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Rehab/Renovation : Development News

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Hopkins Press Wraps Up $4.2M Renovation

The 114-year-old building that houses the Johns Hopkins University Press has a modern new look after a $4.1 million, two-year renovation.

The changes include new art and book displays, modern glass doors, a public space to hold author events, and infrastructure upgrades. Jack Holmes, director of development for JHU Press, says the building renovation gives the historic building a modern touch.

"It's a mix of old and new. It's just cool to see that."

Many of the office doors were replaced with frameless, frosted glass.

The 27,000-square-foot building, which dates to 1897, is a former church that went through a complete overhaul when the press moved in 1993.

The renovations also include an upgrade to its IT system and HVAC.

"There was a practical need to refresh the office after 15 years," Holmes says.   

Press officials also wanted to use the renovation as an opportunity to better display its work with modern shelves holding books it has published.

Billed as the nation's oldest university press, JHU Press publishes 60 scholarly journals and nearly 200 new books every year. Baltimore's Read & Co. Architects, which has spearheaded more than two-dozen Johns Hopkins projects, designed the renovation. Baltimore's Plano-Coudon LLC served as the general contractor.

Writer:Julekha Dash
Sources: Jack Holmes, JHU Press; Read & Co. Architects

$9M Museum Honoring Black Athletes to Open in Druid Heights

Baltimore will get a new museum devoted to black athletes in the Northwest section of the city that officials hope will jumpstart the area's revitalization.

The Druid Heights Community Development Corp. is building the Negro Baseball Museum and Restaurant at 2101-11 Pennsylvania Ave., the site of the former jazz club that hosted legendary performers Billie Holiday and John Coltrane. The group hopes the museum will bring jobs and visitors to the neglected area.

The CDC will put out a bid in June for a construction firm and expects to begin building the museum later in the summer, says Roscoe Johnson, Druid Heights' director of real estate development. The Black Athletes and Lost Legends Association, a Baltimore nonprofit, will operate the museum and an adjacent caf�.

"Hopefully it will attract other businesses to the area," Johnson says. "It's very important that we do this right and it looks good."

Funding for the $9 million museum comes from the state, State Farm Insurance Cos., federal New Market Tax Credits, and foundations.
Baltimore's urban design panel gave final approval for the museum April 14. Druid Heights won the right to develop the project after the Baltimore Development Corp. sought out proposals to redevelop the former Sphinx Club.

The 14,000-square-foot museum and Negro League Caf� will create as many as 85 jobs, Johnson says.

The museum will focus on black athletes from Baltimore in a variety of sports, including boxing, football, basketball and baseball. It will also highlight black athletes who comprised the Negro League, the black baseball players who had their separate teams before the sport was integrated.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Roscoe Johnson, Druid Heights Community Development Corp.

Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts Tunes Into Renovation

The Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts is looking to spruce up its aging performance space in Annapolis.

The theater and auditorium, which date to 1932, will get new seating and carpeting and upgraded acoustics as part of the multiyear plan, says Donna Anderson, the nonprofit's vice president of external affairs.

Details, such as the cost of the facelift and completion date, are still being worked out. The arts organization is still in negotiations with an architecture firm to handle the job.

The renovations would include the 850-seat theater and another room beneath it that holds classes, recitals, meetings, and post-theater receptions. As a former high school gymnasium, the room has its limitations, Anderson says.

Leaders at the arts organization want to spruce up that space and add a loading dock to the theater wing.

The Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts is home to four resident companies -- Annapolis Chorale, Annapolis Opera, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Ballet Theatre of Maryland. The nonprofit also holds an artist-in-residence program and art, music and dance classes.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Donna Anderson, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts

Greater Baltimore Medical Center Embarking on $1M Renovation

Greater Baltimore Medical Center is undergoing a $1 million renovation that includes enhancements to its lobby, gift shop, waiting areas, and corridors.

The GBMC renovations come as other Greater Baltimore hospitals add new wings and get facelifts to get new patients. These include a new pediatric clinic at Sinai Hospital and new operating rooms at Baltimore Washington Medical Center.

"Patients like to see modern architecture and modern facilities," says Michael A. Forthman, vice president of facilities and support services at GBMC.

The Towson hospital has hired Towson architecture firm Rubeling Inc. to design the new look. Renovations and additions account for about two-thirds of the workload for the company. It has performed work on behalf of Randallstown Community Center, Hockessin Athletic Club and Wellness Center, and Glenelg Country School.

