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Federal Hill's Charm City Yoga is moving to a bigger studio

For those whose New Year’s resolution is to be more active, Charm City Yoga’s Federal Hill location will soon be offering that chance to more area residents when it moves to a larger space mid-February.
The studio, one of the growing company’s seven in the greater Baltimore area, will occupy 4,000 square feet at 1024 Light St. It will also house a boutique that will sell apparel by Under Armour, the official outfitter of Charm City Yoga. 

The new spot will include two studios, one of which will be heated for hot yoga. It will also include larger bathrooms areas, a changing room and lockers, and showers, which the current facility lacks. 
Charm City Yoga Director of Operations Allison Korycki says it was time for a bigger space as its current location at 37 E. Cross St., was less visible from the street and could barely fit 25 people in its studio. With the larger space, Charm City Yoga hopes to cater to Baltimore residents who have never done yoga before, as well as those who are looking for more space in which to practice.
Through its expansion, Korycki says that Charm City Yoga’s goal is to bring nationally known yoga teachers to Baltimore to host workshops.
But Korycki says that the yoga studio’s biggest goal is to continue to grow.
“We hope to attract lots of new customers,” Korycki says. “This [studio] is in a prominent location on Light Street so we’re hoping that people just walking by or driving by are going to see it more easily.”
Korycki says Charm City Yoga is excited it is able to stay in Federal Hill.
“We love that there’s a young, vibrant people down there and it’s a very happening place and it’s a very active community,” she says.
The studio will offer an expanded class schedule with classes that start as early as 6:30 a.m. and as late as 8:30 p.m.

Writer: Daryl Hale
Source: Allison Korycki, Charm City Yoga

Red Emma's to serve dinner next month in new Station North spot

Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse plans to serve a full dinner menu next month at its new Station North location.

The store opened Nov. 20 at its new location at 30 W. North Ave., where it roasts its own coffee beans from Thread Coffee on site. It initially offered baked goods and expanded its cafe menu Dec. 5 to include sandwiches, soups and salads. The nine-year-old radical bookstore and coffeehouse announced its move from Mount Vernon late last year. 
Previously occupied by Cyclops Books, the new space is 4,600 square feet, nearly six times the size of its 800-square-foot spot on Saint Paul Street.
“In the old space, one of the problems that we had was that all the space we had was what you saw,” Khatib says.
Now the coffeehouse has designated space for storage, a kitchen, an office and bathrooms. 
The vegetarian menu will be expanded to include kale, potato wedges and vegan mac and cheese. It will continue to serve soups and sandwiches during the day. 
Red Emma’s is a co-op and will add more collective-owners to its staff. While the business does not hire new workers, it does bring people into the project as worker-owners, people who are interested in investing in the project long-term.
“The members that we have right now are not enough to fill all of the shifts that we’re going to need so we will be looking to add new folks to the co-op,” Khatib says.

Writer: Daryl Hale
Source: Kate Khatib, Red Emma's 

National Aquarium in Baltimore hires architect as it plots real estate moves

Leaders at the National Aquarium in Baltimore are weighing upgrades to its Inner Harbor building, moving its Fells Point animal rescue facility and changes to its dolphin exhibit that will enhance its conservation mission.

The aquarium has hired Studio Gangs Architects and Impacts Research & Development LLC to prepare a report by the spring that will lay out its strategic planning initiative, says Eric Schwaab, the aquarium’s chief conservation officer. 

“A big part of the effort will involve significant outreach to other partners and stakeholders in the community,” Schwaab says. 

In addition to its tourist attraction at the Inner Harbor, the aquarium operates an 11-acre property and former brownfields site located along the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. It was set to become a $50 million development with classroom space and a new animal care facility, known as the Center for Aquatic Life and Conservation. Those plans stalled during the economic downturn as fundraising became a challenge. The report will help aquarium staff determine what is the best use of the site going forward.

The aquarium is considering moving its animal rescue facility in Fells Point to a more visible spot near its main Inner Harbor attraction. 

“From a business perspective and logistically, we would love to move it closer" to the main building, Schwaab says. That would make it easier to move animals from the main building to the animal care facility. 

Alternatively, it could move its animal care facility to its South Baltimore property, something it has considered in the past, Schwaab says. 

The aquarium is also evaluating whether to enhance its Dolphin Discovery experience and upgrade the building that houses it. The current exhibit allows visitors to interact with dolphin trainers. “We’ve moved away from shows that are pure entertainment” to ones that focus on research and education, Schwaab says.
In August, the aquarium debuted its $12.5 million Blacktip Reef exhibit. It recently closed its D.C. location, but says it is still committed to having a presence again someday in the nation’s capital. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Eric Schwaab, National Aquarium

New Mount Vernon cafe to sell espresso, yoga mats and vinyl records

A new coffee shop is coming soon to the Mount Vernon neighborhood and plans to serve more than coffee and pastries.
NuBohemia, which bills itself as a modern bohemian cafe, will sell jewelry, yoga gear and vinyl records when it opens at 42 W. Biddle St. in about a month.
Owner John Johnson says the coffee shop will serve espresso and espresso-based drinks, drip coffee, hot and iced tea, and smoothies.

“We want to be a destination for folks, a place people will want to come and enjoy each other’s company,” Johnson says.
The shop has partnered with a local Maryland record store to sell vinyl in the shop. NuBohemia hopes to appeal to the young artists and college students who live in the area.
The 1000-square-foot space is located just a block and a half from the 1200 block of Charles Street, an area that Johnson says believes is the “hottest area of the city.” The block is home to a growing cluster of shops and restaurants, including Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Starbucks, Tutti Frutti, TriBeCa Coffee Roasters, Oooh So Sweet bakery and Pet Valu. The area has attracted more businesses as its student population has grown with the expansion of the University of Baltimore
“We wanted to open as close to this block as possible,” Johnson says.
Johnson came across this location while working in the events promotion field.
“We started doing events for 10 years and actually got away from wanting to open the coffee shop,” he says. “But now that things have settled down, we’re back to wanting to open the brick and mortar of the coffee shop.”
Johnson says the shop will be open Thursday through Sunday for the first year, and will then expand its hours to seven days a week thereafter.

Writer: Daryl Hale
Source: John Johnson

Ryleigh's Oyster opens new Timonium location

The owner of Ryleigh’s Oyster House opened his second location in Timonium this month after investing $2 million to transform the former Gibby's Seafood spot into the 300-seat restaurant.

The 10,000-square-foot location at 22 W. Padonia Road has a 2,000-square-foot rooftop herb garden available for private dining, and a patio.

“There was never any curb appeal,” Ryleigh’s Owner Brian McComas says of the former location. “So we definitely made it ‘shore house chic’ and rebuilt the whole front section of the building.”

The original Ryleigh’s is a Federal Hill stalwart, featuring over 100 different kinds of oysters in the course of a year. The new Timonium outpost will have a similar menu, with a few tweaks for the suburban dining scene, focusing a little more on traditional entrees, and a little less on shared or communal plates.

As in Federal Hill, the oysters play a starring role. In partnership with the Shooting Point Oyster Company, Ryleigh’s grows its own farm-raised oysters called Avery’s Pearls on Virginia’s Eastern shore. McComas says these smaller oysters are good for bivalve beginners.

“In order to address the people who think an oyster’s this big slimy thing, we cultivate our own," McComas says. Avery’s Oysters are small, petite, cocktail oysters, so that you don’t get this big hunk of slimy stuff.”

McComas recently held the Moet Oyster Ball Oct. 9 at Ryleigh’s in Federal Hill. The $65 tickets included an oyster bar, open bar and hors d’oeuvres. The event kicked off OysterFest Oct 12-13. The Cross Street festival featured the annual Baltimore Oyster Shucking Competition, as well as live music and raw bars. Proceeds for both benefited the Living Classrooms Foundation and the Oyster Recovery Partnership. 

Writer: Amy Landsman
Sources: Scotti Offutt and Brian McComas, Ryleigh's Oyster 

New coworking space opens in Charles Village

A new coworking space in Charles Village is offering entrepreneurs and freelancers the chance to work in a shared office.
The Charles Village Exchange, which began operating Oct. 1, has dedicated about 900 square feet for coworking. The practice involves sharing office space in an environment that is more professional than a home or coffee shop, but that is less expensive and less contractually binding than renting an executive suite. The Exchange joins several other coworking spots in Greater Baltimore. 
The space is located at 2526 St. Paul Street on the third floor of the building, where co-owners Doug Austin and Eve Austin’s businesses are housed on other floors.
The Charles Village Exchange includes an enclosed meeting room, a kitchenette, a lounge, a bathroom, soundproof phone booth and seven workspaces that make up the main area.
The cost varies based on how many desks are licensed and the duration of the license but range from $260 a month per desk to the entire floor for $1,600 a month for a year.
Doug Austin says that he and Eve Austin chose the building about a year ago, when his business, UPD Consulting, outgrew its previous location in Ridgely’s Delight and moved to its current Charles Village location.
“This building in particular is a really beautiful building,” Doug Austin says. “It’s in the heart of Baltimore. It’s close to the train station, which was convenient for us. And we just really liked the neighborhood.”
But after realizing that they had extra space on the third floor, he says that coworking was the perfect way to put the space to use.
“It’s actually kind of exciting to have that kind of energy and different types of people and businesses in the same building with us,” Austin says. “There are a lot of budding entrepreneurs in this neighborhood. We don’t want them to move down to D.C. or Philadelphia or something because they don’t have something like this that is enticing to them.”
Charles Village Exchange will hold an open house on Nov. 20. For the first 25 guests at the event, the business will donate a turkey in each visitor’s name to the Margaret Brent School in Charles Village.

Writer: Daryl Hale
Sources: Doug Austin, Holly Burke, Charles Village Exchange

Nickel Taphouse opens in Mount Washington

About a year after opening his popular artisan pizza joint Birroteca, Robbin Haas has tackled his next restaurant venture in Mount Washington.

The Nickel Taphouse opened Nov. 20 in the former Blue Sage Café and Wine Bar space at 1604 Kelly Ave.

The 100-seat restaurant serves grilled oysters, mussels, burgers and roast beef served on kimmelweck rolls, topped with sea salt and caraway seeds. The sandwich is a specialty in Haas’ native Buffalo, N.Y. The restaurant also serves 32 craft beers on draft and about 50 wines. Menu items cost between $5 and $19. 

The 4,000-square-foot Nickel Taphouse is inspired by the places Haas used to frequent in his working class neighborhood. “They had great food and a lively bar crowd. These are places to hang out and stop in everyday.”

Haas, who is leasing the space, says he wasn’t looking to expand but a good business opportunity came along. He declined to say how much he spendt on the business.

“I like Mount Washington. I think there’s an opportunity for another restaurant there. I like it because it’s homey, it has a wide diversity of people. It has a great vibe to it.”

Located in the Jones Falls area, Birroteca serves pasta, calamari and other modern Italian fare. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Robbin Haas, Birroteca

Dooby's Coffee opens in Mount Vernon

After months of anticipation from Mount Vernon residents, Dooby’s Coffee opened Saturday in the building that once housed popular coffee shop Donna's.

Owner Phil Han says the coffee house features his four favorite things.  If “we can excel in coffee, in-house pastries, sandwiches, and craft beers, then we’re perfectly happy."

The cafe serves 12 draft beers and assortment of wines. Dooby's is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reviewers on Yelp praise the cafe's avocado toast and butter-brown chocolate chip cookies. 

A pop-up version of the coffeehouse had been operating over the last few months in the Hatch, Han's incubator that is located around the corner from Dooby's. Home accessories retailer zestt is moving into the pop-up space. Founded by Jessica Diehl and Benita Goldblattt, zestt sells contemporary textiles, art and accessories. 

Extensive renovation at 800 North Charles St. took place following a five-alarm fire in 2010. The fire forced local favorite restaurants Indigma, Donna’s and My Thai to close. Indigma has since opened across the street at 801 N. Charles St. and My Thai opened next to Heavy Seas Alehouse in the Tack Factory in Little Italy. Donna's is not reopening in the building. It has locations in the Village of Cross Keys and Charles Village. Its Columbia location closed in May.

The 2,500-square-foot location will have seating for 75 inside and an additional 22 seats outside once it gets its permit for outdoor seating. It will feature clean lines and natural colors.

Han says it took more than a year to settle on the perfect name for the coffeehouse. “Dooby” is Han’s childhood nickname and comes from a Korean word. 

Han says many Korean-Americans like himself are in the food service business, but he says a Korean-American owned coffeehouse was an unfilled niche. So, as a gift to the Korean-American community, he decided to jump in.

He first searched for a space in Howard County, home to many Korean-owned businesses. When he couldn’t find what he was looking for, he turned to the city’s Mount Vernon neighborhood.

“It was like a no-brainer spot for me. This is such an awesome place, with colleges, young professionals. The amount of art and creativity that surrounds us is just amazing.”

Han says he believes the neighborhood is looking forward to having a new coffee house in the now-renovated block. Many area residents have taken pictures and asked him when he is opening.
Source: Phil Han, owner, Dooby’s Coffee
Writer: Amy Landsman landlink1@verizon.net 

National Aquarium still 'committed to a presence in D.C.'

The National Aquarium may have shuttered its D.C. location last month, but the nonprofit wants to continue its mission of conservation in the nation’s capital.

Though it lacks the funds to construct another facility just like the old one in the Department of Commerce building, the aquarium has hired a Chicago architect and a research firm to determine whether it can build an attraction in D.C. sometime in the future, the aquarium's Senior Vice President Eric Schwaab says.  

“Do we have the capital resources to turn around and build a new aquarium there? In the short term, the answer is no. But we’re committed to a presence in D.C.,” says Schwaab, who is also the aquarium's chief conservation officer, a position that the aquarium created recently as it seeks to emphasize its role in sustaining marine life. 

Whether that presence is an actual aquarium or more of an ocean conservation center will be determined after the companies that it hired, Studio Gangs Architects and Impacts Research & Development, prepare a report in the spring.

“The sets of questions we’re asking are ‘What kind of facility is most valuable? How does it fit into our mission? And how do we articulate a vision that is compelling enough to garner the resources to make it work?” Schwaab says. 

The aquarium closed its D.C. facility to make way for renovations in the Commerce building. About 1,700 animals were moved from the D.C. aquarium to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, including a giant Pacific octopus. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Eric Schwaab, National Aquarium 

MOM's Organic Market to open first Baltimore City store at the Rotunda

MOM’s Organic Market says it will open a store at The Rotunda, ending months of speculation surrounding which grocer will anchor the $100 million redevelopment of the retail, office and residential project in Hampden.

The Rockville-based company will open a 15,000-square-foot shop, its eighth in Maryland and third in Greater Baltimore. It has stores in Timonium and Columbia. The Rotunda store will be MOM's first in Baltimore City. 

“I really like where [the Rotunda] is located,” MOM’s founder Scott Nash says. “It’s close to I-83. The parking is good. We’re pretty excited about it.”

MOM’s will replace Giant grocery store, which moved less than two blocks away last year to the Greenspring Tower Shopping Center. It’s unclear, however, when MOM's will open. The first new retail shops at the Rotunda will open in 18 to 20 months, but Chris Bell, senior vice president of developer Hekemian & Co. Inc., says he is not sure whether MOM’s or what other retailers will be among them.

Nash says the store will employ between 50 and 60 and feature a “naked lunch” section similar to its Timonium store. This section will feature largely vegetarian fare, including salads, a black bean burger, a beet burger and other food items.

“We think it’s a great addition to the project,” Bell says. “Their customer is the customer we’re going for. These are health conscious, young professionals starting to populate Hampden. We think it will drive a lot of traffic to The Rotunda.”

Construction began this month on the much-anticipated Rotunda redevelopment that was stalled for years due to the recession. City officials and the developer will hold a formal groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday, Sept. 18.

The redeveloped Rotunda will include a total of 83,000 square feet of new retail, a 379-unit apartment building and 1,100 parking spaces. Bell says the retail makeup will likely consist of five restaurants, a gym, coffee shop, pet store and salons. The site is also home to the Rotunda Cinemas.

Shops at The Rotunda will face a central plaza that will hold farmers’ markets, music festivals and other gatherings, Bell says.

Bozzuto Construction Co. is the general contractor while the Design Collective is the project's architect.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Chris Bell, Hekemian & Co. Inc; Scott Nash, MOM's 

Sip-and-paint studio opening in Mt. Washington

Baltimore residents will soon have a place to learn how to paint while sipping a glass of chardonnay once the Painted Palette paint-and-sip opens its new studio in Mt. Washington Village mid-September.
Co-owner Becca Hauser says she and her partner Brooke Snyder signed a lease for an 1,800-square-foot space near the Mt. Washington Tavern and Baltimore Clayworks.

Hauser says they chose this location because Mt.  Washington is a close-knit community that supports local businesses and the arts. It is also accessible by both city and count residents and also by light rail. 

The paint-and-sip shop trend combines wine drinking with a painting workshop. The two-hour classes will cost $35 and students can bring their favorite bottle of wine.  

The entrepreneurs have been taking paint supplies and bottles of wine to birthday parties, corporate events and ladies’ nights for the past year. But they decided to lease a studio before their company's one-year anniversary.
“We feel that our client base has grown in such a way that it can support studio classes and I think it’s the right time to take things to the next level,” Hauser says.
The Painted Palette will likely host classes Thursday-Sunday, all of which will be open to the public.  And the duo will continue to host private parties and corporate events as they come up. 

Writer: Daryl Hale
Source: Becca Hauser

Yoga studio flexing its way to Locust Point

Locust Point residents will get a new place to practice their downward facing dog when BambooMoves Yoga opens in September.
Owner Monica Ott says that she wanted to bring a yoga studio to Locust Point after moving to the neighborhood earlier this year.

“I really wanted to bring a sense of a holistic approach of fitness and wellness to the neighborhood, which I thought was kind of lacking,” Ott says.

The 800-square-foot studio will be located at 1624 E Fort Ave. The space, which was formerly an organic nail salon, is currently undergoing some construction, such as repainting and redoing the floors to embody an “inviting, warm feel,” Ott says. The style will be modern vintage.
Though Ott privately owns the studio, it is part of the BambooMoves yoga collective, which is composed of four independent studios in the metro New York area. 
The Locust Point location will offer mostly yoga classes at all levels, with live music in the background. The style of yoga is Hatha Raja Vinyasa

Though a schedule is not yet finalized, classes will be offered seven days a week in the morning, midday and evening. For the first month, customers can purchase an unlimited membership for $30.
Ott says she hopes that the studio will build a sense of community in the neighborhood. “I want it to be very inviting, a place where you feel comfortable in any type of class,” she says.

Writer: Daryl Hale
Source: Monica Ott, Bamboo Moves

MICA opening $16M dorm next month in Bolton Hill

Students at Maryland Institute College of Art looking to live on campus will get new digs next month. The Bolton Hill art college is opening a $16.3 million residence hall as enrollment grows and unveiling a $3 million renovation of its residential complex.
Located at 130 McMechen St., Leake Hall will house 240 students in 62 units. Part of the college's newly named Founder's Green Residential Complex, Leake Hall will include a performance space, lecture hall and artist studios. 

Renovations to the residential complex include a new entrance at the John H.B. Latrobe House and a new student lounge, a grill-style dining facility and expanded laundry facilities at Margaret F.S. Glace Hall. Baltimore architecture firm Hord Coplan Macht designed Leake Hall while Ayers Saint Gross handled the renovations. MICA financed the construction and renovations primarily through tax exempt bonds issued by the school and the Maryland Health and Higher Education Facilities Authority.
MICA has been updating and expanding its campus its facilities and housing in recent years to accommodate its student growth. Renovations to Studio Center, a complex for graduate programs on North Avenue, wrapped up last fall.
In 2008, MICA debuted its $30 million Gateway complex at the intersection of North Avenue and Mount Royal Avenue.  The dorm houses 215 students in apartment-style housing.
MICA enrolls nearly 3,000 undergraduate, graduate and continuing education students. Enrollment grew 16 percent last year. 
Source: Jessica Weglein, MICA’s director of public relations
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, Alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Hampden skincare studio moves to Lauraville retail incubator

With her organic and vegan skincare products on the shelves, Shelley Birnbaum's ReNew Botanicals has become the first tenant in the Hamilton-Lauraville retail incubator.
Owner Shelley Birnbaum previously had a small skin care studio in Hampden, but wanted more space so she could add her retail line of products.
“I just had my skin care studio and that was by appointment only. I didn’t have retail or anything like that.  I was making my products at home. So I really was looking to have everything under one roof,” she says.
The Lauraville resident got in touch with Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street and ended up as the incubator’s first tenant, occupying 750 square feet last month.
Birnbaum has also launched a baby line called Baby Botanicals. Birnbaum declined to discuss her investment, but says she was helped by an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.
“It’s wonderful to be close to home. It’s exciting to be part of this project to help revitalize the Hamilton retail district.”
Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street is assisting Birnbaum by reviewing her business plan, helping her obtain permits, preparing financial statements and promoting her retail line through Facebook, email blasts and blogs. The incubator is a former volunteer fire station and one-time Hamilton Democratic Club at 3015 Hamilton Ave.
Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street purchased the 3,250-square foot building for $64,000 last year. Now, the first floor has been renovated and given new life as a place where small, local businesses can be nurtured until the owners are ready to move into a storefront of their own.
Writer: Amy Landsman
Sources: Shelley Birnbaum, owner ReNew Botanicals
Regina Lansinger, director Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street

Dress for Success getting more closet space in new Northeast Baltimore digs

The local affiliate of Dress for Success is moving to 5525 Belair Road in June, an expansion that will give the nonprofit more room to outfit low-income women with gently used professional clothing.
Dress will occupy about 1,300-square-feet on the lower level and first floor of a rowhouse in the city’s Waltherson neighborhood in Northeast Baltimore.
Since 2009, Dress for Success has been renting space in the Anchorage Building, belonging to St. Ann Parish Church at 528 E. 22nd Street in the city’s Barclay neighborhood.
Dress for Success Executive Director Cleona Garfield says the nonprofit has outgrown the Anchorage and has been searching for larger quarters since 2011 after getting more donations.
The nonprofit received $23,000 in donations in fiscal year 2011, the most recent tax return filed on GuideStar. Garfield says she couldn’t even guess how many donations it received recently.
“Oh boy! I don’t know how to explain it to you other than to say we get a lot of donations.”
Property owner Jacob Danyali, the owner of Mercury Management LLC, says he’ll invest about $10,000 into painting, refinishing the wood floors, and other improvements for the group. Dress for Success will pay an undisclosed below-market rent.  Danyali has owned the property about ten years.
Dress for Success will use the first floor for the boutique and offices, and the lower floor for clothing storage. The boutique is set up just like a shop, with work-appropriate career coats, dresses, suits, blouses and blazers, all neatly sized and on racks. Shoes and bags are also on display.
A volunteer stylist meets with the client, gets an idea of her style, and selects an outfit for her. The client then tries everything on to see how it looks.
Once a client lands a new job, she returns to Dress for Success for additional clothes to help her build a professional wardrobe.
Dress for Success also runs career development workshops, focusing on everything from money management, to the importance of showing up for work on time.
Many of Baltimore’s Dress for Success clients find jobs in customer service; others land entry-level work in medicine or education. In 2012, the organization helped 500 women.
Dress for Success in Baltimore has about 20 volunteers. Founded in New York in 1997, Dress for Success now has affiliates across the U.S. and worldwide.
Reporter: Amy Landsman
Sources: Cleona Garfield, executive director, Dress for Success Baltimore; Jacob Danyali, owner, Mercury Management

International pastry shop and cafe opens in Mount Vernon

There’s a new place in Mount Vernon for residents to pick up steamed pork buns, Cuban pastries, Turkish coffee and Paraguayan empanadas.

The Bun Shop opened last month at 239 W. Read St. Co-owner Andrew Bui says he and his business partner Minh Vo will expand the BYOB café’s offerings in the next month to include furniture, home goods and flowers since the 1,700-square-foot spot offers room to grow.

“Originally we wanted a small store front but we just found this place. It was a bakery so it had a lot of equipment that we needed that we couldn’t afford,” Bui says.

The owners also will begin selling Vietnamese spring rolls and other appetizers on the weekends starting this month. The café will host its first event with the May 17 launch party for Slight-Mag, a fashion magazine started by Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) students.

Childhood friends Bui and Bo spent about $30,000 to open the Bun Shop, using their own cash and money borrowed from family. Bui says he left a product design job in New York while Bo left his pharmacology Ph.D. program at Johns Hopkins University.

