury apartments featuring views of the city and Inner Harbor. The ground floor has retail space and there are nine levels of parking with two below ground. The building is within minutes of Inner Harbor restaurants, shopping, the Baltimore Metro and Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
One Light Street was also awarded silver certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, by the U.S. Green Building Council for its energy and water efficiency, bike racks and electric vehicle charging stations.
“One Light Street was a welcome addition to downtown Baltimore bringing a world class designed tower that offered true mixed use as both an office building and multi-family residential space ,” Ball says.
Big Sky to big city
Though Ball has been working in the Washington, D.C., area for almost 40 years, he’s actually from the Big Sky Country in Montana. He initially studied chemical engineering at Montana State University-Bozeman but when he found he enjoyed working outdoors more than in a lab, he shifted his major to construction engineering. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1979 while serving in the ROTC.
Ball then served six years in the Army, including at Fort Belvoir just outside Washington, D.C., and then stayed in the area after his honorable discharge and joined James G. Davis Construction in 1985. He had risen to become vice president, then joined Turner Construction Corp. as project executive in 2009.
“Turner Construction filled in the blanks for me for working on mega-projects,” Ball says.
He’s now working on advanced planning for Madison Marquette’s redevelopment of the former Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C. into an 80-acre mixed-use campus with residential, office and retail space. He expects construction to begin in 2025.
“It seems like I’ve worked with a cast of thousands over the years. One common trait is they care deeply about what’s being designed and built and have the best interests of the city at heart,” Ball says. “Our work is a passion and not just a money-making venture.”
View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. V 2023 Edition here.
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