Prosys Inc., of White Marsh, is the project manager for the renovations. The lobby and gift shop makeover will be completed in three months.

The lobby renovation involves flipping the location of the information desk with that of the radiology waiting space. After the renovation, the information desk will be directly across from the main entrance and will feature welcome signage, a decorative metal canopy, and accent lighting.  

Privacy screens will surround the radiology waiting area and heightened ceilings will hopefully open up the space.

The hospital chose ceramic tile for the floors, which can last 20 years, Forthman says.

"It's definitely a concern of ours to use good products with a long life cycle."

Another set of renovations will begin at the hospital in July. This time, the 285-bed hospital will redo the cafeteria and a unit of its nuclear medicine department. Forthman says he is not sure yet how much these renovations will cost, but it will probably be less than the first phase.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Michael A. Forthman, GBMC

Baltimore Museum of Art to Issue RFP for $24M Renovation

The Baltimore Museum of Art is now one step closer to beginning its $24 million capital renovation, the largest in its history.

The museum has narrowed its list of potential architectural firms for the project to five, spokesman Anne Mannix says. The museum received 11 requests for qualifications. It will now issue a request for proposal for the five firms, who will submit bids by early March.

After interviewing the firms and getting cost proposals, the BMA will select a firm by early May.

The firms on the shortlist are Ayers Saint Gross, Design Collective, Inc., GWWO, Inc./Architects, RTKL Associates Inc. and Ziger/Snead Architects LLP. All are based in Baltimore. Last month, the BMA appointed an architect selection committee comprised of Trustees and voted unanimously to award the project to an architect headquartered in Maryland.

The three-year capital renovation will enhance the galleries holding contemporary, American, and African art. It will also involve major infrastructure improvements, including two new roofs. Visitors will see the changes with an upgraded entrance, a new BMA shop, welcome desk, and coat check room.

The project will be funded in part by a $10 million multiyear commitment from the state and $2.5 million in bonds from Baltimore City.

Writer:Julekha Dash
Source: Anne Mannix, BMA

Wanted: Architect for Museum's African and American Collections

The Baltimore Museum of Art is looking for an architect to redesign its African and American art galleries as part of a $24 million, three-year renovation.

The museum issued a request for qualifications for architectural firms who want to be considered for the project. The BMA will select the winning proposal in April.

The selected firm will work with two different architectural styles. The work will include renovating the lobby, built in 1982, and the American wing, designed by John Russell Pope in 1929, BMA spokeswoman Anne Mannix says.

"I think I will be an interesting challenge."

 The renovation will also involve:
• Installing better lighting;
• Upgrading the visitor entrance, BMA shop, welcome desk, and coat check room;
• Revamping the work spaces and improving access to storage areas; and,
• Replacing the building automation system and other infrastructure improvements.

The BMA's $24 million capital renovation will be completed in 2014, the museum's 100th anniversary. It is the largest renovation in the museum's history.

Museum leaders will choose between four to six firms by late January for its shortlist. Technical proposals will be due in late February and interviews with finalists will be conducted in March.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Anne Mannix, Baltimore Museum of Art

Baltimore Museum of Art Upgrading Contemporary Wing as Part of $24 Million Renovation

The Baltimore Museum of Art will close its contemporary wing Jan. 16 to prepare for its three-year, $24 million capital renovation.

Fans of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and other modern artists will have to wait until spring 2012 to see the masterpieces again.

When it reopens, the West Wing for Contemporary Art will include a greater variety of media, from prints and photography to video.

The contemporary wing's rotunda will host exhibitions from an artist commissioned by the museum, BMA spokeswoman Anne Mannix says. A black box media gallery will showcase film, video, and digital art. Contemporary prints, drawings, and photos will be displayed in a dedicated gallery.

Baltimore's Marshall Craft Associates will complete the renovations to the contemporary wing. New York's Renfro Design Group, which has worked for the Morgan Library & Museum in New York and Grand Central Station Terminal, is designing the new lighting system.

The BMA's capital renovation will be completed in 2014, the museum's 100th anniversary. The renovation will include upgrades to visitor amenities, infrastructure improvements, and better displays of the museum's 90,000 works of art.

The project will be funded in part by a $10 million multi-year commitment from the state and $2.5 million in bonds from Baltimore City.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Anne Mannix, Baltimore Museum of Art

Anne Arundel Community College plots $21M library expansion

Anne Arundel Community College will begin a $21 million renovation and expansion of its outdated library next spring in an effort to modernize its campus.