Bui says the Bun Shop has been attracting area residents, including MICA and University of Baltimore students, interested in late-night cheap eats. The Bun Shop is open until 3 a.m. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Andrew Bui, the Bun Shop

Hampden dog care business relocating to bigger spot

The relocation of a Hampden business gives neighborhood dogs something to bark about.
The nine-year-old Good Doggie Day Care will be moving from 3500 Ash St. to a larger space at 529 W. 29th St. by early July.
The 14,000-square-foot location gives business owner JoAnne Garrett 5,500 square feet of more space and 13 playrooms instead of six. The new space, which formerly housed the Hanover Uniform Co., has two floors with a large ramp for the dogs.
“The new location is much easier to get to, and it won’t crowd the dogs,” Garrett says. “Also, some of our dogs are aging, and we’ll have a place for our ‘older kids’.” The new location will have a “Senior Paws” area dedicated to older dogs.
Garrett employs 23 and will will hire one assistant manager, one evening assistant manager and four daycare attendants for the new location.
Good Doggie takes care of 50 to 100 dogs per day. Prices range from $20 for one half-day session to $28 for five full-day sessions. One-third of the customers come from the neighborhood while many also come from downtown, Garrett says.
Contact: JoAnne Garrett, owner of Good Doggie Day Care
Writer: Jolene Carr

Developer moves ahead on 86-unit apartment complex in Station North

The developer behind Milk & Honey Market and the reopening of the Chesapeake restaurant is plotting an 86-unit apartment complex on Lanvale Street next to his new food establishments, which are weeks away from opening.
Ernst Valery says he expects to select an architect by July for the market-rate studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments. Construction on the yet-to-be named building in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District will begin a year from now and wrap up by summer of 2015. Valery says he hasn’t yet determined apartment rates.
The apartment building is the latest project in a neighborhood that is attracting more interest among city officials, developers and universities. A developer hired by Amtrak has proposed shops, housing and offices around Penn Station. Johns Hopkins University is moving some of its arts programs to the neighborhood and the Maryland Institute College of Art has purchased two buildings in the area.
But the neighborhood could use more housing, Valery says.
“Its a step toward making the neighborhood really great and realizing its full potential,” Valery says of his project.
Valery says he is now securing financing for the apartments and declined to provide details until the plans are finalized.
Station North’s Milk & Honey Market and the new Chesapeake Restaurant will open in two to three weeks, Valery says. It will be the city’s second Milk & Honey. The other one is located in Mount Vernon. Chesapeake, which will focus on regional cuisine, bears the same name as the restaurant that shuttered a quarter century ago. The property has since been vacant.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Ernst Valery

Owner of Waverly's Darker Than Blue hopes to hit a homerun with new sports bar

The owner of Waverly’s popular Darker Than Blue Café is opening a neighborhood sports bar in the city’s Cedmont community, six blocks south of Northern Parkway.

Casey Jenkins’ new Birdland Sports Bar & Grill at 6319 Belair Road will open by late May. It's just one of several restaurant projects for Jenkins, who is scouting new locations for an expanded Darker Than Blue.  

Jenkins says he’s put about $100,000 into redoing what was once the Ray Charles Lounge. The 2,000-square-foot space will seat 125 and employ six.

While Darker Than Blue is an 85-seat white tablecloth establishment, Birdland will have a bright, more casual vibe. The menu will feature some Southern cuisine — Darker Than Blue’s specialty – and serve pasta and 15 types of sliders. The restaurant will be decorated with art and memorabilia that links the city’s rich sports history of the Colts and the Orioles of old, with the Ravens and Orioles of today.

“It’s gonna be a hip sports bar,” Jenkins says.

Jenkins says he hopes to repeat the recipe for success he’s had with Darker Than Blue on Greenmount Avenue with this new venture on Belair Road. That is, he’s opening a locally owned restaurant on a major thoroughfare in a neighborhood underserved by good dining options. He predicts Birdland will be the spark that brings other local businesses to the community.

Jenkins attended a community meeting to hear what neighborhood residents themselves wanted along Belair Road.

“They said they wanted someplace they could sit and go to. There are no sit-down restaurants in that corridor, and that’s extremely shocking to me, and that’s exactly what they said in the Cedmont community meeting.”

The renovations are being financed by Jenkins and two partners. Jenkins is also looking at gap financing, including micro-loans.

Birdland will feature a a full bar. The menu will showcase about 15 different types of sliders, pastas, and a variety of dishes with “Southern flair.”
Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Casey Jenkins, owner, Darker Than Blue, Birdland Sports Bar & Grill.

Downtown Baltimore's Preston Gardens getting $3.5M upgrade

Preston Gardens, the two-level patch of green space facing Mercy Medical Center in downtown Baltimore, is getting a $3.5 million facelift and expansion to accommodate food vendors, outdoor seating and more events.
Once the renovations are complete in 2014, the garden’s upper level will take over the space that is used now as a parking lane on Saint Paul Street. The expansion will make room for a plaza with food kiosks, outdoor seating and garden overlook. The park’s aging wall and stairs will undergo repairs as well, says Kirby Fowler, president of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc.
The nonprofit, which promotes downtown Baltimore as a place to live and do business, is working with Baltimore City on the park expansion. With an expanding residential base, downtown needs to enhance its parks, Fowler says.
“We need as much green space as possible,” Fowler says. “I think it’s one of our more beautiful parks. The walls and stairs are starting to show their age.”
The park has hosted more events in the last few years, including a Beer & Bocce Ball and yoga classes.
“We’re trying to make it more appealing to residents,” Fowler says.
The Baltimore City Department of Transportation will issue a bid for a contractor by the end of the year. Construction will take about a year to complete, Fowler says.
Downtown Partnership received $1.7 million matching grant from the state and federal governments for the Preston Gardens expansion. The matching money will come from Downtown Partnership, Baltimore City general obligation bonds and Mercy Medical Center.
Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Kirby Fowler, Downtown Partnership 

Doggie daycare center opening in Canton

A new daycare in Canton will invite your four-legged children to sit, stay and play.
Dogtopia of Canton will open at the end of April. The 7,000-square-foot space above Ace Hardware will feature three playrooms for small, medium and large dogs.
Manager Becky Reece says the company will open more stores in the city and that the Canton location is a test run. Dogtopia Canton will have four or five playroom attendants and three shift managers.
Reece, owner of pups Aysha and Isabelle, says the neighborhood seemed like an ideal spot because it is pet friendly. The doggie daycare will be located at 2706 O’Donnell St., within walking distance of the Canton Dog Park.
The first Dogtopia opened in Tysons Corner, Va., in 2002. There are currently 22 locations, most of which are franchises. Dogtopia Canton will be the third Maryland location and the fifth company-owned store. Franchises cost between $275,000 and $476,000 in startup costs.
Dogtopia allows dogs to wrestle, chase and run while their owners are at work. “We give a piece of mind to dog owners who are gone long hours but still want their dogs to exercise and socialize. The dogs are nice and tired by the end of the day,” Reece says.
Dogtopia emphasizes interactions among dogs rather than dogs and staff. Customers will be able to bring their dog for the day, overnight or for a dog wash and shampoo. Dogtopia will charge $31 for a day pass with various discounts for multiple days. Overnight stays will cost $20 per night plus the daycare fee.
Dogtopia accepts canines of any size and age, and there are no breed restrictions. Each prospective dog has to undergo a “temperament evaluation” before acceptance into daycare.
Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Becky Reece; manager of Dogtopia of Canton

Bozzuto's $70M Union Wharf apartments opening next month in Fells point

The developer of the $70 million Union Wharf apartments is hoping to attract tenants with the Fells Point building’s “South Beach” vibe when it opens next month.

The Bozzuto Group's 320,000-square-foot building at 915 S. Wolfe St. features 281 apartments and 12,000 square feet of common space, with a fitness center, bar, screening room, infinity pool and three courtyards. Union Wharf will also include a 4,400 square feet of retail space at the corner of Thames and Wolfe streets, which Bozzuto expects to lease to a restaurant.

 “We’ve modeled it close to the amenity spaces that surround a courtyard and the pool on resorts that we’ve seen in places like South Beach,” says Jeff Kayce, vice president of Bozzuto Development.

The market-rate apartments are a mix of studios, one, and two-bedroom units, starting at $1,610 for a studio and topping out at $3,125 for a two-bedroom and a den. About 40 apartments have been leased so far.

Bozzuto is targeting potential renters who are looking for “something unique in Fells Point, who like that neighborhood feel,” says Union Wharf Property Manager Blake Nicholson.

Demand for rentals in downtown neighborhoods remains very high. A 2012 report from the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc. notes that occupancy remains “very strong,” at more than 96 percent. The Downtown Partnership’s Outlook 2017 report predicts that downtown could easily add nearly 6,000 new residential units over the next five years.

Union Wharf is just a few blocks east of Harbor Point, where nearly 2 million square feet of office, retail, restaurants, and hotels are being developed. The office space includes the future home of energy giant Exelon Corp.

Bozzuto expects Union Wharf will be certified LEED silver as it has Energy Star appliances, energy efficient windows, and 90 percent of the construction waste was recycled.

 “It is really an amenity for the neighborhood and an anchor for that corner of the building there,” says Kayce.

The space is being marketed by H&R Retail, with no confirmed tenant as of yet.

The site is redevelopment of a former industrial property, at various times it was a concrete plant, an oyster packing facility, and an ice house.

“It’s a trophy location, it’s on the water, it’ on a cobblestone street in the heart of Fells Point, so it has wonderful historical context,” Kayce says. “That’s obviously why we’re attracted to it.”
Writer: Amy Landsman; amy@bmoremedia.com
Sources: Jeff Kayce, Bozzuto Development vice president, and Blake Nicholson, Union Wharf property manager 

Dishcrawl eyes Hampden, Fells Point and Baltimore County for its next culinary adventure

Maybe you've tried bar-hopping, but what about restaurant-hopping? Dishcrawl, which launches in Baltimore this month, dubs itself as a “gastronomic adventure” and encourages guests to try a variety of foods in selected neighborhoods.

Baltimore’s first Dishcrawl will be held in Canton April 17, taking diners to four “secret” restaurants. Founder Tracy Lee says the company will expand the culinary social experience to Fells Point, Federal Hill, Charles Village and Hampden, though no events have been scheduled yet. If Baltimore City crawls are successful, Lee says she will consider expanding Dishcrawl to Baltimore County.  

Lee launched Dishcrawl in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2010 as a way to share her favorite restaurants. Though it's now up and running in New York, Montreal, Ottawa, San Jose, Toronto, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., it wasn’t an instant success.

“In the beginning, it was really hard to figure out how to get the word out,” Lee says. “I would spend 20 hours promoting to get 20 people to an event.”

Lee turned to social media to help promote the crawls. She and her team, which includes ambassadors in each city, use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets to spread the word.

“I love Baltimore and the diverse food scene,” Lee says. “The community and coming together as a group of foodies is what makes Dishcrawl successful in cities.”

Curious as to which Canton restaurants will be included in the inaugural crawl? Keep an eye on Twitter, where the team will drop hints at @dishcrawlbal. Ticket holders will receive an email with the meeting location 48 hours prior to the crawl.   

The first three restaurants will feature one dish each and the the fourth will serve dessert. Chefs and restaurateurs will share stories, as well. Tickets cost $45, excluding alcohol.

Writer: Renee Libby Beck
Source: Tracy Lee, Dishcrawl 

Clothing stores Sixteen Tons, Doubledutch moving into shared spot on the Avenue

Two independent clothing stores in Hampden, Sixteen Tons and Doubledutch Boutique are moving into a shared space on the Avenue next month.

The move will allow the two stores to share overhead expenses and carry a wider array of merchandise, Sixteen Tons Owner Daniel Wylie says. 

The two-story, 1,400-square-foot spot at 1021  W. 36th St. is the former home of Denova furniture store. Doubledutch — a women's clothing store owned by Wylie's wife Lesley Jennings and Sixteen Tons will retain their separate names and brands.  

Wylie says he hopes the central block on the Avenue, next to the Food Market — a restaurant named a "hot spot" by Open Table diners — will give both stores more visibility and foot traffic. For Doubledutch, it's a chance to move off Falls Road and onto Hampden's central thoroughfare, the Avenue. Wylie opened Sixteen Tons at 1100 W. 36th St. in 2010.  

Moving into a larger space will allow him to sell more shoes, accessories, shaving products and house wares. Diversifying his inventory will hopefully increase sales, Wylie says. If someone doesn’t want to buy a pair of trousers, maybe they might buy a table or shaving cream.

Wylie says he does not yet know how much the move will cost. He says the store is profitable, though sales fluctuate with the seasons. 
Learn more about Sixteen Tons in this video made by Shine Creative

Source: Daniel Wylie
Writer: Julekha Dash

Developer plotting $6.5M apartment, office and restaurant project in Mount Vernon

Developer Howard Chambers is spearheading a six-story, $6.5 million apartment, office and restaurant project at the vacant Mount Vernon building where his great-grandfather once ran one of Baltimore’s oldest design firms.
Chambers says he will break ground on 1010 North Charles St. between November and March of next year, adding 35 market-rate apartments behind and above it as part of the 47,000-square-foot project. The building will feature a mix of studio and one-bedroom units, with an average size of 640 square feet. Residents will have access to a rooftop patio. 
The building will contain a 2,850-square-foot restaurant with outdoor dining. The type of eatery remains wide open, Chambers says. The building’s second floor will be turned into office space. Chambers says he is still working on the final configuration of the building.
1010 N. Charles St. was once the headquarters of 108-year-old design firm, The H. Chambers Co., which moved to Baltimore office building Montgomery Park in 2006. It most recently housed Bath Time Inc., a showroom containing high-end faucets and other bath hardware that closed four years ago. 
The Mount Vernon Belvedere Association, The Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation and the city’s planning department have all signed off on the project. Engineering studies are underway.
Mount Vernon’s many transportation options make 1010 North Charles an attractive location for apartments, Chambers says. “Right next door there are 14 Zipcar spaces, the bus line to and from Hopkins, the train station to and from D.C. is three or four blocks north of the site, so apartments make a tremendous amount of sense.”
Mount Vernon has attracted more interest from developers as enrollment at the University of Baltimore has grown from 5,000 to 7,000 in the past five years. Since UB doesn’t have dorms, many of those students are clamoring for nearby apartments. Plus, Chambers thinks 1010 North Charles will attract hospital workers from Mercy Medical Center and Johns Hopkins Hospital, as well as faculty from University of Baltimore's new law school building set to open next month.
Writer: Amy Landsman; amy@bmoremedia.com
Source: Howard Chambers, president of 1010 North Charles LLC

Marketplace at Fells Point signs lease with neighborhood Main Street group

The developer of the Marketplace at Fells Point says that that the first phase of the $40 million apartment and shopping complex will be ready by the first quarter of 2014. It has also signed on Fells Point Main Street as a tenant.

Roughly half the retail and 59 apartments located east of Broadway will be completed at that time, says Dolben Co. Senior Vice President Drew Dolben. The completion of the remaining 100 apartments and 13,000 square feet of retail is still several years out, Dolben says.

Early 2014 is also when Dolben Co. will debut the renovated former Fells Point Comfort Station at 1630 Aliceanna St., which Dolben bought from the city in late 2011 for $275,000.

The former comfort station will house the new office of Fells Point Main Street, which signed a 10-year lease with Dolben. The nonprofit, which promotes the neighborhood’s historic district, will move from its current location at be located on the second floor. The first floor will house a fitness center for the apartment residents.

Dolben says it is wrapping up the foundation work along the 600 block of Broadway and building a new structure behind of the facades.

The idea is to construct a modern building while retaining the historical details. Dolben says he is now wrapping up the foundation work.

“When you walk down Broadway, you’ll think it’s been there for 100 years,” Dolben says.

Based in Massachusetts, Dolben has a regional office in Anne Arundel County’s Odenton. Dolben acquired the rights to develop the apartment and retail portion of the Marketplace at Fells in December 2011 from South Broadway Properties LLC’s Dave Holmes. South Broadway is still leading the $5 million renovation of the Broadway Market. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Drew Dolben, Dolben Co. 

Northeast Market begins $2M facelift

The Northeast Market in East Baltimore began it first significant renovation in decades, a $2 million facelift that will take about  six months to complete.

The 36,000-square-foot market near Johns Hopkins Hospital will get new doors, facade, entrance, more seating and better lighting. A candy and flower stall in the front of the market that will hopefully create a more upscale look that is more inviting for visitors, says Casper Genco, executive director of the Baltimore Public Markets Corp. Genco says he'll relocate five tenants in order to make room for additional seating and new tenants.

The nonprofit oversees Baltimore’s public markets while the city owns the property. The Baltimore Public Markets Corp. is putting $750,000 toward the renovation. Another $300,000 is coming from Johns Hopkins University and Health System. It's also getting grant money from the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition Inc.
Modernizing the facility will hopefully appeal to Johns Hopkins Hospital staff and visitors. Genco says he will also look for opportunities to expand the market’s healthful food offerings and hopes that new menu boards will help visitors locate vendors who sell healthier fare.
The Avenue Market on Pennsylvania Avenue reopened in the fall with about $500,000 worth of renovations and seven new stalls. The Baltimore Public Markets Corp. also oversees Cross Street Market in Federal Hill and Broadway Market in Fells Point. 

“Each of these public markets is a focal point of the community,” Genco says.

Check out BmoreMedia's 2011 feature on Northeast Market and the companion audio piece

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Casper Genco, Baltimore Public Markets Corp. 

Portuguese, Mexican and Italian cuisine coming to Towson

Portuguese, Italian and Mexican restaurants will join Cinemark Theatres at the $85 million Towson Square project, expected to generate more than 1,500 jobs.

Plans for the theater have also been revised, with 15 screens instead of the original 16, county officials and developers said at a news conference Tuesday. The theater will be one of two in the country to feature a VIP seating section with private bar access and premium food. Work on the 850-space parking garage will finish in the fall and the entire Towson Square project will open in 2014.

Nando’s Peri-Peri, La Tagliatella and On the Border Mexican Grill and Cantina will open at the development, along with five other eateries that have yet to be unveiled. A South African-based franchise that sells flame-grilled Portuguese-style chicken, Nando's has restaurants in Annapolis, Gambrills, National Harbor, Silver Spring and Gaithersburg. La Tagliatella is a European chain that is owned by AmRest Holding SE, which bills itself as the largest independent restaurant operator in Central and Eastern Europe. This would be the first La Tagliatella in Maryland and the fourth in the US.

The development may include some retail, but the center will be predominantly entertainment focused, said Cordish Cos. Vice President Blake Cordish. 

Branding Towson as an area that can attract folks outside the county was a major theme at the news conference.

"We’ve put together a collection of amenities that would be a regional draw,” Cordish said.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz engaged in a little light-hearted rivalry with Bethesda, saying he’s tired of hearing about Bethesda’s wonderful amenities and strong business community.

“Guess what folks? We’re certainly a livable and loveable jurisdiction. We are going to make Towson a regional destination.”

Writer: Amy Landsman
Sources: Blake Cordish, Cordish Cos; Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County Executive 

A New Partner Dances Into the Creative Alliance

Watch out for new movement in East Baltimore as the Rayn Fall Dance Studio expands to a second location at the Creative Alliance in Highlandtown.

Classes operated by the woman-owned dance workshop will take place in the Alliance’s black box theater, which holds concerts, movie screenings and their annual holiday craft fair.

Morgan State University graduate Sharayna Christmas Rose founded Rayn Fall Dance Studio in 2004 and operates the other location at the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center.

The Creative Alliance struck a partnership with Rayn Fall after the education coordinator enrolled her stepdaughter at the studio. She admired the program and thought dance would make a good addition to the Alliance’s community outreach. At the same time, Rayn Fall was seeking to expand in southeast Baltimore.

“We are a community based organization, and so is Rayn Fall Dance Studio, so it was such a good marriage,” Creative Alliance Marketing Director Helen Yuen says. The collaboration is a natural extension of the after-school arts education programs the Alliance currently offers to the community.

Classes for the winter session include for Mommy & Me Creative Movement education for toddlers, as well as ballet, tap and hip hop for elementary kids.

Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Helen Yuen, Creative Alliance

Developer Plots $25M Apartment and Retail Complex in South Baltimore

Construction will begin this summer on a $25 million building with market-rate apartments, a 247-car garage and retail.

Developer Chesapeake Realty Partners expects the project to be completed in the spring of 2014. The Owings Mills company also spearheaded the apartment complex across the street at 1901 Patapsco St.

Plans for the as-yet unnamed project at 2 East Wells St. call for 153 apartments, including 96 efficiencies and 57 one-and-two bedroom units. Renters can expect to pay, on average, about $1,800 per month. 

Currently, there are warehouses and offices on the lot, which also includes 1800 and 1802 Patapsco Streets. Mayers says he believes this is an opportunity to “create a new version of an existing neighborhood,” with good walkability and easy highway access.

The project also calls for 6,000 square feet of retail, says Chesapeake Realty President Jonathan Mayers. Facing East Wells Street, future retail tenants will serve the local community, and could include a bagel and coffee shop, nail salon, or a small local grocery, Mayers says.

“There’s really few commercial or industrial buildings left, and everything else in the neighborhood is more or less rowhomes or new apartment buildings,” Mayer says.

Demand for apartments remains strong throughout the city as many apartment complexes report nearly 100 percent occupancy rates. 

“We feel there’s a dearth of housing options in the south Baltimore market,” says Josh Fidler, Chesapeake’s chief operating officer. He says the area holds a number of assets, including Riverside Park, the headquarters for the National Federation of the Blind and the former Pabst brewery that is set to reopen this summer.

Mayers says the garage will be large enough to offer secure parking for tenants and visitors, with additional spaces available for lease. Plans also call for widening the alleys around the new building, making parking and access easier for the existing rowhomes on South Charles, Barney and Patapsco Streets.
Jonathan Mayers and Josh Fidler; Chesapeake Realty Partners
Writer: Amy Landsman

Investors Spending $1.3M to Resurrect Former Pabst Brewery

A South Baltimore entrepreneur is brewing up plans to revive the former Pabst Brewing Co. building at the corner of Wells and South Charles Streets.

Former Austin Grill General Manager Spike Owen and a team of investors are spending more than $1.3 million to renovate the historic vacant building for the yet-to-be named project, expected to wrap up by fall. Baltimore's Green Door Properties LLC is the developer. 

Owen says he hopes to open a brewery that produces European and American-style ales and lagers and a taproom that seats 65 to 80 with a limited food menu. He says he is partnering with a veteran brewer with 25 years of experience but declined to name him as the brewer is employed elsewhere in town.

He’s the latest in the recent spate of hopeful entrepreneurs who have tapped into Baltimore residents’ thirst for locally made brews and beer-themed restaurants. Other recent entries include Union Craft Brewing in Woodberry and Heavy Seas Alehouse in Little Italy.

The idea of renovating a historic building that dates from Baltimore’s brewing heyday appeals to Owen. Beer manufacturing thrived from the late-1800s to the mid-1900s, thanks to the city's German immigrants.

“We like the sense of history,” he says. “We’re trying to bring [the building] back to what its original use was. When you have something like this, it helps with the branding.”

Owen says he’ll spend the next few months getting permits, ordering brewing equipment and modernizing the building’s infrastructure. The idea is to retain the historic features, including brick walls, wood beams and high ceilings.

The property is down the street from the National Federation of the Blind and a new apartment complex set to open spring of 2014. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Spike Owen 

Jewish Community Center Opening Federal Hill Branch

The Jewish Community Center of Baltimore is branching out to downtown Baltimore, opening a Federal Hill branch just for parents and kids. Opening Jan. 14, the center fills the void for city families who have long been frustrated by the lack of children’s gyms and other fun places for preschoolers’ downtown.

The JCC has leased 2,000 square-feet at 1118 Light St., between West and Cross Streets. The former office space will feature a drop-in playroom, a play area, a nursing room and a room that parents can rent for birthday parties.

 “We’ll have age appropriate toys and a clean, comfortable space that parents can come and have their kids play,” says JCC Family Program Coordinator Kim Jacobsohn. “Our goal is to create communities for families to connect with each other,” Jacobson says. “I’m very excited to finally be giving birth to this new project.”

The downtown branch joins the JCC’s two existing campuses in Park Heights and Owings Mills, both of which feature full-service fitness facilities and programing for all ages.

For the past five years or so, the JCC has been offering family programming in borrowed locations in Fells Point, Canton, and Federal Hill, and has long wanted a permanent place to call home.

“We decided to go to Federal Hill because we realized in Federal Hill there’s more likely to be a stay-at-home parent, or a parent who’s working from home, than other neighborhoods in downtown,” Jacobsohn says.

The first floor space is stroller accessible and members can park in a lot behind the building. Jacobsohn and a part-time program facilitator will staff the new facility.

The drop-in rate is $5 per child up to three times, after that, families are asked to join the Downtown JCC. The introductory membership rate is $50 a year.

The JCC is an educational, cultural and recreational agency. You do not have to be Jewish to become a member or sign up for a class.

The JCC will continue to offer its Hello Baby class for parents of newborns, and Infant Massage, in Fells Point and Canton. Other parent-child classes for babies and toddlers will move to the new location in Federal Hill.
Source: Kim Jacobsohn, JCC Family Program Coordinator
Reporter: Amy Landsman, landlink1@verizon.net

Breathe Books Hiring Former Louie's Pastry Chef For New Cafe

Hampden’s Breathe Books will add a café in February that offers beans, grains and greens.
Owner Susan Weis-Bohlen is spending $150,000 on the café, generated from area foundations and investors.
Vegan, vegetarian and Ayurvedic foods will be on the menu, in addition to café staples like scones and muffins. The new-age bookstore will also offer vegan cookies and cupcakes and raw macaroons, along with light meals like the Chick Pea Pick Me Up and Your Tart’s Desire and a daily blue-plate special. All treats will be made without white sugar and white flour. Weis-Bohlen is looking for local coffee products to sell at the venue at 810 West 36th St.
Joann Goshen, the former pastry chef of beloved Mount Vernon institution Louie's Bookstore Café will be working in the kitchen. Joining her will be Rene and Don Gorman, formerly of Pikesville’s Puffins Restaurant. Weis-Bohlen will also prepare dishes that conform to the Ayurvedic tradition. Ayurveda is a form of alternative medicine that relies on food for its healing properties.
In addition to the chefs, Weis-Bohlen will hire three additional employees as the hours extend from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Breathe currently employs four.
The coffee bar will be in the front of the store, with a lounge area in the back, outdoor seating on the porch and as many as six tables upstairs. The store will carry magazines and international newspapers once the café opens.
Weis-Bohlen says she considered finding a new space for the café but decided to include it in her 750-square-foot store, a renovated house that already has a kitchen. She says she wanted to stay in Hampden because of the support from the community and the Hampden Village Merchants Association.  
Breathe’s café will bring in another source of revenue as more people turn to digital books. “Books themselves aren’t what they used to be,” Weis-Bohlen says. “Customers need a healthy, happy living. Food makes a bookstore more comfortable and casual.”
Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Susan Weis-Bohlen, Breathe Books

Mt. Washington Pediatric Unveils $9M Renovation

Patients and visitors heading into the Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital on Rogers Avenue in North Baltimore now no longer face an outdated and nondescript main entrance.

A bright, renovated space now welcomes the nearly 6,500 patients, plus families, and caregivers who pass through the lobby each year.

“It’s bright. It’s colorful. You definitely know you’re in a place for children,” says Sheldon Stein, CEO of Mt. Washington.

The renovated lobby is one of three major upgrades completed Nov. 1. The $9 million renovation started two years ago.

The second update is a new canopy for ambulances, so premature babies being transported from local hospitals aren’t exposed to the hot sun or cold rain.

The third upgrade is a complete redesign and expansion of the hospital’s neonatal care unit, which added 10 more beds and allows it to take 100 to 150 more patient admissions each year. 

The design features a lot of high-tech touches: “Each bed has its own personal computer to document everything electronically,” says Stein. But there are also those tried and true low-tech features to help prevent germs. “You can’t go eight feet without walking into a sink to wash your hands,” Stein adds.

The renovations were part of a capital campaign that had its roots back in 2007, when Mt. Washington was jointly acquired by the University of Maryland Medical Center and Johns Hopkins Medicine. The board and leadership studied trends and realized there would be a growing need for babies who were ready to leave the pediatric ICU’s at local hospitals, but weren’t ready to go home.  Before construction began, staff and families were surveyed to see what they liked about the existing neonatal unit and what they wanted in the future.

The fundraising was financed through grants, corporate donations, and individual contributions. About $7 million paid for the capital improvements. The remaining $2 million is designated for the Mt. Washington Foundation, for programs and services.

The hospital has been adding nurses, social workers, case managers and physicians, and plans to continue hiring. The hospital has hired 20 additional clinical staff to accommodate the expansion. It employs 600 total.

“We have babies who are very tiny. They’re small but they come with a lot of technology. They have breathing apparatus, all sorts of pumps and IV’s,” says Stein. “We were very innovative in how we laid out this design that satisfied the families’ need to see a nurse close by, and the nurses’ needs to see another nurse.”

Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Shelter Stein, CEO, Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital

MICA Food Truck Rolls into Bolton Hill

Hungry students and residents of Bolton Hill have a new way of grabbing food on the go.
Maryland Institute College of Art's (MICA) new mobile kitchen, The Artist's Palate, now provides sandwiches, falafels, burritos, tacos, soups and hamburgers at a variety of food and drink locations around the art school's campus community.
The college spent approximately $100,000 to get the former bread truck up and running with a kitchen that includes refrigeration, a sandwich station, and a deep fryer. The truck is operated by Parkhurst Dining Services and managed by MICA.

Since launching last month, the food truck has been a hit with students, workers, and neighborhood residents alike, says Chris Bohaska, MICA's senior director of operations business services.
A food truck has been planned for the campus community for a couple of years, Bohaska says. The combination of the expansion of the campus onto North Avenue, as well as the unique schedule of MICA students who often take full-day studio art courses, provided the impetus to find a 'creative solution' to provide a variety of food options to the campus community.
Using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to broadcast its location, the food truck cycles to various campus spots. Social media will enable customers to determine which locations serve the community best, Bohaska says. Its schedule and locations will fluctuate semester by semester.
Food trucks on college campuses are relatively new, Bohaska says. He also believes that the campus is the first in Maryland to have a food truck operated by the institution.
Source: Chris Bohaska, MICA senior director, operations business services
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Barbecue Joint to Expand and Add Live Music

A Howard County barbecue joint is cooking up expansion plans.  Smokin' Hot Bar and Grille, which offers pulled pork, pit beef and chicken, plans to enlarge its space and add live music by January.
The Glenwood restaurant received approval from the county to expand the restaurant from 2,740 square-feet to 4,100 square-feet. In its expansion, the restaurant will expand to the location next door in the Inwood Village Center. Owner Brett Arnold says he could invest as much as $50,000 in the expansion.
In its current configuration, the restaurant's dining space becomes too crowded during the nights that the restaurant offers live music, Arnold says.
The space will be used to accommodate the bands that play as well as providing a retail space for the restaurant selling a variety of barbecue sauces and t-shirts, says owner Brett Arnold.
Smokin' Hot's sauces have names like Texas Red and Alabama White, and range from the mild Brown Sugar Baby to smoking hot Black Jack.
Menu items include Texas braised beef and chilies, pulled pork BBQ, beef stew, corned beef and cabbage, and vegetarian BBQ. While the restaurant is known for its barbecue, Smokin Hot also sells appetizers, seafood such as shrimp scampi, salads, a variety of side dishes and desserts.
The restaurant currently employs 30 people and plans to add additional staff after the expansion.
The restaurant opened nearly three years ago and Arnold says he's considering expanding the restaurant to other locations including Sykesville, Baltimore, and Washington.
"We're always looking, but it has to be the right thing," Arnold says.
Source: Brett Arnold, owner
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Ellicott City Getting $14M Rec Center This Spring

Ellicott City residents will have a new place to climb, swim and shoot some hoops this spring.
That’s when the Roger Carter Community Center at 3000 Milltowne Dr. is set to open. Construction on the nearly $14 million project started a year ago and is next to the Burgess Mill Station apartments. State and county bonds are funding the construction.
The recreation center is two-thirds complete with the steel structure, gym and parking lots finished, says Raul Delerme, chief of the Howard County Bureau of Capital Projects, Planning and Construction.
The 46,000-square-foot recreation center will replace the current one, which is less than one-fourth the size and was last renovated 20 years ago. The current recreation center is the only public facility in the county with a pool, Senior Development Officer of Howard County Housing Marcus Ervin says.
The two-story center will include outdoor basketball courts, preschool room, multi-purpose room, a five-lane swimming pool with beach entry, diving well and a retractable roof for the warmer seasons. It will also house a 24-foot climbing wall, an aerobics room and a 6,000-square-foot exercise room.
The Center will be Silver LEED-certified with a solar lighting that reduces utility costs by $63,000 per year.
Irvin says he expects the center to get 419 visitors per day with a total of 31 full-time employees and lifeguards.

Writer: Jolene Carr
Sources: Raul Delerme and Marcus Ervin, Howard County

Developer Plots 180 Single-Family Homes in Howard County

A Montgomery County developer has submitted plans this month to the Howard County Planning Board to build up to 180 single-family homes in Ellicott City.

The upscale custom homes at the Estates at Patapsco Park would be located just next to Route 29 and Old Frederick Road. Homes would range between 2,500 and 6,000 square feet.

Simon Rosenberg, a partner with Silver Spring developer Patapsco Park Associates, says he expects that it will take at least a year to 18 months to go through the county approval process. He says he doesn’t have a timeframe for when construction would begin if and when the county approves the plan.

The new homes are an extension of the developer’s first venture in the Mount Hebron neighborhood, Patapsco Park Estates. Properties in the existing 144-home community cost between $500,000 and $1 million.

Rosenberg says he doesn’t yet know how much the new homes would cost. It depends on what the market demands.

“The baby hasn’t been born and everyone has a lot of questions,” Rosenberg says.

Residents who attended a recent Mount Hebron/Orchards Community Association meeting expressed concerns that additional homes would exacerbate traffic woes along Old Frederick Road. Rosenberg says his firm is now undertaking a traffic study to determine the homes' impact.

Though the housing market is currently in the doldrums, Rosenberg says he believes there will be a demand for new homes in the future.

“Housing is not going to stop. It’s just a mater of how fast you can sell.”

Writer: Julekha Dash; julekha@bmoremedia.com
Source: Simon Rosenberg, Patapsco Park Associates 

Lauraville Salon to Cater to Women of Color

A new salon hopes to pamper women in Lauraville with makeup, cosmetics, lingerie, manicures, and pedicures. The 1,000-square-foot Aboni Amour will open Dec. 2 at 4600 Harford Road. 
Owner and Baltimore-native Ebony Tyson launched her makeup line, Aboni Cosmetics, last year and plans to feature the products such as foundation, lipstick, lip gloss and blush at the new location. The cosmetic line was previously sold exclusively online.

"I started the line because it's really hard for women of color to find makeup and colors that compliment our skin," Tyson says.

Tyson had been looking for a site to expand her makeup line. After hearing about the location in Lauraville, she decided it would make a good fit for her business. Tyson says she wants to offer a place for women to be pampered and have fun and wants her customers to see and feel the makeup on their skin before purchasing it.
For Tyson, the path to creating a makeup line and starting her own salon is personal. While in college, Tyson worked as a consultant selling makeup through a company, but the makeup she was selling didn't exist for women of color. Tyson, who is African-American, set out to create her own makeup line that catered to women with a myriad of skin tones.
Tyson taught herself how to create makeup using online tutorials and says her makeup line is all natural, healthy for the skin and safe for use with very sensitive skin.
The company is currently hiring two or three makeup artists.
A grand opening event will take place at the location on Dec. 1 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Source: Ebony Tyson
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Yoga Studio Opens on Charles Street

A new downtown yoga studio wants to help Baltimoreans relax the mind, body and spirit.
Quiet Winds yoga opened last week in a 1,000-square-foot studio and office space at 519 North Charles St. Classes are offered for all ages and skill-levels and range from 30-60-minute sessions for $10 and 100-120-minute sessions for $20. Longer sessions are designed to maximize decompression and relaxation periods, while classes in general extend past general yoga skills and incorporate Reiki, aromatherapy, Kundalini and hypnosis techniques.
Owner Brianna Bedigian says she believes her studio offers a different kind of yoga compared with others in the area.
“At Quiet Winds, there’s more of a focus on the mind than the body, on nurturing and nourishing,” Bedigian says.
Bedigian has practiced yoga for more than 15 years and was inspired by its healing powers that helped her after she was diagnosed with chronic fatigue and in recovering from a car accident. She completed her 200-hour training at an ashram in Colorado and studied with yoga teacher Donna Farhi and has taught classes locally at Charm City Yoga and Prana Studio in Annapolis. She continues to offer Tuesday yoga sessions in the galleries at the Baltimore Museum of Arts where she enjoys teaching with Botticelli behind her.
Bedigian will be adding classes by October 30 with four instructors at Quiet Winds, and plans to hire more as business grows.

Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Brianna Bedigian, Quiet Winds

Pike's Diner Reopens as Crab House and Retail Store

Big changes are in store for Pike's Diner on Reisterstown Road in Pikesville.
The restaurant is now known as Pike's Crab House and Grill and is less of a diner and will have a greater emphasis on seafood. The restaurant still serves prime rib, ribs and fried chicken.

Pike's Crab House and Grill opened after $50,000 in renovations that includes two new bars: one indoors and one outside with an 80-foot awning.

Owner Wil Reich says he has also added a wall dividing the restaurant and bar from a 3,000-square-foot area that will hold a store selling wine, beer and liquor. The 7,000 square-foot restaurant is now 4,000 square feet to make room for the retail operation.

Rich says he hopes that excitement about a new concept and demand for a liquor store will draw more customers. Because of the proximity of many other restaurants on the block, Reich says he believes there is a great demand for customers to purchase beer, wine, and liquor after getting carryout. 

Located at 921 Reisterstown Road, the restaurant is on the same block as Jilly'sMari Luna, and Vernisage Restaurant, among others. Reich also owns Jilly's. 
Dinner entrees such as the crab cake platter top off at $25. The breakfast menu will still be available as well during specific hours.
Reich has owned the movie-themed diner for six years. The business features life-like statues of various movie stars to pay homage to the building's previous life as a single-screen movie theater. It will continue to feature live music on Saturday nights. The restaurant expects to add an additional 10 employees to the restaurant's current total of 20 employees.
Source: Wil Reich, owner Pike's Crab House and Grill
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Mt. Washington Tavern Getting More Than $4M on Renovations

It's been almost a year since Mt. Washington Tavern was gutted by a two-alarm fire, but the iconic neighborhood watering hole will reopen to the public Nov. 7 after more than $4 million have been spent on the renovations.

Destroyed last Halloween, the popular "Cheers" type bar anchored the North Baltimore neighborhood of Mt. Washington. After the fire, Owner Rob Frisch vowed to local news outlets that the bar would return. And it has, with a few design and layout changes. 
Owner Rob Frisch hired SMG Architects to do all of the design of the 10,000 square-foot building for their expertise in the renovation of historic properties. The new tavern will feature three different and unique bar spaces, Frisch says.
The front bar is now one level, which creates a wide, open space. It will have exposed stone and hickory flooring. The area previously called the "Garden Room" will become the "Chesapeake Room," with a waterfowl theme. A fireplace has also been added to the room.
The upstairs Sky Bar used to be a seasonal bar, but it has been converted to an enclosed, year-round bar with collapsible doors and a large, wooden deck. A new kitchen will allow the tavern to add variation to its menu.
Frisch expects to hire an additional 12 to 15 people to add to the tavern’s staff of approximately 70 people. Construction and renovation started on the tavern in January after the building was demolished.
The tavern will host a grand opening party on Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. to kick-off the holiday season.
Source: Rob Frisch, owner, Mt. Washington Tavern
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Group Fitness Studio Flexing its Way to Canton

Hoping to take its private training model to a wider group, a new fitness studio will open Oct. 15 in Canton.

Featuring yoga, pilates, Zumba, barre and classes for children, Inline Group Fitness will open in a 3,300 square-foot space at 720 S. Montford St, says owner Josh Kirk. The location is near Boston Street and Canton's Can Company.

Canton resident Kirk, who owns the business with his wife, started Inline Private Training in 2004 by offering individual and group fitness classes.The company's success led them to establish a larger, separate location for the group fitness division of the business. 

Kirk wants to address the fitness needs of children just don't exercise like they used to and need additional opportunities to get fit, he says. Of the 36 classes offered each week, seven classes will be targeted to children up to age 7. 

"Gym classes are cut way back anyway for the bigger kids, and TV, internet, and video games has cut down on playing outside for all ages – even the youngest. Most importantly kids need to build a relationship with their bodies through exercise that is not sports or play oriented, but enhances those activities and is still fun," Kirk says. 
Inline began as a movement in 2004 as a counter-approach to gym, sports, and boot camp style training that can create injuries and high dropout rates. Canton was selected as the location for the company's expansion because of the support from clientele in the area and the desire on the part of many residents to have a healthy, urban lifestyle, Kirk says.

Reservations for special series classes, including beginner yoga, prenatal yoga and children's ballet, have already begun.

Source: Josh Kirk, INLINE Group Fitness
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Three New Businesses Open in Highlandtown

Three new businesses have opened on South Conkling Street, including a grocery store, clothing shop and art gallery, says Highlandtown Main Street Manager Amanda Smit-Peters.

A refugee-owned Nepalese grocer Druk Grocery, clothing store J and M Fashion Stop and art gallery Anthony's Park Mobile Arts Recycle Center have opened within the last three months. They're the latest to open in the East Baltimore neighborhood, home of arts center the Creative Alliance. The area scored a coup in May when Winston Blick opened an outpost of his popular Hamilton restaurant Clementine at the Creative Alliance.  Community activities, including an art project and a local farmers market, have led business owners to take notice of the area and invest in the neighborhood, Smit-Peters says.
Nancy Jagelka's 1,000 square-foot gallery combines her personal studio with an instructional space for children's art classes. 
Jagelka's work and classes focuses on recycled art projects, or work that uses found materials and repurposes them as works of art. The center will offer classes on a donation basis to youth as young as four years old in the recycled arts. The first in a series of workshops will start on Saturday and will focus on mask-masking. 

It doesn't take a lot of money to make art, Jagelka says, but it is a communal process. With the help of a grant from the Baltimore Community Foundation, Jagelka recently organized an intergenerational mural project at Bank and South Conkling Streets in Highlandtown across from Hoehn's Bakery that was a partnership between her art center, the John Booth Senior Center, and Mosaic Makers Inc.
The mural was dedicated with an event and children's activities on Oct. 6.

Smit-Peters credits pop-up shops and art projects earlier this year, a series of events where businesses and art projects took over vacant spaces in Highlandtown, as a way of generating new business in the area. Smit-Peters says the new businesses leasing space on the block benefited from business owners who saw increased interest in the area and made improvements to their buildings to attract new tenants. The presence of the weekly farmer's market has also attracted new businesses to the area.
"This block feels like what a main street is like. It's nice to see businesses make improvements together," Smit-Peters says.

Following the participation in the pop-up shop project last winter, Jagelka worked with a landlord who she says was very flexible in helping her to establish a permanent location in the neighborhood. 
Source: Amanda Smit-Peters, Highlandtown Main Street; Nancy Jagelka, Anthony's Park Mobile Arts Recycle Center.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Wellness Center Opens Near Hampden

There’s a new place in Woodberry where Baltimoreans can do their downward dog.
Respite Wellness Center opens for business at 2000 Girard Ave. Oct. 1. The Center offers yoga, Reiki, and Zumba classes along with massage and acupuncture sessions.
Certified yoga instructor and massage therapist Angeline Gentile has partnered up with acupuncturist Tiffany Houchins to open Respite. Gentile, a Hampden resident, found the 1,500 square-foot location on Craigslist and thought it was ideal since the space was already set up for a wellness center with three treatment rooms, a yoga studio, a kitchen and reception area.
 “We decorated the space with a Woodberry urban-organic vibe,” says Gentile. Gentile says she plans to work with Artifact Coffee and offer lunch for afternoon yoga sessions provided in the backyard, which she will set up with hammocks as a place to socialize.
Gentile, who also holds corporate yoga classes including sessions at Baltimore City Public Schools for teachers, enjoys providing classes for Baltimore workers like artists, writers and small business owners who need to relax but have tight budgets, and she often offers sliding scale prices.
Respite is currently offering intro specials, like $70 for 90-minute massage sessions that usually cost $100. Walk-ins for yoga classes are $15, and $10 for seniors and students, or 10 classes for $120.
Respite currently employs three acupuncturists and five yoga instructors. There will also be a life coach and licensed social worker later this month. Gentile would also like to add bars and Pilates instructors in the future.

Source: Angeline Gentile
Writer: Jolene Carr

Road Closures in Store for Southeast Baltimore

Travelers in Southeast Baltimore should be on alert for a few extra orange cones over the next year.
New construction is set to begin on several streets and intersections in the area. The improvements are part of the Baltimore City Department of Transportation's $44 million SouthEast Road Reconstruction Program which aims to improve access to the Port of Baltimore, reduce truck traffic on neighborhood streets, and create safer traveling for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians, according to the city's Department of Transportation.
Starting this fall, construction will begin at four new sites:
• Site 1: O’Donnell Street from S. Ponca Street to Interstate Avenue
• Site 2: O’Donnell Street Cut-off at Interstate Avenue
• Site 3: Boston Street from S. Ponca Street to Haven Street
• Site 4: Boston Street & S. Clinton Street
Work on the project will conclude in fall 2013.
Improvements at the locations include street widening to allow for dedicated turn lanes, pavement reconstruction, stormwater management improvements, roadway resurfacing, ADA pedestrian ramp improvement, signal improvements, and landscaping.
The construction could close lanes periodically as well as restrict parking.
Source:  Baltimore City Department of Transportation
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Fells Point Bar Plans $1M Expansion

A landmark Fells Point bar will undergo a $1 million expansion with the goal to open next spring or summer, the owner says.
The Horse You Came in On Saloon plans to take over a 1,700-square-foot space next to their current location on Thames Street to create a new dining and music area, says owner Eric Mathias.
The new space at 1628 Thames St. will be part of The Horse You Came in On, but will feature separate musical acts, its own bar, a dining area, and have will have a slightly different atmosphere and furnishings from the other bar. The expansion will double the bar's space to 3,700 square feet.
The project has received approval from the zoning appeals board and support from the Fells Point Residents Association. Construction on the new space is slated to begin in the next 45 days, Mathias says.
"Our expansion is kind of an example of the amount of work, commitment and passion that myself and everyone else has for the Horse, the neighborhood and what we do," Mathias says.
The Horse You Came in On opened in 1775 and claims to be America's oldest saloon. According to the saloon's website, it is the only bar in Maryland to exist before, during, and after prohibition.
Mathias says the saloon wants the concept of the new space to be relevant to Baltimore and Fells Point, and is considering a prohibition theme, but no final decisions have been made.
Source: Eric Mathias, owner
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Vegan Bakery Opens in Fells Point

No eggs? No dairy? No problem, says the owner of a new vegan bakery in Fells Point. 

Dirty Carrots will open Saturday at 600 S. Wolfe St. in the space formerly occupied by Smedly's, a popular coffee shop and will sell vegan baked goods including salted caramel cupcakes and whoopee pies.

There are three other vegan bakeries in Baltimore, according to VegBaltimore.com
Owner Lisa Muscara Brice says it's her goal to provide a vegan option for Baltimore residents and to show them how delicious vegan food can be.
She calls the Fells Point neighborhood where she set up her bakery a "phenomenal" place with a "great mix of people where I've felt welcomed from the moment I've been down there." 
For now, the bakery will offer carry-out treats and coffee in the same space where Brice bakes all of her treats including wholesale orders for places like Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse and the Baltimore Farmer's Market.
Eventually, Brice hopes to have table serve but she says she's growing slowly.
"Baby steps get you there often," Brice says. Ultimately, Brice wants to continue growing her wholesale business, as well as additional retail locations.
To get her business off the ground, Brice participated in the Women Entrepreneurs of Baltimore Inc. program. The program aided her in writing a business plan and helped her to formalize a concept for the bakery.
Source: Lisa Muscara Brice, owner of Dirty Carrots
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Developer Plots For-Profit Recreation Center In West Baltimore

A former furniture warehouse in West Baltimore's Franklin Square neighborhood could be transformed into a community building and recreation center.
Pending approval from the city's zoning board, a two-story, 33,000 square-foot vacant building at 5 N. Calhoun St. could become a for-profit recreation center, says property owner and developer Cecil Clarke.
The plan comes amid the permanent closures this month of four city-operated recreation centers in West Baltimore due to budget cuts.
Clarke says he believes the area around the proposed recreation center is poised for tremendous growth and revitalization after years of delayed progress on projects like the Red Line and “Superblock."