The project will add 31,000 square feet to the building, which is currently 44,000 square feet. The new space will house a computer lab, tutoring services and a reading department.

The expansion will begin April 2011 and will be completed in 2012 or 2013. Funding for the project comes from the state and Anne Arundel County.

School officials want to upgrade the building, which dates back to 1968, so that it includes the technology and collaborative learning spaces that other college libraries have nowadays, says Anne Arundel Community College Library Director, Cynthia Steinhoff.

"The building was designed for a much smaller student population and we are very crowded," Steinhoff says.

Like many other community colleges, the Arnold campus enrollment continues to rise as more people head back to school to gain skills that could help them land jobs. So far 15,877 students have signed up for the fall school year. That's about 5 percent more than the number it had last year, spokeswoman Susan Gross says.

The college has hired two architectural firms, Ewing Cole, in Philadelphia and D.C., and Woollen Molzan and Partners Inc., of Indianapolis, to design the building.

"The building will be more attractive and look much more contemporary," Steinhoff says. School officials think of the library, at 101 College Pkwy., as the "heart of the college."

"We are thinking of the new structure as the jewel of the campus."

School officials like the campus' location because it is centrally located for county residents.

"It's an easy location to get to," Steinhoff says.

Sources: Cynthia Steinhoff, Susan Gross, Anne Arundel Community College
Writer: Julekha Dash

Padonia Village Shopping Center gets $600K makeover

The owners of Padonia Village Shopping Center have spent $600,000 with the aim of attracting new tenants and keeping existing ones.

Located at the intersection of York and Padonia Roads, the 110,000 square foot shopping center contains 24 office and retail tenants, including Mars Supermarket, Rite-Aid and Padonia Station Bar & Grille.

The improvements include new sidewalks with stamped concrete, fa�ade upgrades, new signs, lighting and paint. Two new rain gardens  featuring black-eyed susans and ornamental grasses were installed. The center also features new benches, bicycle racks and recycling bins.

Owner Continental Realty Corp. hopes the makeover will help it attract two new restaurant tenants, says David Donato, vice president of Continental Realty's commercial division. The two vacant spots face the courtyard and total nearly 5,000 square feet.

The owners are actively seeking Mexican, seafood and Asian restaurants to complement the center's existing food offerings, which include sushi and pizza.

"We want to keep the center fresh for existing tenants and catch the attention of new ones," Donato says. "We'd love to see some restaurants now that we have outdoor seating."

Continental Realty also wanted to keep up with newer shopping centers in the area and older ones that that have undergone extensive renovations. These include Timonium Square Shopping Center, across from the Timonium Fairgrounds. Owner Kimco Realty Corp. renovated the fa�ade, and installed new signs and canopies last year.

"A lot of York Road is fresher and newer looking," Donato says.

Donato describes the Timonium area as a "retail mecca," with huge traffic counts, population density and income.

More than 56,000 consumers reside within a three-mile radius of Padonia Village with an average household income of more than $93,000. More than 40,000 vehicles pass the project on a daily basis along York Road, according to the state's transportation department.

Continental Realty hired Holland Construction Co. as the general contractor and Arium Inc. as the architect. Davey Commercial Grounds Management handled landscape design.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: David Donato, Continental Realty

MICA plots new community arts building at EBDI

The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is opening a community arts center in East Baltimore that will expand its graduate programs and hopefully boost its relationship with the community.

The school is spending $1.2 million to renovate the 24,000-square-foot building at 814 N. Collington Avenue, funding for which came from the Rouse Co. Foundation, the Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation and an anonymous trustee. MICA expects the center, the former St. Wenceslaus School, to open mid-September.

Called MICA Place, the space will host graduate courses in community arts and social design and community meetings. It will also contain art studios, a computer laboratory, exhibition space and graduate apartments.

The center will allow students to use their art in a way that engages the community, says Ray Allen vice president of academic affairs and provost.

For instance, students pursuing a Master's in Community Arts might work with youth in East Baltimore to learn photography and use the art as a medium for reflecting on the issues facing the neighborhood, Allen says.

"I had it in my head that art and design could be put at the service of increasing the quality of life in the community," Allen says. "We can engage the community is a much richer way."