The warehouse location at North Calhoun and West Baltimore Streets is less than a mile from the University of Maryland Medical Center. Nearby on Baltimore Street, 17 new businesses including a coffee shop have opened in the past two years, Clarke says.
The amount and diversity of development projects makes Clarke feel optimistic about the city's future.
Despite Clarke's optimism, the "Superblock" project has faced hurdles over the past decade and Maryland's highest court has only recently dismissed a lawsuit trying to block the proposed $152 million apartment and retail project near Lexington and Howard Streets. 
Clarke revealed few details about the project and the prospective tenant could not be reached for comment. The project will go before the city's zoning and appeals board Sept. 18.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com
Source: Cecil Clarke, property developer

$16M Assisted Living Complex Breaks Ground in Severna Park

A 140-apartment assisted and independent living facility broke ground last month in Severna Park and the developer of the 140,000-square-foot building plans to open it October of next year.
Brightview Senior Living at 473 Jumpers Hold Rd. is a $16 million project developed by the Shelter Group, which owns and operates Brightview housing. The company operates nine additional facilities in Maryland.
The apartments will be evenly divided between assisted living and independent living housing, and will include 26 units devoted to memory care, says Shelter Senior Development Director Andrew Teeters.
Teeters says there's an incredible need for senior communities in Severna Park as there are no new senior living communities in the area. With an aging population, the company plans to target people over 75 who have raised families in the community and want to live locally.
Some of the features of the facility include a fitness center, a cafe and pub with regular happy hours, a computer center and library with activity rooms. Additional staff such as nurses will be on site to support residents.
Brightview provides market-rate senior housing, and rates in their facilities average approximately $2,500 per month.
Source: Andrew Teeters, senior development director for The Shelter Group
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Towson University Plotting $6M Move of Wellness Center

Towson University is bringing four of its disparate community health and wellness groups into the new Towson City Center building whose anchor tenant moved in this month.
The four centers will take up nearly 47,000 square feet when the university completes its move this week. The Institute for Well-Being is composed of the Center for Adults with Autism; the Occupational Therapy Center; the Speech, Language and Hearing Center; and, the Wellness Center. The university is spending $6 million on the relocation to downtown Towson. 
The university’s radio station WTMD will also move to the new office builiding, making the university one of the largest tenants of the $27 million Towson City Center. Other tenants will include the Bagby Restaurant Group’s farm-to-table restaurant Cunningham’s; anchor tenant MileOne Automotive, which opened doors at the new space Aug. 2; BusinessSuites; and, WMS Partners.
“We’re taking programs that are currently spread out and placing them all together under one roof,” Director of the Institute for Well-Being Sharon Glennen says. “This will allow us to expand.”
The Center for Adults with Autism provides art, music and rock climbing classes to hundreds of autistic clients. The new space will include a 1,500-square-foot model apartment that can be used to prepare autistic adults for independent living.
The Wellness Center, which serves about 325 clients in the community, has a blood lab, a metabolic cart and a Nexus scanner. The roughly 10,000-square-foot new space has a better layout with the exercise studio connected to the other rooms so that staff can better monitor the clients. There are currently six staff members, but more may be added within six to 12 months, Wellness Center Director Scott Fidler says.
The Speech, Hearing and Language Center is the largest of the four organizations, serving more than 1,000. The new space includes two new hearing testing sound booths to make a total of four. There will be two classrooms for fall and spring programs provided to students with disabilities, allowing more attendees than before when the programs were offered at various locations around the community.
The Occupational Therapy will include services for the Stroke Survivor’s Education and Support Group, with a model bathroom and kitchen to retrain stroke survivors in daily living.

Writer: Jolene Carr, 
Source: Sharon Glennen, Towson University 

Park Lane Shopping Center Sold For $7M

The New Park Heights Community Development Corp. Inc. finalized a deal this month to buy the Park Lane Shopping Center in Northwest Baltimore for $7 million and is plotting the center's long-awaited redevelopment.
The nonprofit's president and CEO Will J. Hanna II says it bought the shopping center at 4400 Park Heights Ave. with private funding.

Three years ago, Baltimore City and the Baltimore Development Corporation approved a $4 million bond to be used for the redevelopment of the shopping center as part of the Park Heights Revitalization area. Hanna says he expects work to begin in January and to be finished by the fall. Stores at the shopping center, at the corner of Park Heights and Coldspring Lane, will remain open during the work.

Park Lane Shopping Center is 263,000 square feet in size, a figure that includes a large parking lot in the rear. Hanna says it is 85 percent occupied, and current tenants include a Dollar Store, pharmacy, mattress store and check cashing place. The CDC will be seeking a bank and other new tenants once the renovations are done. 
Hanna estimates the shopping center is more than four decades old and says it looks "dated." The redevelopment of the property will include a refacing of the exterior and a reallocation of the size of the spaces within, to allow for more new tenants. 
The construction of a library on part of the rear parking lot is also under consideration. “The community wants and needs a library,” says Hanna. He says he has not contacted Baltimore City’s Enoch Pratt Library System and a library would most likely be a private venture.
To celebrate the acquisition, the community’s annual “National Night Out” will be held at the Park Lane Shopping Center. Hanna says his group is partnering with the Baltimore City Police Department and city agencies for the anti-crime event.
Source: Will J. Hanna II, New Park Heights Community Development Corp. Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash

Community Bank Moves into Fells Point

Fells Point is poised to get a new community bank this fall.
Seeking to attract more customers, the Baltimore branch of CFG Community Bank, will relocate from Lombard Street in Highlandtown to a branch in Fells Point that will open Sept. 17.
The bank will move into a new, 1,000-square-foot location at 1615 Thames St. in Fells Point where it hopes to attract both residential and commercial clients, Branch Manager Curtis Pope says.
Pope previously launched branches of SunTrust and PNC Bank as a manager.

"I like the community side of banking. I love interacting with people, and building the communities we grew up in," Pope says.
The bank's relocation was inspired by a desire to be in an area that is more affluent and has more foot traffic, Pope says. The branch is currently located in a shopping center. 
Pope says the bank plans to help build the community by lending to businesses with a proven track record, including bars and restaurants that sometimes have a harder time getting loans. While some bigger banks might reject some smaller businesses types outright, Pope says CFG Community Bank plans to work with businesses that show potential.
No additional branches are planned at the moment, but Pope says the company could expand in the future.
The bank has locations in Lutherville and Annapolis, and recently relocated its Lutherville branch from Towson to accommodate for more parking and vehicle traffic.
Source: Curtis Pope, branch manager
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Baltimore Burger Bar Relocating to New Spot on Hampden's Avenue

Baltimore Burger Bar, a restaurant specializing in farm-to-table 'foodie' burgers, plans to relocate  from its present location on the Avenue in Hampden to another spot on the same street with a larger kitchen.

Store Owner Anisha Jagtap says she is spending $50,000 on the move and renovation and hopes to open the new location by the end of September.
The new space is currently zoned as retail space and Jagtap will go before the city's zoning board Aug. 21 for approval.
Currently housed in a two-story, 1,400-square-foot space at 830 W. 36th St., Baltimore Burger Bar will relocate to 840 W. 36th St. to a 1,200-square-foot space.

Jagtap also plans to construct a 166-square-foot addition as well as provide outdoor seating, making the overall space larger and more conducive to table service. The additions and renovations are pending approval and are scheduled to happen along with the restaurant opening this fall. 

Jagtap says that in the current spot, table service is difficult because space is limited downstairs and guests have to sit upstairs. The new location will also have an upgraded kitchen. She says the landlord in the new location was more willing to work with her to make changes to the space, where that hopes to remain for the long-term.    
The Burger Bar sources their food locally and offers "not the average burger," Jagtap says. A current menu item includes "The Squash Blossom," which includes grassfed beef, stuffed squash blossom, smoked bacon, chevre, and strawberry basil ketchup.
At the new location, Jagtap plans to take a "classic French approach" to the menu that is still developing, and offer coursed dinners throughout the week. She also plans to add organic, cage-free chicken wings.
Additionally, Jagtap plans to add wait staff to double her staff from three to six.
Source:  Anisha Jagtap, owner and executive chef of Baltimore Burger Bar.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Marketplace at Fells Developer Sprucing Up Facades on Broadway

Construction on the massive Marketplace at Fells Point project will close sidewalks and parking spaces of the westside of the 600 block of South Broadway Street for the next year as the developer works to preserve building facades in the neighborhood. 
The renovation of building facades or exteriors is part of the development plan to preserve the streetscape that has been there for 100 years, says Drew Dolben, senior vice president for Massachusetts developer the Dolben Co. Inc..
The developer is also constructing an entirely new building as part of the $40 million Marketplace at Fells Point project that broke ground in May. The project will eventually include 159 apartment units and more than 27,000 square-feet of retail space. Dolben acquired the rights to build the housing and retail portion of the project from Dave Holmes earlier this year. 
Dolben expects for tenants and residents to begin moving into the development within the next 15 months with the entire project completed in 20 months.
The smaller building on the eastside of Broadway will open first and the building on the westside will follow shortly after, Dolben says.
Meanwhile, in  Anne Arundel County, the Dolben Co. plans to complete its Village at Odenton Station before the end of September. 

The company has signed a lease with a dry cleaner and in currently in negotiations with a restaurant at the location. The company plans to have a mix of retail similar to a traditional main street including a coffee shop, a nail salon, a hair stylist, a spa  and a total of three restaurants.
Source: Drew Dolben, senior vice president for the Dolben Co. Inc. 
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Canton Gets a New Sushi Bar

There's a new place for Canton residents to indulge their cravings for sashimi and a spicy tuna roll.
The Sushi Place opened this month at 2224 Fleet St. in a space formerly occupied by Tijuana Tacos.
The business is the first restaurant for co-owners Billy Malkin and Eugene McDowell who  work as contractors. Construction and renovation on the location started three months ago and the space has been totally gutted and remodeled as a 23-seat restaurant, says Manager Ron Choi.
The Sushi Place offers of menu of nigiri, sashimi, and specialty rolls, which include a spider roll with deep-fried soft shell crab and spicy mayo and the yellowtail basil roll made with yellowtail and topped with mozzarella cheese, tomato, and balsamic vinegar.
Prices for the specialty rolls range from $12 to $15, and appetizers range from $4 to $7.
Choi says restaurant management aspires to specialize in great customer service and wants to create a friendly, neighborhood sushi bar atmosphere.
"We kind of felt that when people come home they don't want to leave their parking spots, so we kinda felt like this is a good idea. We'll specialize in the people that live around Canton. It's a great neighborhood, great people live in Canton," Choi says.
The restaurant employs 10 and is currently hiring for sushi chefs, delivery people and servers.
The Sushi Place opens daily at 12 p.m., and closes at 9 p.m. except on Saturdays and Sundays when it stays open until 11 p.m.
Source: Ron Choi, manager of The Sushi Place
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Park Surrounding Merriweather Post Pavilion Could Get $2.25M Upgrade

Columbia officials have drafted a plan to enhance the 16-acre park surrounding Merriweather Post Pavilion to make it a year-round destination for more festivals, art shows and community gatherings and not just primarily a place to see outdoor concerts.

The Columbia Association has approved more than $2 million in spending on walkways, a plaza, additional parking and a central gathering area that will eventually include an interactive fountain and space for performances at Symphony Woods. The nonprofit, which manages the planned community in Howard County, plans to use two state grants totaling $250,000 to pay for the redevelopment.

Construction would begin after the annual Wine in the Woods 2013 in May , says Columbia Association Project Manager Jan Clark. The association has presented its plan to the county planning board, which will deliberate on it July 19. The first phase would be completed by spring 2014.

Right now, Symphony Woods’ star attraction is Merriweather Post Pavilion, whose upcoming concerts include My Morning Jacket, Bon Iver and Gotye. Columbia officials hope to offer more recreational uses once the redevelopment is complete.

“We want to make this one of the leading cultural facilities in the mid-Atlantic,” says Mark Thompson, director of downtown redevelopment for Howard County. “That’s our ambition. I’m very confident we can accomplish this.”

New pathways in the wooded area will make Symphony Woods more pedestrian and bike friendly and connect it with adjacent neighborhoods. The Symphony Woods makeover is one of many long-term projects that Columbia officials are plotting to make it look more like the open-air town center in Reston, Va.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Mark Thompson, Howard County; Jan Clark, Columbia Association 

Patterson Park Charter To Complete Construction This Summer

Patterson Park Public Charter School will use $50,000 in state bond funding this summer to complete the construction and renovation of its facilities, says Patterson Park Public Charter School Executive Director Ed Rutkowski.
Specifically, the funds will be used to renovate the facade of the original St. Elizabeth Church on East Baltimore Street facing Patterson Park, a building purchased by the school and used as its cafeteria, gym, library, tech lab and business offices.
Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation through the National Trust for Historic Preservation provided matching funds of $50,000 toward the renovation.
"It's great for the neighborhood to have it looking good…we're restoring it to its former glory," Rutkowski says.
The school acquired the St. Elizabeth Church building in 2008. In 2009, planning began for the expansion and improvement of the school site including renovations to the church and the construction of a new middle school building.
Since then, the state issued $13.7 million of tax exempt bonds, and that money was used for the acquisition of the original church building, and construction of middle school building which includes six classroom, an act facility and a science lab.
The renovation of the facade will complete construction of the school site. The facade renovations required the removal of lead paint, necessitating additional funding to complete the project.
The school removed the form stone on the front of the cafeteria building, and plans to restore the facade to its original appearance. The church was built in 1895.
Representatives from Baltimore’s 46th Legislative District helped the school secure the funding, Rutkowski says.
The school serves 621 students and their families in grades pre-K through 8.
Source:  Ed Rutkowski, executive director of Patterson Park Public Charter School
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Taco and Tequila Spot Opens in Federal Hill

A new business in Federal Hill aims to serve up Mexican fare with tacos and tequila.
Banditos, a 160-seat restaurant opened last week at 1118 S. Charles St. in the space formerly occupied by the Taco Spot, says General Manager Ellen Provins.
Owners Sean White and Andrew Dunlap spent a month renovating the space which includes new flooring and a bar custom made from old tobacco barn wood from Maryland, Provins says.
Provins believes that Banditos' location in the “heart of Federal Hill” near Cross Street Market and across the street from Mother’s will draw a lot of customers.
"Anyone who comes to Federal Hill, comes here," Provins says.
The menu at Banditos consists of tacos, quesadillas and appetizers. Taco options include grilled mahi-mahi with papaya salsa, harissa, and corn nuts and buffalo mushroom tacos with grilled celery, pickled peppers and blue cheese.  The tacos range in price from $6 to $14.
Unlike other restaurants that serve Mexican fare, Provins says Banditos serves "foodie" tacos, or those made with more gourmet ingredients.
Chefs Matt Singer and Cyrus Keefer, the former executive chef at 1524 Gastropub, created the menu at Banditos. Singer serves as the executive chef at Banditos.
The restaurant has an extensive tequila menu including blancos, reposados, anejo, and mezcals. They also offer specialty cocktails like a margarita verde and a Jalisco sour. 
The restaurant employs 27 employees and management expects to hire more employees in the fall.
Source: Ellen Provins, general manager of Banditos
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com 

Columbia Mall Expansion Could Begin in January

Construction on the Mall in Columbia’s expansion could begin as early as mid-January, according to Howard County officials. The 75,000-square-foot addition will add new shops and restaurants at the shopping center that is near 100 percent occupancy.

The makeover will add more outdoor space, landscaping and pedestrian-friendly design so it resembles more of a lifestyle center, says Mark Thompson, director of downtown redevelopment for Howard County.

"Consumers really enjoy that outdoor shopping experience," Thompson says. "Enhanced landscaping areas for sitting are very popular."

Those are some of the components of the Wegmans-anchored Hunt Valley Towne Centre and Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole, though mall officials say Columbia's plans aren't modeled on any specific shoppng center. 

General Growth Properties Inc., the mall's owner, will reopen the original mall entrance so patrons can walk directly from the mall to the pedestrian bridge that connects to the lakefront area across the street, says Mall in Columbia Marketing Manager Michelle Jose.

The mall’s first phase will be completed by the end of 2013. Jose says she does not yet know when the second phase will begin and could not say what new shops the expanded mall will hold. Nordstrom, Macy’s and JC Penney are among the 1.4 million-square-foot mall’s anchor tenants. It also has an Apple store, P.F. Chang’s and Cheesecake Factory.

The construction plans will likely include a smaller L.L. Bean to make room for the new tenants, Thompson says. At about 15,000 square feet, the outdoor clothing and recreation store will be about half the size. 

The mall’s expansion is one component of Columbia’s long-term redevelopment plan that calls for more open, walkable space so it resembles something like Reston, Va.

“The vision is to create a more urbanized area,” Thompson says. “The mall is a key component of downtown.”

The county’s planning board will hold a hearing on the mall’s expansion. The mall plans must also go through the county’s design advisory panel. 

Writer: Julekha Dash; julekha@bmoremedia.com
Sources: Michelle Jose, Mall in Columbia; Mark Thompson, Howard County 

Affordable Housing Push Underway In Park Heights

The state has created a community land trust for the Park Heights area of Baltimore City to ensure affordable housing in an area that is undergoing redevelopment.

The Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation approved the community land trust in April, the first in the state, according to Will J. Hanna II, president and CEO of The New Park Heights Community Development Corp. Inc. The CDC  will administer the trust. The community land trust designates a specific area in the Park Heights community for development of affordable housing for 99 years. Area nonprofits and the CDC are working to redevelop the area with new services and buildings while a new workforce training program is seeking to lower the area's high unemployment. 
Two property owners have donated 100 vacant houses within the community land trust boundaries to the nonprofit to begin the affordable housing effort.
Hanna says he is negotiating with two investors who are interested in buying and redeveloping 50 houses each. He declined to provide names. He is also talking to two banks, SunTrust and Wells Fargo, about closing and development costs.
Hanna says the nonprofit, which was founded in 1999, expects to have a purchase commitment by next month.
 The federal Housing and Urban Development department’s home program determines the selling price for houses in the land trust. Currently, that price is set at $80,000 to $125,000 per property, a rate based on median income and affordability of the housing stock in the community at the time.
Hanna says the community land trust area stretches from Seven Mile Lane to Druid Park Drive. The 100 vacant houses are scattered within this broad area. He estimates the average value of each property at $40,000, with some of the houses little more than shells.
He figures the average cost of redeveloping the houses will be $60,000 each. The nonprofit will retain ownership of the land, and intends to charge ground rent.
Hanna talks about the tax advantage to the property-owners who donated the houses, home-buyers and private investors who redevelop them.
By donating the houses to the community land trust, the property-owners received a tax exemption. Whoever buys a house in the land trust will be exempt from state taxes during the life of the land trust.
For investors who buy the properties to redevelop, 80 percent of the development cost is not taxable. Moreover, the nonprofit can issue IRS certificates to reduce tax liability.
Source: Will J. Hanna II, The New Park Heights Community Development Corp., Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash

Live Jazz and Barbeque Comes to Mount Vernon

Phaze 10 opened this month in Mount Vernon and plans to offer American food, specialty drinks and live entertainment such as jazz and open-mic nights. While the business will start in Baltimore, the company eventually plans to expand to additional locations outside the area, Managing Partner Tony Randall says.
The restaurant currently employs 24 and is hiring for additional bartenders, servers and cooks. 
The multi-level, 6,000-square-foot, upscale restaurant and carry-out grill at 855 N. Howard St. offers Southern food with a Caribbean twist including barbeque spare ribs, salmon and crab cakes, Randall says.
Prices range from $15 to $25 for an entree in the restaurant, and entrees from $5 to $15 in the grill carryout location.
Randall wants to create a location for a mature crowd that enjoys the atmosphere and nightlife of D.C. or Philadelphia, but with the unique spirit of Baltimore and closer to home.
"We tried to create a place that we imagined we'd like to go to," Randall says.
The restaurant will focus on bringing live jazz and neo-soul acts in addition to open-mic nights and comedy. It has live entertainment slated Wednesday through Saturday nights.
A Baltimore native and graduate of Morgan State University, Randall has long been involved with the music and entertainment industry in Baltimore. A 30-year IT professional, Randall and his business associates founded a computer-consulting firm, TT Systems Inc. and the partners have invested in the new business together.
Source: Tony Randall, managing partner of Phaze 10
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Design Center Moves to Station North

A design collaborative composed of university officials and architects have found a permanent home at the North Avenue Market building in Station North.
D Center members moved this month from their temporary home at 218 W. Saratoga St. in downtown Baltimore to the 3,500-square-foot spot at 16 W. North Ave. Money from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts is funding the move and D Center programming, which will include exhibits, lectures and other events that will involve collaboration among artists, architects and academics, says D Center Board President Klaus Philipsen.
During the past year, D center collaborated with numerous partners, including the Creative Alliance’s Art to Dine For series, the Transmodern Festival, and Wide Angle Youth Media. D center has also formed ongoing partnerships with area colleges and universities, who use D center’s exhibition and meeting space to conduct classes and hold design reviews.
D center has also formed ongoing partnerships with area colleges and universities, who use D center’s exhibition and meeting space to conduct classes and hold design reviews.

Home to Liam Flynn’s Ale House and Baltimore Print Studios, the North Avenue Market is undergoing a $1 million makeover. The addition of D Center is the latest development in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District that has seen a number of new restaurants, housing and shops in recent years. One of its long-vacant buildings is getting a Flemish beer-themed restaurant and a Milk and Honey Market.

Writer: Julekha Dash; julekha@bmoremedia.com
Source: Klaus Philipsen

Fells Point Gets a Corner Grocer

Fresh, local produce is now just steps away for many Fells Point residents.  
Fleet Street Market, the brainchild of lawyer-turned grocer Claudette Torbey, opened this month at 2001 Fleet St. with a mission to provide fresh, local and organic foods for neighborhood residents.
For Torbey, the market is half about food and half about community. She saw the need for a neighborhood grocer and decided to pursue it hoping to improve the community along the way.
"I wanted fresh produce within walking distance. I live five blocks away, and I was frustrated to have to get in the car," Torbey says.

The owner says she is trying to source as many local products as possible in the 1,100-square-foot Fleet Street Market.
The store has everything from produce from Calvert Farms to local artisan producers supplying jams, granola and salsas.
There's all frozen pasta from Little Italy, fresh bread from Hamilton Bakery, milk from Trickling Springs Creamery, in addition to meat, cheese, sushi, cupcakes and other desserts. Torbey plans to make sandwiches on-site as well.
One comment on Yelp, a website that allows users to post reviews of local shops and restaurants, describes it as "Whole Foods meets corner bodega."
Tobey says the reaction from the community so far has been extremely positive.
"The neighborhood has really come out…people are saying hello, kids are here. I hope people enjoy shopping when they are here," she says.
Source: Claudette Torbey, owner of Fleet Street Market
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

State Bond Bill Earmarked for Baltimore Design School

A new transformation school in Baltimore has gotten help from the state in designing its future.
Baltimore Design School will use a $200,000 state bond to help renovate the school's future location in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District and add to its operating fund, says Paul Jacob, Chair of the Facilities Committee for Baltimore Design School.
A bond bill passed by the Maryland General Assembly during the 2012 legislative session funded the grant along with a total of $7.5 million in various projects across the state.
Baltimore Design School, a Baltimore City Public Transformation School, focuses on applied design fields including graphic design, fashion design, and architecture. The school currently has classes for grades 6 and 7, but will eventually serve more than 600 students in grades 6 to 12. The school opened last fall and is in a temporary location in the Kenilworth Park neighborhood of Baltimore until the renovations are complete.
The school began renovations at the site at 1500 Barclay St. last month and contractors so far have gutted and cleaned the interior of the building. The building sat vacant for more than 20 years but was most recently used for clothing manufacturing, Jacob says.
Contractors will work to improve the structural frame of the building including exterior brickwork.
Over the next year, the school will go through the basic construction process including laying all of the utility lines, putting up drywall, and refitting the entire building with new windows.
Eventually the school will provide state-of-the-art computer labs and technology to support the ever-changing design fields.
Construction is expected to be completed by May 2013 and is on schedule, Jacob says.
Source: Paul Jacob, chair of the facilities committee for Baltimore Design School.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Hamilton Hatches Retail Incubator

The Hamilton and Lauraville neighborhoods in Northeast Baltimore is known for its eclectic residents and top-notch restaurants.

But soon, it could be known as a place to shop some community leaders succeed in their vision of turning an old firehouse into a launch-pad for budding store owners. 

Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street purchased the old Hamilton Volunteer Firehouse at 3015 Hamilton Ave. last month for $65,000, says Regina Lansigner, director of Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street.
The organization plans to renovate the 3,250 square-foot building and use the first floor storefront as a business incubator. Business mentoring services will be provided to prospective entrepreneurs, and the main street association will help businesses move into a new storefront location in the community.
The first floor of the building will be used as a retail business incubator and office space will occupy the second floor.
The building was recently hit by a car and suffered some structural damage, and Lansigner says renovations and the budget for the project are on hold until the repair estimates are received. The organization hopes to raise renovation funds through events, donations, and grants. 

"Those who are aware of our plans to incubate business are excited that we might be able to fill some of our small storefronts with the type of retail that will be useful to the residents.  We need clothing, shoes, and housewares," Lansinger says. 
Lansigner says a business incubator concept has been in the works in Hamilton for several years. The neighborhood farmer's market has been used as an incubator in the past.
The incubator should be open by next spring, Lansigner says.
Money to purchase the building was raised through appeals to board members, business owners, and neighbors who loaned money to the organization, Lansigner says.
Baltimore Main Streets are a part of the Baltimore Development Corp. and work to revitalize neighborhoods through promoting small businesses in communities across the city.
Source: Regina Lansigner, director of Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street.
 Writer: Alexandra Wilding, Alexandra@bmoremedia.com

$3M Cultural Center Opens in Greektown

It's been almost 14 years in the making, but St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church debuted its multi-level banquet hall and cultural center this week.
The Plateia, which means ‘town square’ in Greek, aims to be the anchor of Greektown, says Jason Fillippou, director of the Greektown Community Development Corporation.
An approximately $3 million investment, the funds for the project were raised through community donations, major philanthropies, a series of fundraisers, and public-backed loans, Fillippou says.
The center, owned and operated by St. Nicholas, is located at 701-703 S. Ponca St.

Greektown Community Development Corp. will assist the church with programming and promotion.
So far, only the first floor, which has a standing-room capacity of 300, is open. The upstairs will be completed soon and seats 500. The Plateia also features a large outdoor arena with a stage to hold outdoor concerts.
The focus of the center will be on community outreach and programs for the local community including cooking, language, and computer classes.
The center plans to partner with local schools to showcase student art, as well as host events such as concerts and poetry readings. Fillippou hopes the center will be the hub for arts and culture in Greektown and expects the project to attract new investment in the community by bringing in new prospective homeowners and parishioners.
The church purchased the land on Ponca Street in 1984, and initially held a groundbreaking for the project in 2000.
Source: Jason Fillippou, Executive Director, Greektown Community Development Corp.
 Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Entrepreneur Opening New Cuban Restaurant Near Hopkins Hospital

A happy hour mojito will soon only be steps away for workers at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Cuban Revolution Restaurant and Bar will join Teavolve and Milk & Honey Market as the newest restaurant in the John G. Rangos Sr. Building at The Science + Technology Park at Johns Hopkins.
Owner Edward Morabito plans to open the 106-seat restaurant serving Cuban fare Sept. 1. He is investing $938,000 in the new business, according to testimony at the Baltimore City Liquor License Board hearing where the restaurant received conditional approval for its liquor license.
The items on the menu range from tapas to pressed sandwiches and wraps to entrees. Some of the highlights include handmade empanadas, steak chimichurri, garlic shrimp, and seared sea scallops. The restaurant will also offer live jazz music.
A longtime government official turned restaurateur, Morabito owns and operates two additional restaurants in Providence, R.I., and Durham, N.C., with similar concepts and menus. 
More than 30 people will be employed at the location and hiring will include people from the community surrounding the restaurant, Morabito says. The science and technology research park has come under fire for not including enough people in the surrounding community in its development plans. 
Morabito calls Baltimore a 'dynamic city,' and was drawn to the collaborative aspect of the redevelopment of the area around the Johns Hopkins medical campus.
Just north of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Rangos Building is part of a more than 80-acre urban redevelopment project under the direction of the East Baltimore Development Inc. which will include housing, retail and office space, research labs, and more.
Source: Edward Morabito, owner and CEO of Cuban Revolution Restaurant and Bar
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Chef Turning Hampden Grocery Store Into Restaurant

Once a grocery store, The Food Market's rebirth as a restaurant will happen just after Memorial Day.
After months of construction and a complete gutting and renovation, The Food Market plans to debut chef Chad Gauss' concept of chef-inspired comfort food in approximately two weeks in its new industrial-modern space, says General Manager and Co-owner, Elan Kotz.
Kotz describes the menu as known and approachable food, but executed from a chef's perspective. Dishes that Gauss prepared at other locations include Kobe beef meatloaf, linguine with crab meatballs, duck-fat fried cashews with fried catfish served on micro greens, and Heath bar crunch bread pudding. 
The 3,000-square-foot restaurant on the Avenue will seat 90 people, and will include a 14-seat bar. The restaurant plans to offer free valet parking and a dinner menu available until 1:00 a.m. The restaurant will employ approximately 45.
Prior to being a restaurant, The Hampden Food Market was a grocery store that also sold beer and lottery tickets.
Kotz and Gauss signed a lease to take over the space in June.
Kotz and co-owner Gauss were drawn to Hampden's originality and personality in a place that Kotz says is as much of a neighborhood as it is a destination for visitors. The boutiques, restaurants, and lack of big-box retailers gives Hampden a down-home feel, Kotz says.
Baltimore Magazine recognized Gauss, formerly executive chef at City Cafe, as the Best New Chef of 2010.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com
Source: Elan Kotz, general manager and co-owner

Vintage Clothing Shop Opens in Hampden

A new Hampden shop selling vintage clothing and threads from smaller designers hopes to appeal to both men and women in their search for that perfect T-shirt or unique accessory.
Hunting Ground opened last month in a 170-year-old church on Falls Road near the Avenue in Hampden.
Co-owners Jessica Soulen and Jenna Hattenburg have years of experience working in retail and decided to open a store where both men and women can shop together. They were looking to fill a void in Baltimore.
"Guys especially have a hard time finding stuff in Baltimore," Soulen says.
The 1,100-square-foot Hunting Ground aspires to create a casual atmosphere where shoppers can find interesting items, and neat accessories. Additionally, the shop buys clothing from people looking to sell items. The store's owners sell items that fit into a modern wardrobe versus having costume pieces, Soulen says.
The shop wanted to work with small designers to acquire its new clothing. The shop carries no big labels or anything you could find at the mall, Soulen says.
Soulen says that she and Hattenburg wanted to open a shop in Hampden to be close to a major shopping destination for Baltimore locals, but they didn't want a narrow space on the Avenue for their shop. Instead, they waited for a spot with more space and ended up with what Soulen describes as a very unique, warm, and inviting location with big windows and lots of light.
After acquiring the property, Soulen and Hattenburg worked on building out the space starting in November.
"We did everything ourselves from building racks to painting. Everything is custom-made," Soulen says.
The new project for the owners is to establish their e-commerce site to extend their sales to an international market.
Source: Jessica Soulen, co-owner of Hunting Ground
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Blue Agave to Reopen After Renovations

 Federal Hill's Blue Agave will have a different feel when it reopens later this week.
New owners took over the Mexican restaurant last month and are wrapping up renovations to the 2,500-square-foot space. The two-week renovations began last week and during that time the restaurant has been closed, General Manager Adam Pashkevich says.

As part of the changes, the restaurant plans to open up the space by tearing down some walls, and making the exterior more inviting for customers. The restaurant will get new floors, a complete bathroom renovation, and a new bar surface, Pashkevich says.

While the changes won’t expand the space, Pashkevich says he believes more open space will create a better experience for guests. There will also be more server stations for faster food delivery.

Some changes will happen on the menu, such as adding fajitas, taking away less popular items, and some lower prices on food items, but the restaurant will stay true to its original concept of authentic Mexican food. The restaurant will also be open daily instead of Tuesday through Sunday. To accommodate the changes, some new staff will be added to the restaurant’s current staff of 20.

The new management previously worked at Macky’s in Ocean City, and each member of the team brings over 10 years of restaurant experience, Pashkevich says.
Source: Adam Pashkevich, general manager
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Entrepreneurs Promise Farm-to-Doorstep Produce

Two local entrepreneurs want to bring the bounties of Maryland's farms to your neighborhood, maybe even your doorstep.
Here's the concept: Friends & Farms goes out and gets the freshest produce, meat, dairy, and seafood from farms and suppliers around the region. Then they divide it all into a basket that you pick up once a week from a designated location in your area. They also plan to provide direct delivery to homes, says co-founder Tim Hosking.
In the works since last fall, the venture will launch May 31 with the first basket pick-up in the week of June 4. The company will start in Howard County and plans to expand to locations as far north as Baltimore City and County, and as far south as Northern Virginia, Hosking says.
Baskets will include two proteins, a myriad of fruit and vegetables, milk and bread every week, and occasionally items like eggs, bacon, herbs and spices. The food will have been picked, baked, or harvested within 24 to 48 hours.
They are priced more along the lines of Giant as opposed to Whole Foods or a farmers' market, Hosking says.
Hosking says he thinks that quality, freshness, and price will differentiate Friends & Farms from other retailers and markets. Large baskets designed for a family of four will retail at $76, while smaller baskets for two will run at $51. 
The company recently leased a 4,500-square-foot office and warehouse space in Columbia as its distribution base. It currently employs four full-time employees with plans to hire additional part-time workers.
Hosking and co-founder Philip Gottwals have both worked in areas of community development, food and agriculture and finance. They are hoping to better connect busy, working people with high-quality, fresh foods straight from the farm and sea.
"We really want to work in the food system, and many aspects of it aren't functioning well, some may even say it’s broken. We are putting our money where our mouths are with this project," Hosking says.
Friends & Farms will host a launch event May 31 at Boordy Vineyards in Hydes.
Source: Tim Hosking, co-founder of Friends & Farms
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Construction Begins on Columbia's Newest Performing Arts Venue

Two area theater organizations will have a new home in Columbia late this year. 

Construction on the new 10,000 square-foot Red Branch Theatre began last week, with approximately 40 community members attending its groundbreaking ceremony, says Ray Weiss, the theatre's publicist.
Red Branch Theatre Company, a theater company founded in 2008, and Drama Learning Center, a theater education organization, will both be housed at the new location near the intersection of Red Branch Road and Old Annapolis Road in Columbia.
The project is being financed by the Sanford Companies Inc. 
Owner and artistic director of Red Branch Theatre, Stephanie Lynn Williams, hopes the space will provide additional resources for the community of Howard County in the area of dramatic and performing arts.
Williams also owns Drama Learning Center, which offers year-round production and acting classes for youth from grades pre-K to 12.
The new space will include a 200-seat theater, a reception area, a backstage area, and two rehearsal spaces, Williams says.
With the expansion, the Drama Learning Center plans to hire additional teaching staff, and the theater company will hire a new technical director for the space, Williams says.
The space will also be available to rent, which will address the demand for performing arts space in Howard County, says Weiss.
Sources: Ray Weiss, publicist for Red Branch Theatre; Stephanie Lynn Williams, owner and artistic director of Red Branch Theatre.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Station North Flea Market Kicks Off Saturday

You just might find that treasure you've been looking for this weekend at the opening of the Station North Flea Market.
The season opens Saturday, May and will run on the first Saturday of every month until October at the corner of Lafayette and Charles Streets in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.

Previously the market was held on the unit block of East North Avenue, but the decision was made to relocate the market from a busy and loud location on North Avenue to an area better scaled for a flea market, says Ben Stone, executive director of the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. 

One of the main goals of the market, Stone says, is to create a vibrant community event that engages locals, visitors, and artists alike. The market helps to build community for both older residents of Station North, as well as younger artists and students.  

This year, the flea market will commission some small, affordable pieces of artwork. The goal was to create a way for people to get quality art rather inexpensively, Stone says.
Other offerings include antiques, vintage clothes, crafts, and household items.
Stone expects at least one or two food trucks selling their culinary creations on-site.
If the weather is good, tours will be offered of the murals painted recently as part of the Open Walls Baltimore project. The opening of the flea market will also coincide with the opening of the Maryland Film Festival.
For vendors interested in participating in the flea market, the market is first-come, first-served. The cost is $20 and tables can be rented on site for $10.
Send an email to info@stationnorth.org to reserve a space in advance.
Source:  Ben Stone, executive director of the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Highlandtown Businesses Push For Outdoor Seating

Highlandtown businesses want to offer you a seat outside this summer.
Six restaurants and businesses in the Highlandtown Merchants Association submitted applications to the city's zoning board this month for outdoor table seating. The move is an attempt by area businesses to boost sales and beautify their neighborhood with outdoor seating.
The applications for outdoor seating were part of a plan, two years in the making, to create a more inviting space for diners and shoppers in the area, says Jody Rosoff, treasurer of the Highlandtown Merchants Association and owner of Docs Smokeshop on Eastern Avenue. Rosoff wants outdoor seating in front her business. 
Other businesses that want to have outdoor seating include the Creative Alliance, Filippo's Pizzeria, Mi Viejo Pueblito, and Little Morocco Cafe.
Rosoff says that outdoor seating for restaurants and other businesses will add dimension to storefronts and create a more "charming" atmosphere. The tables will also invite guests to stay around to shop and dine.
The Highlandtown Merchants Association paid for the $250 initial permit fee per business to encourage businesses to participate in the outdoor seating campaign, Rosoff says.
But the total cost of having outdoor seating is likely an investment of several thousand dollars for the expense of the tables and additional yearly fees.There are 300 businesses that are part of Highlandtown Main Street
As part of the permitting process, each merchant had to present a document with the proposed outdoor seating in front of their business. Each business will go before the city’s zoning board to determine if the business will be allowed to have outdoor seating. The city’s zoning board has yet to set a hearing date on applications from merchants in Highlandtown.

The Creative Alliance was already putting together an application for outdoor seating when they were approached by the merchant's association. The performing arts venue wanted to add outdoor table service for its new restaurant project in partnership with Clementine. Clementine at Creative Alliance, a full restaurant, will open May 17, says Andre Mazelin, theatre and rental manager at the Creative Alliance. 
Sources: Jody Rosoff, treasurer of the Highlandtown Merchants Association and owner of Docs Smokeshop on Eastern Avenue.
Andre Mazelin, theatre and rental manager at the Creative Alliance. 
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Hamilton's Clementine Restaurant Opening at Creative Alliance

One of Hamilton's best known restaurants is expanding to East Baltimore.
Clementine, the Hamilton restaurant focused on farm-to-table foods and meals will open a new location, Clementine at Creative Alliance May 17, says Clementine owner and chef Winston Blick.
The 49-seat bistro will be a slightly more upscale and 'downtown' version of Clementine in Hamilton, which does rustic comfort food, Blick says.
The restaurant will be a partnership between The Creative Alliance and Clementine, with Clementine managing the restaurant. The Creative Alliance built out the restaurant and recruited Clementine to fill the space, Blick says.
More than four years ago, both parties were interested in a partnership, but Blick thought the space was too small and Blick ended up opening Clementine in a space in Hamilton. Ironically, the restaurant is the same size as the original Clementine prior to its renovations two years ago, Blick says.
"The great thing about this is that we have the chance to do it again," Blick says.
As for the cooking duties, the current sous chef at Clementine, Jeremy Price, will take over as chef at the new location. Jill Snyder, formerly of Woodberry Kitchen and Top Chef season five contestant, will become the executive chef at Hamilton's Clementine, Blick says.
Blick says he's slightly removed himself from daily cooking to work on menus and bringing in fresh, local produce and meats for his restaurants from area farms.
Some of the farms that partner with Clementine include Prigel Family Creamery, The Zahradka Farm, and the Hamilton Crop Circle.
Blick's other venture, a market called Green Onion, will open this week or early next week up the street from Clementine in Hamilton. The market will carry local dairy products and meats, dry goods, and other locally made products like laundry detergents, jams, and jellies. The market will also bring in chefs such as Snyder to offer classes and workshops.

Blick told Bmore Media that the shop is a cross between Atwater's and Milk and Honey Market
Sources: Winston Blick, owner of Clementine
Andre Mazelin, theatre and rental manager at the Creative Alliance.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

New Mt. Washington Restaurant to Serve Craft Brews and Global Cuisine

Matt Lallo didn't plan on opening up a restaurant when he moved down to Baltimore from Philadelphia two years ago with his wife to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
But retired life didn't quite suit him.
"I don't golf," Lallo says.
After owning three restaurants in the Philadelphia area over his career, Lallo needed a project.
Lallo's fourth restaurant, the Blue Sage Cafe and Wine Bar, is expected to open June 1, pending the permitting process, at 1604 Kelly Ave. That's the former location of The Falls in Mt. Washington.
Lallo says his family used to have brunch at the Falls when they visited Baltimore and when the restaurant closed, he decided to look into leasing the space. He describes Mt. Washington as a very family-oriented area.
The cafe will feature a "pan-global" menu with craft beers, offering light breakfast with good coffee, in addition to a lunch and dinner, Lallo says.

He hopes to provide a neighborhood-based cafe that creates extraordinary food.
The 2,400-square-foot space reminds Lallo, he says, of a corner restaurant in Manhattan.
While the restaurant was pretty much move-in ready, Lallo says they rearranged it to give it a clean look. The restaurant also plans to hire at least 12 employees when they open.
In Philadelphia, Lallo operated the Purple Sage Cafe. He also served as the director of operations for Culinary Concepts Inc., a catering company. 
Source: Matt Lallo, owner of the Blue Sage Cafe and Wine Bar
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Candy Shop Moving From Harbor East to Downtown

Shoppers in the Inner Harbor will soon be able to satisfy their sweet tooth with treats like old school candy and chocolate shaped like crabs.
The Best of Luck Candy & Gifts, a specialty nostalgia candy and gift shop, will relocate May 1 from Harbor East to a larger location at 601 E. Pratt St. in the Power Plant entertainment complex, says owner Alexis "Lucky" Thompson.
In the new, approximately 900-square-foot location, the business will have double the space and plans to add a coffee bar in addition to new candies, gifts, custom gift baskets, and additional room for events such as birthday parties. Thompson also plans to offer more Baltimore-themed candy and gifts.
Thompson expects the new location will receive great visibility from both foot and car traffic.
Raised in Baltimore, Thompson says she always dreamed of owning a candy shop. She recently moved back to Baltimore with her husband after working in marketing in New York. The store opened at its previous location on 612 S. Exeter St. last October.
The store underwent a month of remodeling as part of a relaunching of the store's brand.
While the company has no plans for further expansion in the near future, they do plan to do more events such as bachelorette parties and showers. The company also recently added four new employees for the new shop, Thompson says.
Source: Alexis "Lucky" Thompson, owner of The Best of Luck Candy & Gifts
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, Alexandra@bmoremedia.com

More Than 800 Volunteers to Provide No-Cost Home Repairs

A local nonprofit hopes to bring Christmas in April for some area residents in need of home repairs.

On April 28, more than 800 volunteers will come together for Rebuilding Together Baltimore’s annual Rebuilding Day to provide no-cost repairs for more than 30 homes, says Bonnie Bessor, executive director of Rebuilding Together Baltimore.

The focus of this year’s efforts will be on the neighborhoods of Pigtown in Baltimore City and Colegate in Dundalk.

Between donated materials and volunteer labor, the total investment for the day’s repairs is between $300,000 and $600,000, Bessor says.

The organization and its volunteers take a customized, whole-house approach to repairing homes, and all repairs are made with the intention of making them warmer, safer, and drier, Bessor says.

Between 15 to 20 volunteers work in each house to make repairs that can range from rebuilding a front porch to adding new stairs in a basement. Prior to rebuilding day, an assessment is done to determine the nature of the repair work. Houses can get anywhere between 10 to 50 repairs, Bessor says.

While the organization works year-round doing similar repair work and community beautification projects, Rebuilding Day is the organization’s signature event. After selecting a target community through an application process, the group works with volunteers to do outreach into communities to identify people in need of repairs by speaking at community association meetings and going door-to-door with handouts, says Bessor.

In order for repair work to be done, individuals must meet minimum income qualifications, and own their own home. Additionally, they must either have children living with them, be over 60, or have a disability. Bessor says that individuals often meet all three requirements.

While the organization is in good shape for unskilled volunteers for Rebuilding Day, they are in need of skilled volunteers with plumbing, electrical, or carpentry skills, Bessor says.

“As a volunteer you get to see the immediate results of the work you’ve done, and you’re part of a larger movement to help homeowners stay in their homes, helping to preserve affordable homeownership,” Bessor says.

Many of the volunteers for Rebuilding Day come from the organizations corporate sponsors, some of which include Booz Allen Hamilton and Stanley Black & Decker.

Other community partners for Rebuilding Day include Paul’s Place in Pigtown and the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps based in Perry Point, Md.

For more information about volunteering with Rebuilding Together Baltimore contact AmeriCorps Outreach Coordinator, Sally Dorman, at sally@RTBaltimore.org.

Source: Bonnie Bessor, executive director of Rebuilding Together Baltimore
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

IT Support and Hair Braiding Come to Hamilton-Lauraville

From children’s hair-braiding to a market stocked with locally grown produce, Hamilton-Lauraville is home to several new and soon-to-open businesses.

Last week, Kinkx Studio, a kid-focused braiding studio opened at 2926 E. Cold Spring Lane. The studio serves children aged three to 14. The studio relocated from Charles Village from an office building to attract more traffic, says owner and CEO, Angelique Redmond.

The studio recently offered a deal on Living Social and more than 100 deals have been purchased, Redmond says. The studio also provides free movies, music, games, and refreshments for its young clients.

Redmond invested about $10,000 in the move, and the business currently has three employees.

On May 1, Supportech MD Inc. will open at 4517 Harford Rd. The business provides computer support for small businesses and will also offer drop-off computer repair services. Previously located in Towson, the relocation gives the business more space for the price, says owner John Lemonds.

For those looking for fresh, local food options, the long-anticipated Green Onion Market will open this spring, likely in May, says Regina Lansinger, director of Hamilton Lauraville Main Street.

Last year owner Winston Blick compared the market to a cross between Atwater’s and Milk & Honey Market.

Regina Lansinger, director of Hamilton Lauraville Main Street
Angelique Redmond, owner of Kinkx Studio
John Lemonds, owner of Supportech MD Inc.

Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Kabob Joint Opens in Abacrombie Inn

It's out with the symphony crowd and in with the college kids for Midtown's Abacrombie Inn

Managers of the inn hope a new restaurant taking over the space formerly occupied by Abacrombie Fine Foods and serving Middle Eastern fare will appeal to a growing student population in the area.
Alladin Kabob opened this month in the Abacrombie Inn at 58 W. Biddle St. in Midtown, and managers hope that the new restaurant will be a hit with the student community at nearby University of Baltimore and Maryland Institute College of Art, says Todd Powell, managing director of the Abacrombie Inn.
The 2,400-square-foot restaurant serves Middle Eastern fare and also offer a hookah bar, Powell says.
Alladin Kabob has leased the space and made significant renovations to the former Abacrombie Fine Foods. With its proximity to Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, the previous restaurant was a more upscale, fine dining experience often appealing to concert-goers, Powell says.
Powell is optimistic about future of the restaurant along with other businesses that have been redeveloped along nearby Charles Street.
The fate of the restaurant may be in the hands of college students who will soon be neighbors with the inn. 
This fall, the University of Baltimore will open a 323-bed residence hall at Maryland and Biddle Streets just next to the inn.

Source: Todd Powell, managing director of the Abacrombie Inn
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

Chesapeake Bay Trust To Award Green Grants

The Chesapeake Bay Trust is considering applications from towns and cities in Maryland and neighboring states to spur economic development, energy efficiency and sustainable communities. The trust is awarding a total of $400,000 in environmental grants to the Free State and Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. 
The grants are for a program called Green Streets-Green Jobs-Green Towns. The program was introduced in 2011, a partnership of the trust, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Maryland.
This year’s funding more than doubles the amount available in 2011, when 10 cities and towns received grants from $25,000 to $35,000 each for their projects. A maximum of $100,000 may be awarded for a project.
Janna Davis, the trust’s acting executive director, expects to award eight to 12 grants in 2012, depending on the amount requested for the project. The winning projects will be based on EPA criteria.
Previous projects ranged from storm water improvement to local roadways, planting trees and creating rain gardens, using energy efficient sources for street lighting, instituting recycling measures and creating and training people in green jobs.
“We want people trained in green jobs so they can then become the experts” in that field, says Davis.
The grant program is open to local governments and nonprofit organizations in urban and suburban communities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed area.
Source: Janna Davis, Chesapeake Bay Trust acting executive director
Writer: Barbara Pash

Charm City Yoga Opens Pikesville Location, Will Offer Children's Yoga Classes

Pikesville residents looking to perfect their downward-facingdog and sun salutations have a new place to harness their yogic potential. Earlier this month, Charm City Yoga opened its sixth location in Pikesville.
Their new 1,000-square-foot studio, located in the Commerce Center on Reisterstown Road near Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, will offer classes for beginners and the seasoned yogi.
Charm City Yoga will debut yoga workshops for children at the Pikesville location this week. Another unique offering will be a workshop focused on a traditional Jewish form of self-study called Mussar, which share similarities to with the yogic practice of svadhyaya, says director of operations for Charm City Yoga, Allison Korycki.
After announcing their planned expansion to Pikesville, Korycki says the company was flooded with emails asking for kid’s yoga, so the company obliged. Two workshops for children will be offered on Sundays at the studio.
The company's growth has been unexpected but Korycki says the company is excited to be offering yoga in more diverse communities.
Despite their start as an urban studio, the company's three newest studios have been in more suburban areas.

Charm City Yoga opened its first location in 2000 in Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood. Since then, the company has expanded to six locations including Federal Hill, Fells Point, Serverna Park, and Towson.