MICA has had a stake in East Baltimore for a decade, as part of a collaboration called the MICA/JHU Design coalition. Johns Hopkins University researchers tap the design expertise of MICA students to create graphics to deliver public health messages.

MICA is leasing the building from nonprofit East Baltimore Development Inc., the nonprofit that oversees the massive biotechnology park and residential development near Johns Hopkins Hospital.

"It's a wonderful building in East Baltimore," Allen says. "It will be a great place where people in the community can brought in."

Having a physical presence in the community will give MICA visibility and credibility, Allen hopes.

"This will give us community trust, that we're not some elitist outside organization visiting," he says.  "At the end of the day, education is our mission. Art is our vehicle for doing it."

Read more of Bmore's education coverage.

Source: Ray Allen, Maryland Institute College of Art
Writer: Julekha Dash

Ol�: Gordito's serves up Mexican cuisine and culture in downtown Charles Street spot

Charles Street's restaurant offerings will soon include fish tacos and one-and-a-half-pound burritos. Ken Diaz will open Gordito's Caf� at 336 N. Charles Street, replacing Milton's Grill, by October. A former restaurant consultant who has worked for Edo Sushi, Mari Luna Mexican Grill and Lebanese Taverna, Diaz is spending $250,000 of his own money to start the 85-seat eatery.

Gordito's offerings will include traditional Mexican dishes, including a gordita, a corn cake stuffed with meat, and a torta, a sandwich with thinly sliced steak or chicken. Flour and corn tortillas will be homemade.

Smaller items will cost between $6 and $10 while the king-size burrito that can feed two will cost $14.  Lunch and dinner entrees will average around $15.

Authentic Mexican drinks will be on the menu as well at the 2,500-square-foot restaurant. Those include Mexican Bloody Marys, a Mexican black and tan (beer and brand) and, of course, margaritas.

Using the tagline cocina, cultura, historia for his new concept, Diaz wants to give diners a taste of Mexican culture and history and not just its flavorful spices. Gordito's will feature Mexican bingo and Mariachi bands every week and display photos of Aztec warriors and cinema stars.

Though some restaurants are struggling now in a down economy, Diaz isn't worried. With no other Mexican restaurants in the downtown area, he has little competition and hopes that if you offer good food and service at a reasonable price, the people will come.

In fact, if things go well, Diaz hopes to open five to seven additional locations in Greater Baltimore within a few years.
Diaz chose the Downtown area because he admired the neighborhood's eclectic mix of people and historic architecture. His own building includes an entire wall with exposed brick.

"I fell in love with the space," he says.

To read more about downtown, go here.

Source: Ken Diaz, Gordito's
Writer: Julekha Dash

Former Fletcher's owner reopens venue as nightclub the Get Down

What does the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing have in common with a new lounge in Fells Point called the Get Down? Both relied on Baltimore lighting designer Scott Chmielewski for illumination.

Bryan Burkert opened the Get Down at 701 S. Bond St. this month in the spot that once held Fletcher's. Burkert, who also owns Fells Point music shop the Sound Garden, gutted out the former space to open the 6,000-square-foot nightclub.

The LED lighting is a key component of the Get Down's design, Burkert says. "Everything glows and illuminates everything all of the time," he says. "I wanted a funky, cool place."

Burkert will rely on DJs from Washington, D.C., to play funk and soul music. But the biggest challenge will be to reach the right audience for the club. "Our fear is that we'd be pegged as the hottest new club which is not what we are trying to be," he says.

Wait, he doesn't want to be called the hottest new club?

His fear is that with a moniker like that, party-goers will assume that the Get Down plays all pop or all hip hop, as is the case at other nightclubs. Burkert wants to reach a more diverse, wider spectrum of the city.

Burkert sold Fletcher's two years ago, then bought it back. But he didn't feel like opening it as Fletcher's. So he remade the space into a venue where he can hold parties, feature live music or DJs.

The business owner says he likes the area for its mix of eclectic, independent restaurants and retail shops.

The club is open seven nights a week, from 7 p.m. until 2 a.m.

Source: Bryan Burkert, the Get Down
Writer: Julekha Dash

Chesapeake Cycle wheels onto Bel Air's Main Street

Three months after opening in downtown Bel Air, Ed Sheet already has his eye on an expansion.

Sheet, the owner of Chesapeake Cycle & Sport, hopes to move into a 2,500-square-foot store within two years. His current store in Bel Air is 1,100 square feet.