An ancient Indian discipline, yoga has exploded in popularity in recent years in the United States. Practitioners of yoga say the practice offers a variety of health benefits from building strength to improving mood and self-confidence. 
The ultimate goal of Charm City Yoga is to help people transform their lives, Korycki says.
The company employs over 100 instructors throughout their locations in the Baltimore area. Charm City Yoga is registered through the Yoga Alliance as a yoga school. The yoga teacher training program, which graduates new instructors every eight months has facilitated much of the company's growth, Korycki says.
"We have teachers ready to teach and give back to the community, that's what fosters growth… and we get emails from people all the time to open a studio in their neighborhood," Korycki says.

Source: Allison Korycki, director of operations for Charm City Yoga. 
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com

National Main Streets Conference Headed to Baltimore

Baltimore's neighborhoods will have a staring role in next month's National Main Streets Conference, as Charm City becomes the first city to host the conference twice. The yearly conference was last held in Baltimore in 2005.
Conference organizers hope to send a message to attendees that small businesses and main streets across the country are thriving and local development is on the rise. The conference, titled "Rediscover Main Street,” will be held April 1-4 at the Baltimore Hilton.
Baltimore's small-scale development, from urban gardens to craft brewing, will be featured throughout the conference. Organizers plan to use the city as a "living laboratory" for what makes successful neighborhoods, says Mary de la Fe, program manager for conferences at the National Trust Main Street Center.
Baltimore has been successful in creating and sustaining innovative practices within neighborhood economic development and the hope of the conference is to highlight some of the success that Baltimore has had, de la Fe says.
"We really try to make sure we're showcasing the city, the preservation efforts and the uniqueness of the city," de la Fe says.
The conference, an initiative of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will be co-hosted by Baltimore Main Streets, part of the Baltimore Development Corporation.  Currently, 10 main streets exist within Baltimore including the Fells Point and Hamilton-Lauraville Main Streets.
The main street model was developed in the 1980s as an approach to economic revitalization and has since been implemented in over 1500 communities across the nation. The approach focuses a combination of historic preservation, supporting and recruiting businesses, organizing a volunteer base, and neighborhood promotion.
Around 1,300 professionals who work in local economic development are expected to attend the conference that will provide educational tours and workshops to help managers of main street programs maintain or create vibrant, sustainable downtowns.
Amy Cortese, journalist and author of "Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit from It," will provide the keynote address.
While the majority of the conference is open to registered participants only, a free overview of the main street approach will be held Sunday, April 1, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m at the Baltimore Hilton and is open to the public. 

Source: Mary de la Fe, program manager for conferences at the National Trust Main Street Center.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding

Carroll Hospital Center to Break Ground Next Year on Cancer Center

Plans are moving forward on a new $27 million cancer hospital at the Carroll Hospital Center that officials say will better serve patients in the area.

The hospital plans to break ground on the project in early 2013 and open in 2014. The hospital is currently seeking donations for the center and plans to finance the center with cash and ongoing donations, says Sharon Sanders, assistant vice president for service line management for Carroll Hospital Center.

Last year, the hospital took over the operations of a neighboring care unit in preparation for its growth in cancer care. 
The Westminster hospital plans to expand an existing building into a 42,500-square-foot facility that will serve cancer patients seeking treatments and rehabilitation all under one roof, Sanders says. 
The expansion will provide services to area residents that have to travel, sometimes daily, to downtown Baltimore for treatment.
The combination of a rise of cancer rates as well improvements in treatment has lead to an increase in population of patients needing medical care. To support the increase, the hospital must expand and improve, Sanders says.
Some of the planned additions to the center include the addition of eight new chemotherapy chairs and a second machine for radiation. The hospital wants provide wellness and disease management programs, and classroom spaces for educational programming.
Carroll Hospital Center acquired their current cancer center in July 2011 from US Oncology.
Source: Sharon Sanders, assistant vice president for service line management for Carroll Hospital Center.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding

Middle Eastern Restaurant and Smoke Shop Planned for Fells

A Baltimore businessman will open a Middle Eastern restaurant and smoke shop in Upper Fells Point, not far from the Brass Monkey SaloonAsahi Sushi and the Latin Palace.

Akram Ayyad will invest between $20,000 and $50,000 to open a 1,200-square-foot restaurant and smoke shop at 1611 Eastern Ave. The plan awaits approval from the city's zoning board, expected next month. Ayyad has yet to determine a name for the venue. 
Ayyad hopes to create a upscale casual venue that will serve light fare falafel and hummus, soft drinks and desserts. The business will also offer tobacco products such as cigars and possibly hookah. No alcohol will be served.
No major renovations are expected even though the building was used formerly as a clothing store, Ayyad says.
Ayyad plans to run the business with his brother. Together the brothers also operate additional business ventures such as a deli, and a small towing company. Ayyad moved to Baltimore 12 years ago from Jerusalem to join his extended family that has been here since the 1950s.
Baltimore’s zoning board rejected Ayyad’s initial application because unlike tobacco shops, smoke shops are not listed as permitted or conditional uses in Baltimore.
Smoking in restaurants has been banned in Baltimore since 2008 and is currently regulated by the Baltimore City Health Department. However, some businesses can apply for exemptions from the indoor smoking ban such as retail tobacco establishments.
A retail tobacco establishment can qualify if at least 75 percent of its revenues come from non-cigarette tobacco products, and the entry of minors is prohibited.
If the appeal goes through, tobacco products will make up 75 percent of sales at the yet unnamed restaurant with the remainder on food, Ayyad says.
Pending approval for the zoning board and other city agencies, Ayyad hopes the establishment will open in late May.
Source: Akram Ayyad, business owner
Writer: Alexandra Wilding

Second Pop-Up Gallery Headed to Highlandtown

Soon another vacant storefront in Highlandtown will temporarily house an art gallery.
It's all part of the Pop-Up Gallery project, a partnership between The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at UMBC, and the Highlandtown Arts and Entertainment District.
The second of three Pop-Up Gallery projects in the neighborhood will have an opening March 3 from 5 p.m to 7 p.m. at 3216 Eastern Ave. just east of the Creative Alliance. The gallery installation will run through March 17.
University of Maryland Baltimore County graduate student Lexie Macchi is curating the three Pop-Ups. That is according to Sandra Abbott, who is also a member of the Highlandtown Arts District and curator of collections and outreach at UMBC's Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture.
The concept of pop-up spaces is to take an unoccupied commercial space and temporarily convert it into a thriving business or art space. Organizers hope to stimulate interest in the property and the neighborhood, feature local artists, and create networking opportunities for local businesses. Pop-Up shops and galleries have gained traction recently across the country as a creative way to generate business in vacant spaces.
With the Highlandtown Pop Up, the goal is to partner with merchants and landlords to bring attention to spaces to stimulate rentals and sales, Abbott says.
Abbott says organizers of the project want to highlight the possibilities of Highlandtown and increase traffic to the area.
In the case of Baltimore's Pop-Up project, the first gallery opened in December and ran for six weeks on South Conkling Street.
Funding for the project is provided in part by UMBC. The Highlandtown Community Association helped obtain funding for the project as well, Abbott says.
Charm City Land Co. LLC donated the space for the project.
Organizers have been invited to speak about the project at the National Main Streets Conference in April in Baltimore.
"We want it to go viral and then everyone will be doing it," Abbott says.

Writer: Alexandra Wilding
Source: Sandra Abbott, member of the Highlandtown Arts District and curator of collections and outreach at UMBC's Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture.

Developer Plotting $1.2M Apartment Complex in Hampden

A local developer plans to spend $1.2 million to open a three-story, 12-unit apartment building in Hampden by the end of the year.
Eric Dashner, owner of Finer Remodeling in Roland Park, will renovate a 3,000 square-foot property in Hampden that dates back to the 1880s. He hopes to construct an 8,000-square-foot addition, pending approval from the city's zoning board. Dashner expects to break ground within four to five months on the property, located just blocks from The Rotunda
The developer says he hopes that the apartments will appeal to young, single professionals who want to live in a neighborhood that offers great restaurants and live music in a friendly, tight-knit community. The apartment market is one of the few bright spots in real estate these days as some former homeowners who can't get loans are renting instead of buying.
Dashner says he plans to restore the facade of the building at 3849 Roland Ave. and anticipates renovating the remaining shell of the building to create one and two-bedroom apartments. The rental prices of the market-rate apartments are expected to run from $900 to $1100 per month, Dashner says. The plans also call for 14 off-street parking spaces.
The developer says he left the plans "loose" so as not to be pigeonholed into a single idea, and will meet Tuesday evening with the Hampden Community Council for their input.
Dashner has renovated two other rental-housing units in Hampden, one at 3649 Keswick Rd. and another on Dellwood Avenue.

Source: Eric Dashner, owner of Finer Remodeling, Inc.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding

Brewpub in the Works for Camden Yards

Camden Yards is hoping for a home run off the field this season. 

The stadium is building on the winning combination of beer and baseball by creating a brewpub and on-site brewery inside Camden Yards. 

The new restaurant planned for Oriole Park at Camden Yards will be a family-friendly brewpub with a sports focus and will open around opening day this spring, says Delaware North Cos.' Food and Beverage Director Adrian Sedano. Delaware North Cos. provides food, beverage and retail merchandise services at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
While the name and menu of the restaurant is still being determined, the brewpub plans to brew its own beer on-site and offer a traditional brewpub menu including burgers and sandwiches. Sedano says he can't yet disclose the number of seats or square footage. 

Oriole Park at Camden Yards hopes to become a year-round destination by creating concession areas that overlook the baseball field. In late December, the Stadium Authority requested $1.8 million from the state's Board of Public Works to renovate picnic-areas and create a year-round "park-like destination."  
Delaware North Companies Cos., a hospitality and food service company headquartered in Buffalo, is receiving consulting on the restaurant from Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc. a corporation in Chicago that owns restaurants in Illinois, Nevada, Washington, D.C, Minneapolis and Arizona. It owns Bethesda French bistro Mon Ami Gabi
The restaurant has started the hiring process and expects to employ between 30 and 50 employees at its location at 333 W. Pratt St.
Sedano says he thinks the future brewpub will be a place where families can come to enjoy a great sports atmosphere, in-house brewing, and a view of Camden Yards.
The brewpub concept with on-site brewing is the first of its kind for Delaware North Cos., Sedano ays.

Source: Adrian Sedano, food and beverage director for Delaware North Companies
Writer: Alexandra Wilding

North Avenue Market to Get $1M Facelift and New Tenant

The building that houses the WindUp Space and Cyclops among others in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District will soon be ready for its close up.
The façade of the entire North Avenue Market building will undergo a $1 million renovation starting in April, says Carolyn E. Frenkil, co-owner of the space.

Used bookstore Cyclops will renovate to make way for a coffee shop. The market is also poised to add a new tenant within the next two months in a vacant gallery space. Frenkil expects the yet unnamed tenant to plan various events, shows, and exhibits to bring additional visibility to the market.
The North Avenue Market building, built in 1928, also houses Liam Flynn's Ale House and Baltimore Print Studios.
"You can't tell a book by its cover, but if it doesn't have an interesting cover, who's going to open it?" Frenkil says.
Some of the planned renovations include a new paint job, additional lighting for the building, and opening up long-covered exterior windows.

Cyclops' renovations are expected to begin when the façade renovations commence, Frenkil says.
The Reinvestment Fund, a Philadelphia-based developer, is working with the owners of the North Avenue Market to finance the renovations.
Frenkil hopes the facelift will help to generate business for all of the establishments in the Station North Arts District as part of the resurgence in development of an area has long been affected by crime, vacancies, and urban decay. 
"When people drive up Charles and hit North Avenue the lights will be on and people will say 'Something is happening on North Ave'," Frenkil says.
Frenkil wants North Avenue to develop organically into a unique destination arts district where customers will find the products of the creative energy of Baltimore's residents.
"Why mimic someone when you have an opportunity to create something?  We want to create a destination, not a drive-by. If we do what others do, what makes us different? Why come to North Ave.?" Frenkil says. 

Writer: Allie Wilding
Source: Carolyn Frenkil, North Avenue Market

Massachusetts Firm to Develop Marketplace at Fells

A Massachusetts firm has acquired the rights to develop the retail and apartment component of Marketplace at Fells Point, a $40 million project that is now slated to break ground April 1.

Drew Dolben, senior vice president for the Dolben Co. Inc., says he has acquired the rights for the massive urban redevelopment plan from South Broadway Properties LLC's Dave Holmes. The Dolben Co. has a regional office in Odenton. 

Holmes says he is still involved with the project and is leading a $5 million renovation of the Broadway Market. The recession made financing more complicated and the company realized it needed a partner to see the project get built, he says. With a partner leading the retail and apartment building, South Broadway Properties can focus on the restoration of the market.

The developers of the Marketplace at Fells Point plan to transform the 600 block of South Broadway Street into a "vibrant gateway to historic Fells Point." The transformation will include shops, restaurants and a pedestrian plaza. Streetscape improvements will be a public-private partnership with the city spearheading the design and planning of a pedestrian space called the Square at Fells Point. Planning for that space is currently underway with construction expected to start later this year, Holmes says. 

The extensive project, in the works for several years, also received some federal stimulus funding. But construction on the project, initially slated for January 2011, has been delayed. The group revised it's original plans that included office space and a parking garage after the recession to simply retail and residential space. These changes lowered the total cost of the project.

The company is waiting on the city to issue building permits for the project at 600 S. Broadway and expects the development to take between 18 to 20 months to complete.
The project is expected to include 159 apartment units and over 27,000 square-feet of retail space. The company is working with CBRE Group, Inc. to attract food outlets and boutique retailers to lease space.
The apartments will be a mixture of one and two bedroom units, and the rents will be consistent with other prices in the area, Dolben says.
"We think the Fells Point neighborhood is one of the best residential addresses in Baltimore and a very vibrant area," Dolben says.
By acquiring the Marketplace at Fell's Point project, the company wanted to expand its portfolio in the Washington-Baltimore corridor.
The company currently has two projects in construction in Maryland, the Village at Odenton Station and the View at Mill Run in Owings Mills. Between developments in Virginia, Maryland and the New England area, the company maintains 11,000 apartment units, Dolben says.
Writer: Allie Wilding
Sources: Drew Dolben, Dolben Co. Inc.; Dave Holmes, South Broadway Properties LLC 

Townhomes Planned Near Museum of Industry

South Baltimore could see a new townhouse development if an area developer's plans get approval from Baltimore's zoning board.
A planning consulting firm is working with a local developer who plans to build townhouses near Key Highway in Riverside. The townhouses are expected to carry price tags around $400,000.

Baltimore's AB Associates submitted plans for zoning approval from the city for 14 three-story townhouses with rooftop decks, and most with two-car garages at the intersection of Harvey and Lawrence Streets bordering Locust Point. The site is one block from the Baltimore Museum of Industry. 
The plans will go before the city's Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals Feb. 7.
If approved, construction could begin on the townhouses this year, and hit the market early next year, says Al Berry, principal of AB Associates. Berry says he's working on behalf of developer Ray Jackson, who owns the property.
Berry believes the location near the proposed townhouses just off Key Highway and close to the exit for I-95 will appeal to many homebuyers. Additionally, Berry expects the price point to suit buyers looking to move into the city.
"The neighborhood has always been strong for development and housing value," Barry says. He says he doesn't yet know the development cost. 
The land where the proposed townhouses sit belonged to the late Vincent Rallo, owner of Rallo's Restaurant. The planned site served as a parking lot for Rallo's Restaurant.
The homes will be designed modern industrial style and will all face onto an extensively landscaped interior court, says Berry.
Architectural work for the proposed project is being handled by SETO Architects LLC in Mt. Vernon, Berry sats.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding
Source: Al Berry, principal of AB Associates

Consignment Shop Opens in Belair-Edison

Ernestine Brown is on a mission to help women look their best without having to break the bank.
Brown opened Sister Ernie B's Sassy Seconds, a consignment shop in the Belair-Edison neighborhood this month to provide an alternative destination for women who want to look good while on a budget.
"It's hard to go out to our favorite stores, Macy's, Nordstrom, so we're being wiser with our spending. But it doesn't change the fact that we like to look good," says Brown.
In addition to a consignment shop, Sister Ernie B's Sassy Seconds is a women's handbag and accessory boutique.
Brown hopes to woo savvy, working women with her shop at 3428 Belair Rd., in the Belair-Edison Main Street district.
"I'm excited because Belair Road is a busy main street in the city and we have a little something for everyone with a price base that everyone can afford," Brown says.
The shop is currently seeking consigned items for a period of 90 days. If the clothing sells, the price is split evenly between the consigner and the store. Items that do not sell can be returned or donated to the women's recovery house that Brown runs, Sister to Sister, Heart to Hrt
Additionally, Brown plans to use the consignment shop as a training opportunity for some of the women involved in the recovery house to reestablish job skills.
A Baltimore native, Brown has long shopped at consignment stores around the city, and aspires to educate more people about the value of consignment shops.
She sees her business as an extension of her desire to help others change their lives for the better. In time, she also hopes to provide jobs for youth in the neighborhood at the shop in which she invested all of her savings.

Writer: Alexandra Wilding
Source: Ernestine Brown, owner of Sister Ernie B's Sassy Seconds

Waverly Library Plotting $3M Renovation

A $3 million renovation is planned for the Waverly Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, though it still needs approval from Baltimore’s Urban Design and Architecture Review panel.
The panel heard renovation plans for the 41-year-old Waverly Library this month from Margaret Martin, chief of design and construction for Baltimore's department of general services, and Stephanie Schaefer, regional manager at Buchart Horn, Inc.
The panel was disappointed by the plans and recommended several changes to the architects including the creation of a grand reading room with lots of natural light.
Martin and Schaefer were asked by the city's design panel to make changes to their renovation plans before returning to the panel.
But despite the panel’s feedback, the Waverly library remains on track for renovations, library spokeswoman Roswell Encina says.
She says the library is reviewing comments from the community and the design panel on its plans and will release more details on the renovation soon.
The library sits at the intersection of 33rd and Barclay Streets in a neighborhood that the city is targeting for urban renewal projects.
The proposed floor plan calls for a multipurpose room, a reading room, and separate adult and child's reading areas. Planned green spaces around the library are intended to encourage the community to plant gardens, Martin say.
"We want to get the community to take ownership of the library like with the Waverly Farmer's Market," he says.
The Waverly library was last renovated in 1986. Other branches of the Enoch Pratt Free Library that have recently been renovated include Edmondson Avenue, Orleans Street, and the Southeast Anchor Library. The Canton branch is the next to be updated, and is currently closed for renovations. 

Writer: Alexandra Wilding
Sources, Roswell Encina, Waverly Library; Margaret Martin, Baltimore City 

Developer Turning Vacant Station North Building Into Restaurants, Studios

A nonprofit developer has purchased a vacant building on North Avenue that it hopes to transform into restaurants, galleries, artists studios and theater space within three years.

Jubilee Baltimore is talking to Joe Squared’s Joe Edwardsen about the possibility of his opening a Mexican restaurant at the 10 E. North Ave. property, Edwardsen and Jubilee President Charlie Duff say. The developer is also in talks with Single Carrot Theatre, which has been scouting for a space with more seating capacity.

Jubilee Baltimore Inc. bought 10 E. North Ave. from Greater Grace Church at a public city auction this month for $93,000.  The state estimates the land and 67,000-square-foot building is worth more than $2 million, public records show.

The eventual transformation of the three-story building will require a major rehab, Duff says. He doesn’t yet have a cost estimate as to what the renovation will cost.

“North Avenue needs cool things happening,” Duff says. “There isn’t enough space in Station North – that’s why we bought this building. We want to make it one of the key arts and entertainment building in Baltimore.”

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Charlie Duff, Jubilee Baltimore; Joe Edwardsen, Joe Squared

Theater Veterans Scout Station North, West Side for New Performance Space

Two theater managers are scouting the west side and the Station North Arts and Entertainment District for a performance space that can hold its new arts organization.

J. Buck Jabaily and Philip Arnoult have launched Baltimore Open Theatre with the goal of reaching younger audiences through the use of social media. (See related story). The Robert W. Deutsch Foundation has committed $50,000 in seed money and a $150,000 challenge grant for the venture.

Jabaily, one of the founders of Single Carrot Theatre, says he needs a 7,500-square-foot space that can seat 160. Other requirements include tall ceilings -- at least 16-feet high -- and no pillars that would obstruct the view. Since Baltimore Open Theatre will host plays, dance and other performances, they need a spot that is flexible and can be adapted for different uses.

“We’re open to non-traditional spaces,” Jabaily says. The space doesn’t have to be a theater currently, though it should be easily converted into one without a huge capital investment.

“We don’t have the finances to gut something,” he says. Arnoult, who founded the Theatre Project 40 years ago, says he hopes to commit to a space in the next month.

Writer; Julekha Dash
Sources: Buck Jabaily and Philip Arnoult, Baltimore Open Theatre.

Y Opens Childhood Development Center in Towson

The Y of Central Maryland has opened a new childhood development center in downtown Towson, replacing a 20-year-facility.

The Y is leasing the 6,100-square-foot space at 301 W. Chesapeake Ave., which was renovated by Timonium’s Obrecht Properties LLC. The new space houses six classrooms and can serve 80 children, ages two to five.

It is one of more 20 early childhood sites the Y operates, including Head Start programs, that serve more than 1,500 children. The move is one of several Y initiatives to expand resources for families throughout Central Maryland.

“We continuously look for ways to improve our curriculum and help young kids be better prepared to enter kindergarten,” Y Chief Marketing Officer Sara Milstein says.

Last year, the Y expanded its Carroll County facility and opened a new one in Parkville.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Sara Milstein, Y of Central Maryland

Restaurant Owner Looking for Catering Space in Fells

The owners of Waterfront Kitchen in Fells Point hope to expand their “mission-driven” business with a new catering operation next year.

Waterfront Co-owner Charles Nabit says that in January he will begin hunting for a space for the new venture. He is looking for a spot that is approximately 1,500 square feet.

The catering firm may rely on ingredients from the Living Classrooms Foundation’s Baltimore Urban Gardening with Students (BUGS) program, which serves inner-city kids. The 175-seat Waterfront Kitchen sources its ingredients from BUGS. It also hired several employees from Living Classrooms’ Project Serve, which provides job training to at-risk men and women.

Nabit says he is not sure how many the catering operation will employ because it is still in the planning stages. He and partner Michael Klein spent $1.5 million to open Waterfront Kitchen in the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park. Patrick Sutton Interior Design outfitted the space.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Charles Nabit

Living Classrooms Opening New Community Center

A community center providing services and programs for underserved families will open in a historic rehabilitated firehouse Thursday in the Perkins Homes community.

Called the P.O.W.E.R. House, which stands for Providing Opportunities to Work, Expand, and Rise, the community center is the latest facility created by the Living Classrooms Foundation. It is located at 316 S. Caroline St., just north of Fells Point.

With 688 units, Perkins Homes is one of the largest public housing developments in Baltimore City. Having a community center in the middle of Perkins Homes without having to travel outside of the neighborhood will be an asset, says Living Classrooms CEO James Piper Bond.

“It’s going to be a beacon of hope for the community, and we’re honored to lead the way,” Bond says.

The project is six years in the making, and a partnership between the public and private sectors. The house has received support from a variety of foundations and companies including Commercial Interiors and SunTrust Bank, Bond says.

Some of the amenities include multipurpose rooms for community meetings, after-school activities, a computer lab, and a financial literacy center. The Perkins Homes Tenant Council will also have an office in the space.

Living Classrooms will a offer after-school and summer programming on site for youth in education and career development, civic development, health and life skills and the arts.

The P.O.W.E.R. House is located within Living Classrooms’ Eastside Target Investment Zone, an initiative that seeks to provide opportunities and create safer neighborhoods for underserved communities through education and workforce development.

Writer: Alexandra Wilding
Source: James Piper Bond, Living Classrooms

Veterans Group Leads Cleanup of Oliver Neighborhood

In cooperation with One Green Home at a Time, a home rehabilitation company building energy-efficient homes in East Baltimore, the Pat Tillman Foundation brought over 90 military veterans to the Oliver neighborhood for a clean-up day on July 11. Pulling weeds, clearing debris, and straightening fences, "We pretty much covered the majority of the Oliver community," says Earl Johnson, Executive Director of One Green Home at a Time and himself an Army veteran.

An estimated 200 more volunteers from local non-profit organizations The 6th Branch, Baltimore BORN, One Green Home, Baltimore Love Project, and the Veteran Artist Program joined nearly 100 Tillman Military Scholars in their day of service coordinated with the Pat Tillman Legacy Summit, which is named for the former college and professional football star who was killed by friendly fire while serving as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan.

One Green Home at a Time and its financial arm, Bridge Private Lending, purchased 40 homes in the Oliver neighborhood from the city in May and is currently coordinating funds for complete renovation. The 3-window-wide rowhomes are eligible for historic tax credits and will be standardized to share energy-efficient floor plans and other design features.

Writer: Sam Hopkins
Source: Earl Johnson, One Green Home at a Time

Living Classrooms Moves Forward on East Baltimore Projects

In June, the Living Classrooms Foundation broke ground on a new youth sports field in Patterson Park with the support of Under Armour and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. As that project moves forward, Living Classrooms is adapting a historic two-story firehouse on Caroline Street in the Perkins Homes community.