It's the second bike store for Sheet, who opened his Havre de Grace location in 2008. The expansion to Bel Air was intended to make it more convenient for customers who live in Fallston or Forest Hill who don't want to make the trek to Havre de Grace.

The two stores will pull in $1 million in sales this year, he says.

Sheet chose the spot at 116 S. Main Street because it is close to another sports shop, Charm City Run. Owners of the two shops can rely on one another's mailing lists and host joint promotional events. He's also excited about the Main Street revitalization efforts. 

The inventory focuses mainly on road bikes and triathlon bikes, with 30 to 40 bikes in stock at any one time. After he moves into a bigger store, Sheet hopes to house more than 200 bikes, including hybrid, cruiser and kids' cycles, like his Havre de Grace. He also hopes to house more accessories, apparel, and a larger service department.

"Bike service is important to the reputation and longevity of the store," Sheet says.

The business owners says he preferred to open in the 208-year-old historic building over a strip mall because the rent is about one-third the price and the property includes historic details like wood floors and a tin ceiling.

Because he also owns a property management company, Sheet's spent just $2,500 to rehab the space.

Source: Ed Sheet, Chesapeake Cycle & Sport
Writer: Julekha Dash

Westminster Main Street Program lands design award for Downtown

Westminster Main Street Program has received a state design award that economic development officials hope will help it attract more businesses to the downtown area.

The city received the 2010 Main Street Maryland Excellence Award for Design for fixing up its commercial and residential buildings and implementing a $2 million fa�ade improvement program.

The state Main Street awards recognize projects that improve the appearance and economy of historic downtown business districts. Awards are given for design, economic restructuring, promotion and organization. A fifth award is granted for Main Streets that are clean, safe and green. Westminster netted an award for organizational excellence two years ago.

"It shows that our programs are working and we're getting recognition from the outside," says Stan Ruchlewicz, administrator of the Westminster Office of Economic Development and Main Street program manager, of the award. "Our goal is to get all five awards."

Westminster is one of 23 commercial districts that the state has designated as a Main Street community.

Downtown Westminster counts about 300 businesses, including 75 retailers and 24 restaurants. The area has been gaining 10 to 15 businesses per year in the last nine years, Ruchlewicz says.

The design award will hopefully encourage more businesses to take advantage of the Main Street Program. Entrepreneurs can receive up to $20,000 in fa�ade improvement grants if they maintain their business for five years.

"We're hoping that will give us more businesses," Ruchlewicz says of the awards. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Stan Ruchlewicz

City signs deal on Fells Point Rec Pier rehab

Baltimore City officials closed a deal on March 10, with Recreation Pier Developers, LLC, for the sale of the Fells Point Recreation Pier. The deal marks a significant step in the Fells Point Recreation Pier redevelopment project. The transaction will require pier restoration, which is expected to be an $8.8 million dollar expense. 

When complete, the site will house a 132-room Aloft-brand hotel with a second floor restaurant. The entire project will be valued in excess of $35 million and will ultimately increase the tax base of the City through sales tax, room tax, and real and personal tax revenue. The project will also create a new job base for the City.

"The closing of the sales transaction marks the beginning of the Fells Point Recreation Pier redevelopment project," says Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "The restoration of this historic pier will stimulate the development of new businesses that will greatly enrich the community."

The next step is for Moran Towing Corporation, the sole remaining pier tenant, to relocate to its new facility on S. Clinton Street in Canton. The move is expected to occur by May 2010, allowing Recreational Pier Developers, LLC, to begin restoration of the site.

Built in 1914, the Fells Point Recreation Pier was once used for social and educational gatherings. A ballroom on the second floor of the Head House was used for weddings and dances, as well as for basketball and soccer games. More recently, the site has been used as a
filming location for the television series "Homicide: Life on the Streets" and two movies, including "Step Up." As part of the pier restoration, the developers will replace many of the piles that are sinking into the water. The project will receive federal and state historic tax credits from the U.S. National Park Service and the Maryland Historical Trust.

"Baltimore Housing recognizes the unique character of Recreation Pier and its historic significance to Fells Point, Baltimore City and the State of Maryland," says Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano. "We have been working for years to identify a viable and appropriate reuse for this legendary landmark. With the recent closing of the sales transaction with the developers, I am pleased that we can now move forward with the project."

Source: Housing Authority of Baltimore City
Writer: Walaika Haskins
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