The first floor of the firehouse will include a multi-purpose space for after-school programming to add to the Carmelo Anthony Youth Development Center on East Fayette Street. The first floor will also include a community technology center. The second floor will hold offices for Living Classrooms staff and the Perkins Homes Tenant Council as well as conference rooms and space for community health fairs.

Perkins Homes is part of the Living Classrooms Target Investment Zone in East Baltimore, and the firehouse will be renovated with the help of participants in Project SERVE, Living Classrooms' initiative to lower recidivism and raise the employment rate among those re-entering Baltimore communities following incarceration.

Writer: Sam Hopkins
Source: Talib Horne, Living Classrooms

Knott Foundation Sees Tax Credit Boost to Non-Profit Investment

The head of Baltimore's Marion I. and Henry J. Knott Foundation says an expansion of Maryland's million-dollar Community Investment Tax Credit program to include corporate donors could help non-profit organizations expand their physical investments in the city, in addition to boosting programming.

"When I directed Light Street Housing, we used the CITC program to develop new relationships and garner tens of thousands of increased donations," says Knott Foundation executive director Greg Cantori.

Under the CITC, organizations that have received grants from foundations or other grantmakers can distribute tax credits to donors in order to spur more strategic giving. Donors, in turn, receive a tax credit that can be added to state and federal deductions the same year, or rolled over for as many as five years.

Donors can find non-profit organizations that match their giving goals and have available tax credits on the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development's GIVE Maryland site, here: http://www.mdhousing.org/givemaryland/

Writer: Sam Hopkins
Source: Greg Cantori, Knott Foundation

City Opens New Homeless Shelter

A 275-bed homeless shelter opened this month in Baltimore, part of the city's 10-year plan to end homelessness.

The 30,000-square-foot Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Housing and Resource Center at 620 Fallsway holds a cafeteria, day rooms, job training, and a convalescent care program.

Funding for the $8 million construction comes from the state, city, and foundations, including the Abell Foundation, the France-Merrick Foundation, and the Weinberg Foundation.

The city has set up a website, endinten.org, to outline its 10-year-plan to end homeless, says Kate Briddell, director of homeless service programs for Baltimore City. The plan to try to address the leading causes of homelessness, including lack of affordable housing, unemployment, and access to healthcare services.

Addressing the problem is tough in this economy when many people are out of work, Bridell says.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Kate Bridell, Baltimore City

Nonprofit Building $10M Homeless Shelter in East Baltimore

A Baltimore nonprofit recently broke ground on a $9.2 million homeless shelter facing Patterson Park.

Dayspring Baltimore is constructing a 43,000-square foot building at 1125 N. Patterson Park Ave. that will house 22 families, four Head Start classrooms and offices for the nonprofit's 37 employees.

Funding for the facility comes from the New Market Tax Credit equity, city and state funds, the Weinberg and Abell Foundations and PNC Bank.  

Dayspring Programs Inc. provides housing, substance abuse treatment an support services to homeless families. It has an operating budget of around $4.4 million and serves 600 individuals.

Site Work Begins on Turf Valley Main Street-Style Shopping Center

Infrastructure work has begun on Turf Valley Town Square, a retail and restaurant complex in Ellicott City anchored by a Harris Teeter grocery store to open next spring.

Developed by Greenberg Gibbons Commercial Corp., the open-air shopping center will contain features similar to the developer's Hunt Valley Towne Centre, with a "Main Street," landscaped gardens, piped-in music, and an outdoor fireplace.

Located near Route 70 and Marriottsville Road, the 150,000-square-foot shopping center is near Turf Valley resort and Turf Valley Overlook homes.

"We are absolutely looking forward to it being an important part of the Turf Valley community," says Gina Ellrich, a spokeswoman for Turf Valley owners Mangione Enterprises LLC. "It's an extension of what's there."

The grading and sewer installation has been completed and construction will begin in the fall, Ellrich says.

Turf Valley Town Square will contain a number of smaller specialty shops. Neither Ellrich nor Tom Fitzpatrick of Greenberg Gibbons would name other shops slated for the development.

Anchored by a Wegmans, Hunt Valley Towne Centre's shops include California Pizza Kitchen, Best Buy, Carraba's Italian Grill, White House/Black Market, and Ann Taylor Loft.

The Turf Valley site will also include a separate office complex, 160,000 square feet of office space and 150 townhomes and 192 condominiums built by the Keelty Co. of Stevenson.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Gina Ellrich, Ellrich Communications

$11M Apartment Complex to Break Ground at Station North

An $11 million apartment building will begin construction in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District this year, bringing more life to an area undergoing revitalization. 

The 74-unit Lillian Jones apartments will break ground at the end of the year and take about one year to complete, says Jim French, president of French Development Co. The Baltimore real estate firm, which specializes in nonprofit and community-sponsored projects, won the development rights after the Baltimore Housing department issued a bid.

The Station North district is home to the Charles Theatre, Tapas Teatro, and a number of galleries and theater troupes, including Single Carrot Theatre and Annex Theater and Gallery. It will lose one of its anchors, Everyman Theatre Co., when the group moves to Baltimore's west side next year.

Located at Greenmount Avenue and E. Hoffman Street, the apartments replace vacant land and homes.

"The idea is to provide better housing for people in the community and create more life on the street by having people living on Greenmount Avenue," French says. The economic conditions aren't strong enough to build market-rate housing, but hopefully in time they will be.

The apartments will include one, two, and three-bedroom units. They are available to individuals and families who pull in 50 percent below the Baltimore metro area media income, or around $41,000 for a family of four.

Designed by Cho Benn Holback+Associates Inc., the four-story building includes a courtyard and exterior made of brick, cement and glass.

Sources: Jim French, French Co.; David Benn, Cho Benn Holback+Associates
Writer: Julekha Dash

$2M Inner Harbor Park to Break Ground Next Month

A $2 million downtown park will break ground next month, adding more green space and public art to the Inner Harbor.

Members of the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance and the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore Inc. hope that the park will enhance the area's appeal for families when it opens in the fall.

"There needed to be a better park this side of town," says Emily Hiller, a board member of the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance. "There's no outdoor space for children to play."

Baltimore artist David Hess has designed two sculptures on which children can climb. Located in front of the Columbus Center, Pierce's Park will contain a willow tunnel created by New York artist Bonnie Gale. The one-acre park will also feature a musical fence that plays different musical notes when struck.

Half the money for the park came from the state. The rest came from individuals, foundations, and corporations.

The park is named after Hiller's father, Pierce John Flanigan III, who died of a brain hemorrhage in 2008 at age 66. Flanigan was president of his family's transportation infrastructure business P. Flanigan & Sons Inc.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Emily Hiller

Nonprofit to Open $2.3M Facility for Homeless Veterans

A nonprofit is building a center to treat homeless veterans with drug or alcohol addictions in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of West Baltimore.

The center at 1611 Baker St. will cost the Baltimore Station $2.3 million to build and acquire the property, executive director Michael Seipp says.

The west Baltimore site currently houses a former Catholic Rectory and two rowhomes. The 16,800-square-foot Baker Street Station will be the nonprofit's second treatment center.

Funding for the center comes from four sources: the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Abell Foundation, and the France-Merrick Foundation.

The Baltimore Station is also hosting a fundraiser April 14 in Federal Hill's Cross Street Market to raise money for the new center.

Many military troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are being asked to serve multiple tours of duty, which puts them at a higher risk of getting post-traumatic stress disorder, Seipp says. And many of these men turn to alcohol or drugs, which, in turn, can lead to homelessness.

Veterans represent about one-quarter of all homeless people, twice that of the civilian population, according to the center's statistics.
The Baltimore Station employs 28 and has a $2 million annual operating budget.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Michael Seipp, Baltimore Station

Sinai's Inpatient Pediatric Unit to be Completed in a Year

Sinai Hospital's multimillion-dollar inpatient pediatric unit, which began in July, is expected to be finished in April 2012.

The expansion will give patients bigger rooms, more privacy and enhance patient safety that will hopefully reduce hospital readmissions, says

Dr. Joseph Wiley, chairman of the pediatrics department at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Children's Hospital at Sinai.

The new inpatient center is part of a $30 million pediatric expansion that included a $2.3 million outpatient center. It will also include a children's diagnostic center, to begin construction once the inpatient facility is completed next year.

The new inpatient center will contain 26 rooms, up from 16 rooms. Rooms will be about 50 percent larger, at 350 square feet, and contain pull out beds and tables where families can eat. Each room will be private, allowing caregivers to consult with patients' families in the privacy of their rooms, Dr. Wiley says.

"We're adding a lot of features will enhance the overall experience for families," Wiley says.

Each room will contain a pharmacy lockbox where medicine will be delivered personally, reducing the risk of medication errors.

Sinai is part of LifeBridge Health, which includes Northwest Hospital, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital and Courtland Gardens Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. The Baltimore Hospital employs 4700.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Dr. Joseph Wiley, Sinai

Donna's Owners Envision Wine Bar, Tapas Menu, When Mount Vernon Restaurant Reopens

The owners of Donna's Coffee Bar hope to reopen their Mount Vernon shop by the end of the year following a five-alarm fire that devastated the historic building at 800 N. Charles St.

And when it does reopen, diners can expect tapas and a wine bar on the menu, co-owner Alan Hirsch says.

He expects reconstruction work on the restaurant to begin in October and be completed in three months. With the inside totally gutted, the owners have to redesign the restaurant and go through the permitting process all over again.

"If you go to that corner, it's pretty depressing," since the Dec. 7 fire, Hirsch says. "Part of the community is gone."

Meanwhile, the business owner says he expects renovations on the building to begin as early as June, based on meetings he has had with the building's developer, Dominic Wiker. The former home of Indigma and MyThai restaurants now has no roof and requires extensive electrical and mechanical work, Hirsch says.

Wiker could not be reached for comment.

Hirsch says he does not yet have an estimate on the cost of the renovations.

Serving wine and high-end beer, along with small plates, will help Donna's keep up with current market trends for European-style restaurants, Hirsch says. The restaurant is known for its extensive coffee menu and Mediterranean fare, including a roasted vegetable salad and hummus and pita.

The motive behind the wine bar was not solely money, as the profit margins are higher in coffee drinks, Hirsch says. Rather, the owners felt they needed to refresh the restaurant concept.

"We needed to update Donna's and do more."

It has other locations at the University of Maryland Medical System, the Village of Cross Keys, Charles Village and Columbia.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Alan Hirsch, Donna's

Charleston Owners Could Spend $1M+ on New Roland Park Restaurant

The owners of Pazo, Cinghiale, Petit Louis Bistro, and Charleston restaurants could spend upwards of $1 million on their latest venture in Roland Park.

Tony Foreman and Cindy Wolf are negotiating to lease a space at 4800 Roland Ave. in the same shopping center as Petit Louis. Foreman says he expects they will finalize the deal in the next couple of months. The 100-seat restaurant would open in fall or winter.

Foreman wouldn't reveal the restaurant's name or dishes it would serve until they are closer to opening. The menu will be lower priced than that of Petit Louis, where entrees cost between $12 and $44. The idea, Foreman says, is to attract repeat customers in the neighborhood, as opposed to Petit Louis, which is more of a destination restaurant.

The investment in the new venue would be "nowhere near on the scale of Pazo and Cinghiale," which were much more expensive to build, Foreman says.

The restaurant will be located in two adjacent spots previously occupied by Roland Park Bakery and Deli and Long and Foster. A press release from Foreman Wolf says that a "casual, lively interior will take over the former deli space, with exposed beams and vaulted ceilings."

The sour real estate market has prompted some shop and restaurant owners to take the opportunity to snatch good deals. But Foreman says that's not the main reason he's opening the new spot.

"The reality is that I get itchy every couple of years. You have an idea and you want to express it."

The restaurant will employ 15.  

Foreman Wolf also owns wine stores Bin 604 in Baltimore and Bin 201 in Annapolis.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Tony Foreman

Maryland Nabs $44.2M from Feds for Homeless Programs

As part of its ongoing effort to reduce homelessness across the country, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency has awarded more than $44.2 million in funding to keep the doors of 208 local homeless assistance programs in Maryland open and operating in 2011. The grants announced last week form a critical foundation for the Obama Administration's Opening Doors strategy, the nation's first comprehensive plan to prevent and end homelessness.

"There is a tremendous need on our streets and in our shelters among those experiencing both long-term homelessness as well as families confronting a sudden economic crisis," says HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "These grants are the life blood for thousands of local housing and service programs that are doing the heavy lifting to meet President Obama's goal of ending homelessness."

Last September, HUD announced that it would renew funding through HUD's Continuum of Care programs to existing local programs as quickly as possible to prevent any interruption in federal assistance. HUD will award funds to new projects later in the year.

HUD's Continuum of Care grants provide permanent and transitional housing to homeless persons as well as services including job training, health care, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and child care. Continuum of Care grants are awarded competitively to local programs to meet the needs of their homeless clients. These grants fund a wide variety of programs from street outreach and assessment programs to transitional and permanent housing for homeless persons and families.

Source: U.S. Housing and Urban Development
Writer: Walaika Haskins

New School Opening for Students With Social and Communication Challenges

Parents will soon have an additional choice for their children who have trouble communicating or with social interaction: the Auburn School will open in September 2011 with a mission to grow the social and academic potential of bright students with challenges in the areas of communication, social skills, pragmatic language, and organization, as is the case with children diagnosed with Asperger's syndrom, ASD, PDD-NOS, NVLD or ADHD.

Marjorie Hoffman has been selected as the founding Head of School for its Baltimore Campus. She has 40 years of experience as an educational professional, serving diverse schools in a variety of capacities.

"I am enthusiastic about the possibilities that will exist for students with social and communication challenges now that The Auburn School is a part of the network of outstanding educational institutions in Baltimore," says Hoffman. "My experience with starting a new school energizes me and give me confidence that this unique school will meet with great success. I look forward to speaking with interested families in the coming weeks."

Hoffman joins an experienced senior leadership team at the Auburn School that includes Auburn's founder and CEO, Erik Heyer, Auburn's EVP, Marina Major, and the Heads of Auburn's Herndon, VA and Silver Spring, MD campuses, Linnea Nelson and Dr. Sandra Kleinman. Collectively, these education leaders have nearly 100 years of experience designing, leading and managing high quality programs and services for students with a wide range of learning needs.

A founding teacher of The Krieger Schechter Day School, Hoffman then served as the first head of its middle school.She also served as head of school at Valley Academy, a middle and upper school for students with language-based learning differences in Baltimore, and middle school head at Garrison Forest School. She has been actively involved with the Association of Independent Maryland Schools, working on professional development offerings, the AIMS annual conference and most recently as facilitator for a series of teacher training workshops. She received her B.S. in early childhood education from the University of Maryland, an M.Ed. from Johns Hopkins University, and a certificate of administration and supervision from Towson University.

Source: The Auburn School
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Lenny's Deli Bringing Slice of "Corned Beef Row" to Inner Harbor

Devotees of Baltimore's Corned Beef Row will soon have a new reason to go to the Inner Harbor. Lenny's Delicatessen will open in the Pratt Street Pavilion of Harborplace, according to General Growth Properties, owners of Harborplace and The Gallery. The delicatessen will occupy approximately 3,100 sq. ft. It's scheduled to open Spring 2011. 

The Lenny's Deli Harborplace location will offer breakfast all day along with a full array of deli meats, fried chicken, wraps, salads, and baked goods for dining in, catering, and carry out. Owner Alan Smith and his father, Lenny Smith, recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of Lenny's in Owings Mills. The second location, on Baltimore's famed Corned Beef Row, opened in 1991. The Harborplace location will be the third in the Baltimore area.

"We felt the Inner Harbor area needed a place where tourists and business people could go for a good corned beef sandwich," says Alan Smith. "We are excited to be opening at Harborplace, where all visitors to Baltimore make sure to stop during their trip here. We look forward to serving the Baltimore business community and those who stop on their way to Orioles and Ravens games."

General Properties also revealed that Francesca's Collection, a boutique specializing in fashion forward women's clothing, accessories and gifts, will join the lineup of stores for spring 2011. The new store will be approximately 800 sq. ft. and will be located on the first floor of The Gallery. It will be the first Francesca's in the Baltimore area.

Source:General Growth Properties
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Philly's Carmel Realty Lands West Lexington Street ENP from BDC

The Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) has agreed to an Exclusive Negotiating Privilege (ENP) with Philadelphia-based Carmel Realty Associates for the redevelopment of properties in the 100 block of West Lexington Street (101, 103, 114, 116-120 and 124 N. Liberty Street) on Downtown Baltimore's west side. Carmel Realty, a current owner of properties on West Lexington Street, was the only respondent to a BDC Request for Proposals (RFP) for these three development sites, comprised of five vacant properties.

With the acquisition of the properties, Carmel Realty plans a mixed-use development of ground floor retail space with apartments on above floors.

"Carmel Realty Associates -- and particularly its CEO Jerald Goldfine -- has long been committed to the city's vision for the Westside revitalization," says BDC President M.J. "Jay" Brodie. "We look forward to our continued partnership as the improvement of the Westside moves ahead."

The development sites are part of the Market Center Urban Renewal Area:an area bounded by Madison Street to the north; Cathedral and Liberty Street to the east; Pratt Street to the south; and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to the west.

Source: Baltimore Development Corporation
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Baltimore City Appoints School Construction Task Force

Baltimore City officials have created a new task force that will address the $2.8 billion shortfall for school construction and renovation projects.

The task force will explore alternative financing options, possible new legislation, and successful models used in other areas to come up with ways to raise money for construction. Appointed by Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore City Schools CEO Andres Alonso, the 10-person task force will make its recommendations by February.

The task force members are as follows:

• Sophie Dagenais, the mayor's chief of staff;
• Arlene Friner, CEO of Philadelphia financial consulting firm Vantage Point Associates;
• Mike Frist, chief financial officer of Baltimore City Public Schools;
• Edward Gallagher, Baltimore City finance director;
• Valerie Greene, associate general counsel of Baltimore City Public Schools;
• David Lever, executive director of the Public School Construction Program for the Maryland State Department of Education;
• George Nilson, Baltimore City solicitor;
• J. Keith Scroggins, chief operating officer, Baltimore City Public Schools;
• Thomas Stosur, Baltimore City planning director; and,
• Sabrina Sutton, the city's special assistant for youth and education.

The city says it needs to raise $1.5 billion for basic facilities maintenance and another $1.3 billion for major renovations and new school construction.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Baltimore City

Baltimore City Unveils Plan to Reduce Urban Blight

Baltimore City officials hope to rehab more than 1,000 vacant buildings by providing more incentives to homebuyers and developers who build in distressed areas.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano announced the "Vacants to Value" initiative Nov. 3.

The plan relies on six strategies:

• Disposing of vacant city-owned property. The mayor's office has restructured its land resources staff, hired a new team of real estate marketing professionals, and launched a new website to help sell vacant city properties.

• Fining landowners who abandon properties $900 instead of pursuing costly legal battles by taking each case to court. This will hopefully pressure absentee landowners and speculators to reinvest in their properties to avoid more fines, or sell them.

• Deploying code enforcement attorneys to encourage investment in emerging neighborhoods.

• Providing incentives for homebuyers and developers. This includes a $5,000, five-year forgivable loan for 100 police officers, firefighters, and teachers who purchase vacant property. Baltimore Housing has packaged four more home-buyer incentives, totaling roughly $1 million, for individuals who purchase vacant or newly rehabilitated homes. The department will also establish a new $1 million revolving loan fund to provide short-term cash for small developers and contractors who rehabilitate vacant properties.

• Supporting large-scale redevelopment efforts in distressed areas.

• In areas with significant urban blight, Baltimore Housing will focus on maintaining, clearing, and holding—or "land banking"—vacant property for future use. This involves demolishing and cleaning targeted areas and creating new green space.

Baltimore City contains 16,000 vacant buildings, of which 5,000 are located in what the city calls "transitional blocks" — areas that are largely occupied but challenged with a number of scattered vacant structures.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Baltimore City

Land Trust Partners With City to Preserve Baltimore's Green Spaces

A nonprofit is working with Baltimore City to preserve Baltimore's parks by allowing qualified land trusts to purchase city-owned land for $1 per lot.

There are 13,000 vacant lots in Baltimore City, about half of which are owned by the city, says Miriam Avins, founder of Baltimore Green Space.

The nonprofit's partnership with the city will allow Baltimore Green Space to take over two sites on behalf of community organizations. One is the horseshoe pit in Pigtown and the other is land at the intersection of North Avenue and Barclay, to be used as a sitting garden.

"We respond to what neighborhoods want to do," Avins says.

The system works by somebody in a neighborhood first submitting an application to preserve a piece of land and identifying a volunteer who can oversee the site. Baltimore Green Space then works with the volunteer to help the neighborhood preserve the land for, say, a garden or a park.

Baltimore Green Space's land transaction committee takes a first look at the property and does a due diligence screening. The land trust then acquires the land and connects the community organizations with the resources needed to preserve it.
For instance, an association in Upper Fells Point wanted to add some greenery in an alley behind a garden. If Baltimore Green Space didn't own it, the city would have repaved the alley.

"It helps make sure the decision reflects the desire of the neighborhood," Avins says.

The nonprofit is holding an informational session Oct. 26 at the Parks & People Foundation.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source Miriam Avins, Baltimore Green Space

Maryland Art Place Plans to Move to the West Side

Maryland Art Place is moving its office and gallery from Power Plant Live to Baltimore's west side as the nonprofit hopes to be an arts anchor for the neighborhood.

MAP has owned the 20,000-square-foot building at 218 W. Saratoga St. since 1988, but it has been renting out the space to other nonprofit tenants. Some of those will remain when MAP moves in January to the five-story building.

Eventually, leaders at the nonprofit would like to use the entire space for community arts projects, MAP Executive Director Cathy Byrd says. This could include artist studios, a dance studio and a small movie theater. To do that would take several years and require a thorough renovation of the building costing in the neighborhood of around $1.5 million, Byrd says.

The nonprofit is now applying for grants and planning a series of fundraisers to raise money for that effort. MAP plans to hold its fall fundraiser, Pop-Up Gala, Nov. 12 in the Saratoga St. building.

Byrd says the organization wanted to take part in what it sees as a burgeoning arts district on the west side. The area is home to the Hippodrome theater, the artist warehouse known as the H&H building, and Current Space art gallery, which recently moved to Howard St.

Next year, it will be home to Everyman Theatre once it moves from its Charles Street spot in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.

The basement of the MAP building on Saratoga St. currently houses underground performance art series 14Karat Cabaret.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Cathy Byrd, Maryland Art Place

Denver Firm Buys Brewers Hill Apartment Complex for $49M

A Denver real estate investment trust has snatched up a Brewers Hill apartment complex for $46 million as it beefs up its portfolio in the Baltimore and Washington markets.

UDR Inc. bought the 180-unit building, called Domain Brewers Hill, as more people choose to rent versus buy property in the wake of the housing bust. Barron's forecasts that the percentage of households who own their own home will drop to 64 percent in 2015, down from its peak of 69 percent in 2004.

UDR likes to buy property in areas where there is limited land on which to develop more apartment units and where residents have a high propensity to rent versus own a home, says Andrew Cantor, UDR's vice president of investor relations.

It also invests in areas where there is job growth. Though Maryland's unemployment rate rose to 7.4 percent in August, the state has added 33,200 jobs since January, according to the state's department of labor, licensing and regulation.

Cantor says fewer people are leaving its apartment homes — a sign that rental demand is heating up. In August, just over half of its residents left their apartment homes, versus 61 percent during the second quarter of 2009.

"That's a huge improvement for us," Cantor says. With fewer people leaving, the company can charge higher rents.

With the Brewers Hill purchase, UDR now has 2,300 apartment units in Baltimore. It owns 50,000 apartment homes nationwide.

Average rent for the one-and-two-bedroom apartments at Domain Brewers Hill is $1,975. The apartments include high ceilings, hardwood floors, granite countertops, and stainless steel kitchen appliances. UDR added free wireless Internet access to the property.

Domain Brewers Hill was built in 2009 by the Hanover Co. of Houston.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Andrew Cantor, UDR

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

Current Gallery moves to new space on the west side

An artist-run gallery has moved into new space on the city's west side. Current Space opened its doors to the public at 421 N. Howard Street this month after nearly six years at 30 S. Calvert Street.

The new spot is conveniently located near the Light Rail, and restaurants in Mount Vernon, Current Co-director Monique Crabb says. "Downtown closed down at night. It's nice to be in an area where there's an audience around us."

It's also close to the Enoch Pratt Library and the artist warehouse the H&H building, the site of many art shows and music events.

"We're really excited about the location," Crabb says.

Current artists pay just utilities and property taxes —  about $6,000 a year — and is getting the space free of rent from the city. Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc. and the Baltimore Development Corporation helped the artists find the new space. The move highlights how the city is encouraging artists to move into areas with vacant buildings with the hopes that it will jumpstart development.

Eventually, the artists will have to move if a developer takes an interest in the area. "It's a win-win situation except we will be asked to leave," Crabb says.

Right now, the artists expect to stay in the space for at least a year and a half.

The gallery displays the work of photographers, printmakers and videographers whose work is not very commercial. Most of the work is not sellable, because the work includes videos and major installations.

"We don't target the audience looking to buy art work," Crabb says. "We wish we sold more stuff and make more money. It's more about including the artists' community but not so much in a commercial way."

Source: Monique Crabb, Current Space
Writer: Julekha Dash

Women's Heritage Center seeking $5M in funds for permanent space

Leaders at the Maryland Women's Heritage Center are scouting locations in Baltimore and Annapolis for a permanent home for its exhibits that highlight the Free State's leading ladies. The site pays homage to accomplished Maryland women in a Hall of Fame display. Featured women include biotech pioneer Claire Fraser-Liggett, Harriet Tubman, environmentalist and "Silent Spring" author Rachel Carson and jazz great Billie Holiday.

Center leaders expect to open a 25,000-square-foot center within two years, and need to raise $5 million to open a permanent building, Executive Director Jill Moss Greenberg says.  

The center opens its temporary home June 19 at 39 W. Lexington St. Located in the former Baltimore Gas & Electric Building, the initial space was donated by David Hillman, CEO of Southern Management Corporation. Greenberg says the board is looking at half a dozen sites in downtown Baltimore and is zeroing in on Baltimore and Annapolis with the hope that the locales can attract conference attendees and students on school trips.

The permanent location will host more interactive exhibits, a library, women's history archive, arts and crafts display, meeting space and gift shop with books and gifts made by Maryland women.

Center officials will launch a capital campaign this year."I know it's terrible timing because of the economy but we're at the point where we need to do so," she says.

The center has an operating budget of about $100,000 and gets its funding from the state, corporations, foundations and individuals. Entrance is free.

The Maryland Women's Heritage Center is an offshoot of the Maryland Women's History Project, collaboration between the Maryland Commission for Women and the Maryland State Department of Education.

Source: Jill Moss Greenberg, Maryland Women's Heritage Center
Writer: Julekha Dash

Take a break from the basement: Canton's Beehive expanding work space for freelancers

Beehive Baltimore, a nine-month old community for freelancers and entrepreneurs, is moving into larger digs at Canton's Emerging Technology Center June 1. At 1,700 square feet, the new spot at 2400 Boston St. is 50 percent larger than the old office. The new space gives the Beehive the capacity to accommodate up to 31 people a day.

"I had my eye on it from the beginning," says Dave Troy, the facility's administrator. But the space only became available mid-April.

Beehive's popularity is part of a larger movement known as coworking, or the idea that independent professionals work better together than alone in their basements. The concept of coworking is gaining popularity in many cities around the world, according to Troy. "So many people who are freelancers are working from home," he says.

Starting a business and working from home can be isolating and makes it difficult for folks to keep up to date on best practices.  It's also tough to hold meetings.  Having a central facility for freelancers and entrepreneurs makes it easier to team up with the right people, Troy says.

Take the Beatles, for instance. The band's magic came from having the right combination of talented musicians in a shared space.  Similarly, the best business ideas get unleashed with you have the right blend of people bouncing ideas off one another, Troy says.

Some freelancers work in a café, but in that space people don't get to interact. "In this environment, you have the opportunity to get to know each other over time," Troy says. "In a café, everyone is trying ot to leave each other alone."

A Beehive membership runs $175 a month to work three days per week and $275 per month for daily access. Members can also purchase a day pass for $25.

Beehive Baltimore holds about 75 people in its membership database and gets about eight to 10 freelancers each day.  The current space allows for a maximum of 15 people a day.

Readmore from our coverage of Canton!

Source: Dave Troy, Beehive Baltimore
Writer: Julekha Dash

Y of Central Maryland to expand Carroll County facility, sell another

The Y of Central Maryland is expanding a Carroll County facility to meet growing demand and is trying to sell another.

By the end of the year, the 24,000-square-foot health center at 1719 Sykesville Rd. in Westminster will expand by another 5,000 square feet.

To begin this summer, the expansion will likely include more family locker rooms, a larger children's play area and fitness center, the Y's Chief Marketing Officer Sara Milstein says. The Westminster Y will also add several multi-purpose rooms that can be used for group exercise classes, meetings and clubs.

"The renovation is very intentionally designed to encourage family and community interaction," Milstein says. Y officials envision their centers as being a place where people can interact with their neighbors and friends.
"In a hurried society where families are under so much stress, the old-fashioned town square doesn't exist anymore," Milstein says. "There's a recognition for a real need for people to connect and not just virtually. We're making the membership about more than fitness but about the spirit, mind and body."

Y officials plan to fund the expansion by using the proceeds from the sales of the building to the Powers Cos. The Y will then lease back the property from Powers for 25 years.

Milstein declined to say how much the Y is spending on the renovations and the building sale. The property is valued at about $2.7 million, according to state property records.

Organization leaders are also actively seeking a buyer for the Westminster Inn, which the Y purchased from the Maryland School for the Blind in 2007. Costs for renovating the historic building have been escalating and given the economic downturn, Y leaders decided it would be wise to sell it rather than spending more money on it, Milstein says.

When the renovation is completed, the Westminster Y will be renamed the Hill Family Center Y in recognition of longtime donors.
The Y of Central Maryland currently operates 11 centers in Baltimore City and Baltimore, Howard, Harford, Carroll and Howard counties.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source, Sara Milstein, Y of Central Maryland

Pratt Library's new mobile library hits the road

The Enoch Pratt Free Library unveiled its brand spanking new Mobile Library Monday outside St. Ambrose School in Park Heights. The bright red van is a  new addition to the library's Bookmobile fleet.

This 28-foot state-of-the-art bookmobile is quite literally a mobile library, offering Baltimore residents many of the services they'd find at a brick-and-mortar branch. Visitors will be able to surf the Web using the public access computer and, of course, check out audio visual materials, periodicals, large print materials, and current bestsellers. The bookmobile will also include a number of books available in Russian and Spanish.

The new Mobile Library will visit areas of Baltimore that are not geographically close to a library. It will also regularly service senior centers, schools, Latino Relocation Centers, municipal buildings and the communities along Edmondson Avenue and Reisterstown Road where Pratt branches are closed for renovation.

"The Pratt Library is at the heart of every community in Baltimore and this new Mobile Library will bring valuable resources to our patrons," says Carla Hayden, Pratt Library CEO. "The Mobile Library is a modern and dynamic information center for the 21st century. Our bookmobile service serves people of all backgrounds, providing access almost every service that patrons find in Pratt branches."

The Enoch Pratt Free Library's bookmobile fleet has a long history of serving and providing free library materials and programming to the citizens of Baltimore. In 1943, the Pratt's horse drawn "Book Cart Service was established to serve areas of the city that were not within walking distance of a Pratt Branch. It was later replaced in 1949 when the first Bookmobile began services to Baltimore City neighborhoods.

The Mobile Services provided by the Pratt Bookmobile are as popular and vital today as it was in its inception. According to a recently released report, nearly one-third of Americans, about 77 million people, used a public library computer or wireless network to access the internet in the past year.

The report, Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries, is based on the first, large-scale study examining who uses public computers and Internet access in public libraries, the way library patrons use this free technology service, why they use it, and how it affects their lives. The Enoch Pratt Free Library was part of this national study and Pratt patrons were even interviewed in-person for the report, which was conducted by the University of Washington Information School and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

"We discovered that 30 percent of people in Baltimorehave no access to the Internet. So they rely on the library system and we take that responsibility seriously. The mobile library is like an extension of the library system and now it's evolving like the main library has itself," says Roswell Encino, Enoch Pratt Library spokesperson.

The Mobile Library was funded by contributions of The Rouse Company Foundation and The Jean and Sidney Silber Foundation.

Source: Roswell Encino, Enoch Pratt Free Library
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Census Questionnaire Assistance Centers

In an effort to help citizens fill out their Census questionnaires, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, joined by the Baltimore Hispanic Commission, community leaders, and Census staff opened one of the city's Census Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QAC). The QACs will assist residents in the completion of census questionnaires and offer language assistance. Questionnaire Assistance Centers will offer 59 different language assistance guides along with Braille and large print questionnaires.

"The faces of Baltimore continue to diversify, yet we know that our Hispanic community is historically undercounted," says Mayor Rawlings-Blake. "It is important that Baltimore and the Latino community not lose Census dollars because of language barriers and fear of government. What we do this year will have an impact on what we can do for the next decade. Together we must make sure that all Baltimoreans are counted on April first."

Mayor Rawlings-Blake stressed the privacy and security of the census and praised the efforts of organizations like CASA de Maryland to increase the return rate of Census questionnaires. Based on census track data, some households in Baltimore will receive bilingual forms. CASA de Maryland is assisting with questionnaires during their annual free tax return preparation.

The census count determines the allocation and distribution of over $4 trillion in federal funding over the next 10 years for school construction, housing and community development, road and transportation planning, job training and more. Census counts also determine the boundaries for state and local legislative districts. In Baltimore, the census helps determine the level of language assistance available in city agencies.

Language assistance in French, Russian, Chinese, Korean and Spanish (the city's five most spoken non-English languages) will be available at QACs throughout the city.

A complete list of QACs is available on the city's website, http://www.baltimorecity.gov/Government/AgenciesDepartments/Planning/2010Census/CensusHelp.aspx.

Assistance is also available by phone in:

  • Spanish: 1-866-935-2010
  • Korean: 1-866-955-2010
  • Russian: 866-965-2010
  • Chinese: 1-866-935-2010

Source: Baltimore City; U.S. Census Bureau
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Homewood's Waverly Elementary/Middle to get new LEED-certified building

Students at Waverly Elementary Middle School in Greater Homewood will have a brand spanking new, state-of-the-art, LEED-certified school building within the next three years, the Greater Homewood Community Corporation announced.

In the works since 2004, the new school building will replace two relics of the last century situated roughly one and a half blocks apart in which students have been housed for the past six years.

"For many, many years, the school was K through 5. Back in 2003 there was a decision made to keep middle schoolers who had been zoned for Roland Park, closer to the community. The school board added grades making Waverly K through 8. They realized quickly though that there wasn't enough room for the middle schoolers and wound up putting them in building that was about a block away from the elementary school. The old Venable vocational special ed building plus a really ancient portable became the middle school for Waverly," explains Karen DeCamp, director Neighborhood Programs at Greater Homewood Community Corporation.

After several years during which the city would submit requests for funds to build a new school for the neighborhood that the state repeatedly rejected, progress finally came in 2007 after Dr. Alonso Gates became head of the Baltimore City Public School System.

With his support and that of local councilwoman Mary Pat Clark, the city was finally able to submit a plan that the state eventually approved in 2008.

A culmination of years of advocacy and community action, this new building will not only move students out of a sub-standard facility, it will bring competitive academic programs to the school and provide Waverly, Oakenshawe, and Ednor Gardens-Lakeside families with a great public school option in their neighborhood, says DeCamp

The new building, designed by Grimm and Parker Architects, will include a green roof of low-growing succulents and other energy efficient technologies. The building will be constructed in two phases. The new building will be constructed on the field adjacent to the current school building. Students will be able to continue to attend classes in their current building with the elementary school demolished and add the remaining classrooms and a gymnasium once the main structure has been completed.

"For us this is a huge victory for the community. The middle-schoolers have toiled away in substandard circumstances that we think affects achievement and this is just a great victory," DeCamp says.

Source: Karen DeCamp, Greater Homewood Community Corporation
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Thank you for joining us at Sam's Kid

The Bmore Media staff would like to thank all of our readers, Twitter followers and Facebook fans who came out to meet and mingle with us last Tuesday evening at Sam's Kid in Fells Point. We really enjoyed meeting you all and sharing why we all think Baltimore is one of America's best, if slightly underappreciated, cities.

A huge thanks to Andrea Rani, owner of Sam's Kid, for letting us host the Happy Hour event in one of Baltimore's best new restaurants.

For those of you who weren't able to make it this time, no worries! We'll be hosting another Happy Hour soon. So stay tuned for more details.

Thanks again!
The Bmore Media Crew

Anne Arundel County apartment complex nears completion

An apartment complex in Hanover is wrapping up construction on 270 units that will be added to the Elms at Stoney Run Village at the end of the month.

Marketers for the building are pitching the Elms' proximity to Arundel Mills mall and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Property Manager Cheryl Henley says. The complex at 7581 Stoney Run Dr. is about 75 percent full and will have a total of 386 apartments when construction is finished.

The Elms contains one, two and three-bedroom units. The price ranges from $1,340 for a one bedroom to $2,105 for a three bedroom. The sizes range from 830 to 1,650 square feet with amenities that include a swimming pool, fitness center and hiking trails.

Elm Street Development, the complex's McLean, Va., developer, picked the area because of the expected job growth in Anne Arundel County, Elm Street Project Manager Lauren Bower says.

"We chose the neighborhood because it is growing fast," Bower says. "A lot of people are moving to the area."

The Pentagon's Base Realignment and Closure plan, or BRAC, is expected to bring nearly 6,000 jobs to Fort George G. Meade in 2011.

Henley says the company likes Anne Arundel County's demographics. The county's population has grown nearly 5 percent between 2000 and 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and it has a median household income of around $83,000.

Elm Street's other properties include the Eden, a 270-unit apartment building in Baltimore's Harbor East neighborhood.

Sources: Cheryl Henley, the Elms at Stoney Run Village; Lauren Bower, Elm Street Development
Writer: Julekha Dash

Red Canoe renovation puts bookstore and cafe in same boat

When Nicole Selhorst wanted to feed more hungry customers during the cold winter months last year, she didn't have the space to seat all of them at Red Canoe Bookstore Cafe.

But now she's got the space -- and new menu items and products -- to keep them longer at her Lauraville business. After a renovation, that is now in its final stages, Selhorst will seat twice as many patrons at the Lauraville business.

Selhorst added 20 more seats by merging the bookstore and cafe areas that had been in two adjacent rowhomes so seats are spread throughout the space. Patrons now also get more food options, with pizza and grilled sandwiches. Red Canoe now has a fireplace on the first floor to keep customers cozy inside during winter.

In an appeal to families, the bookstore and cafe now sells more childrens toys.  An expanded book selection includes more title that appeal to kids and young adults.

Selhorst has already been building up a fan base among families. In conjunction with Loyola University Maryland's radio station WLOY, Red Canoe hosts regular events that get children to read and write stories.
"We are able to really build up a community of families," Selhorst says. "I see us growing."

The bookstore is among a growing crop of small businesses that have sprouted in the Hamilton/Lauraville area. Selhorst praises the neighborhood's diversity and the fact that it has drawn a number of artists, authors and activists intent on making the area a better place to live.

"It's a wonderful, growing community," Selhorst says.

Source: Nicole Selhorst, Red Canoe Bookstore Cafe
Writer: Julekha Dash

Y of Central Maryland to open new Parkville facility

The Y of Central Maryland will invest $500,000 to open a new facility in Parkville in June as part of a strategic plan to expand in Northern Baltimore County.

Located in the North Plaza Shopping Center, the facility will offer youth sports, swimming, water aerobics, martial arts, yoga, indoor cycling and exercise programs for children, seniors and adults. The new center will also offer community outreach programs for at-risk youth and raise money to aid those who cannot afford the Y's services.

Y officials decided to expand in Parkville after completing a strategic plan that identified Northern Baltimore County as an area that was underserved, says Sara Milstein, the Y of Central Maryland's chief marketing officer.

Last year, the organization opened a facility in Perry Hall. It also has a facility in Towson. The Y of Central Maryland operates pre-school and after-school programs and youth and adult sports in Northern Baltimore County. Having a cluster of family centers in one area makes it more convenient for people, Milstein says.
"Anytime we come into a neighborhood, the Y is the health and wellness anchor," Milstein says.

The nonprofit will be recruiting volunteers to mentor area youth. The Y of Central Maryland is one of seven Ys around the country that shared a $7 million federal grant to offer mentoring programs.
The Y of Central Maryland operates eight health and wellness centers in Baltimore City and Baltimore, Howard, Harford and Howard counties.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Sara Milstein, Y of Central Maryland

New green PNC branch opens at Baltimore and Paca Streets

A new PNC branch location has opened its doors and vault for customer deposits in downtown Baltimore. Located at 426 W. Baltimore Street, the branch is another example of PNC Bank's commitment both to its communiities and to the environment.

The LEED-certified building includes window panes that three times more efficient than conventional glass and allow a generous amount of natural "daylighting" in all occupied areas of the building. In addition, the branch offices are equipped with motion sensing light switches, so that when the office is not occupied the lights are automatically turned off. The branch also sports solar shades for windows that block direct sunlight without
eliminating daylight.

Green from top to bottom, the building's roofing material is highly reflective and reduces heat retention; and is supported by trusses and plywood that come from managed forests, which plant multiple trees for each one cut down. Roof projections were designed to shade the building interior from direct sunlight.While the heating and air conditioning systems use 35% less energy. The state of the art plumbing facilitates educed water usage through dual-flush toilets and low-flow faucets.

Inside the new branch, nearly everything is made from recycled material—from the steel structure to the carpet. Pre-manufactured exterior panels reduced construction waste. The paints, adhesives and caulking used during construction do not contribute to greenhouse gases.

Under the lead of Curtis Pope, branch manager, the branch will aid the community as much as it does the environment. Pope, a Baltimore native who grew up in the Northeast section of the city and graduated from Mervo in 1997, says that he wants members of the surrounding community to feel like they can come to the bank for all their needs or just a bit of advise.

"I was born and raised here. There's something about having a branch in the area to kind of help the community rebuild. I love that piece of PNC bank. We can touch both realms of the community - low to moderate incomes and high incomes as well. We want to help change the community one person at a time. I hope that even if we can't do anything for them from a banking aspect because bottom line is you can't help every person, just being able to be that person who people can come in and talk to and put a smile on their faces or listen when they have life changing events and point them in the right direction," he says.

Source: Curtis Pope, PNC Bank
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Center for Urban Families opens new facility

The Center for Urban Families (CFUF), a nonprofit organization that helps low- to moderate-income individuals and families enhance their skills and become self sufficient, cut the ribbon and opened the doors on its spanking new headquarters located at 2201 N. Monroe Street.

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg building is larger and will enable CFUF to provide expanded services for its clients and former clients.
CFUF provides families with a selection of services to help them build skills and confidence to find the personal power to change. The organization's primary programs are Family Services, Workforce Development and Responsible Fatherhood. The new 31,953 square feet of commercial office and training facility will meet the needs of a significantly increasing number of individuals and families benefiting from CFUF's services.

"The purpose of constructing the new building was to allow us to increase our capacity. Over the last 3 to 4 years we've gotten the opportunity to add additional programming but we didn't have the space to house these services. We originally decided to look for a place to relocate and weren't considering building a new facility from scratch," says Joseph Jones, Jr., founder, president and CEO of the Center for Urban Families.

"But, this new facility gives us the opportunity, not only to expand services but to look at the types of partners we want to have to engage the folks most disconnected from the labor force and acquire the hard skills necessary to be more marketable and move up the wage scale," he continues

The new building will house the CFUF's family housing service as well as the organization's expanding list of programs to support its alumni.

PNC Bank contributed more than $5.5 million in financing to construct the new headquarters building in West Baltimore on the site of the old Baltimore Coliseum. PNC's investment consisted of a $4.2 million loan and $1.32 million in equity provided through the New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) program. NMTC attract private capital investments to assist in financing economic development initiatives in low-income communities. This project is one of PNC's significant investments since the company acquired Mercantile Bankshares Corporation in March 2007.

"We are extremely grateful for PNC's investment," says Jones. "With this financial support, we are embarking on a pivotal period of growth and expanding our ability to connect low-income Baltimoreans to their families and the workplace."

The construction of this facility is expected to bring additional investment to this area of Baltimore that has benefited from redevelopment activities by the New Shiloh Baptist Church and improvements to the Mondawmin Mall.

"It is incredibly gratifying to be involved with a project that is so meaningful to the community," said Steve Palmer, PNC business banking relationship manager. "Thanks to a dedicated team of professionals, we have created a financing solution that will benefit the Center for Urban Families and demonstrate PNC's commitment to strengthen families and communities in Baltimore City."

Source: Joseph Jones, Jr., Center for Urban Families
Writer: Walaika Haskins

The Nine: Habitat for Humanity's block party

Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake (HHC) kicked off its largest project in Baltimore to date building nine homes for area residents. The nine modular (pre-fabricated) homes will occupy the 2400 block of Fayette Street, between N. Montford Avenue and N. Port Street.

"Building a community of Habitat families is what we seek to do. The empty lot gave us the opportunity to build with nine Habitat families right next to one another to help enhance the community on Fayette Street," says Mike Mitchell, HHC CEO.

It will take some 800 volunteers nine days to complete the new  two-story rowhomes. The speedy construction of these modular homes in Baltimore is a first for the nonprofit org, which helps provide affordable housing to low-income residents. The prefab housing costs the nonprofit some 25 percent less than building them the traditional way - from scratch. Volunteers that include Baltimore Gas & Electric and Constellation Energy employees will assist with and complete tasks including painting, fencing, siding, landscaping, carpentry, floor installation and other tasks.

Although the homes have been pre-fabricated in a factory, HHC was able to reclaim a lot that was pre-wired and with plumbing. There is a bus line right outside the door. And, the modular's are air-sealed which means no leaking of heat or air-conditioning

"They should be completed by early October. Then October 17, there will be a dedication ceremony and Rally Event at Patterson Park starting at 3:00 pm. The Rally will serve a dual purpose in formally announcing the merge of Arundel Habitat and Chesapeake Habitat to form Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake and the dedication of the nine new homes and the nine families receiving their keys to those homes," says Desiree Wingo, director of Community Engagement.

Once these homes have been completed, the organization has several other projects, though admittedly less ambitious, on its drawing board.

"One particular project starting around the first of the year is on Clay Street [in Annapolis] in a public housing complex. This housing complex has been demolished and will be re-built with 10-14 homes being built with Habitat volunteers and the future homeowners," explains Matt Metzger, construction director.

Source: Habitat for Humanity of the Cheasapeake
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Federal Hill shoe magician opens his own shop

Dan Brothers Shoes
at 1032 S. Charles Street was until recently the last word in shoe repair. But that changed four weeks ago, when Bill Graves, the man with the magic touch, left the shoe store and moved his expertise down the street.

"It's a win-win situation," explains Graves, who says Dan Brothers has freed up its shoe repair area for extra inventory, and Graves, who's now located at 1022 S. Charles Street in Federal Hill, gets his own space to do what he loves. By contract, Dan Brothers will stop shoe repair work entirely and send all its customers to the newly minted Bill Graves Shoe Repair.

Graves will continue to offer the same array of high-quality services, including new soles and heels, shoe dying and covering, orthopedic work, handbag and belt repair, and a leather cleaning service for leather garments. He also offers a wide selection of findings and retail supplies such as polishes, dyes, sprays, oils, laces and cleaners.

Best of all, the shop will replace your heels or soles while you wait. Graves, who brought his two part-time craftsmen with him from Dan Brothers, has created a comfortable reception area in the store and encourages customers to bring their lunch in and eat or watch TV while they wait. Come later in the day, and his daughter will be running the front desk, eager to welcome you.

A native of Baltimore, Graves learned the shoe repair trade at Carver Vocational Technical High School, where a nine-week courses in shoe repair, automobile repair and carpentry were compulsory. He prides himself on his meticulousness and his state-of-the-art equipment, and says that, with his 45 years of experience, even high-end, designer merchandise is safe in his hands.

Bill Graves Shoe Repair is open Mon.-Thur. from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Friday-Sat. from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

East Baltimore students back to school lesson? How to keep a promise

When the doors of the "temporary" East Baltimore Community School (EBCS) open for the first time on Aug. 31, students in the brand-new, brightly colored classrooms will learn about reading, arithmetic, and how to keep a promise.

That's because the school itself is a promise, one that East Baltimore Development Inc. made to the residents of its 80-acre site six years ago when it undertook the largest redevelopment project in Baltimore's history. At the time, some 70 percent of the homes in the EBDI site lay vacant and, without the requisite student- and tax-base, the local Elmer G. Henderson School was closed. Remarkably, EBDI promised those residents who remained in the area not only a new school, but a temporary one while the permanent school was being built.

That temporary pre-K through 8th grade school, EBCS, is now a reality. According to EBDI Communications Director Sheila Young, EBCS is a "contract" rather than a "charter" school, which allows EBDI to reserve 70 percent of its enrollment spots for kids from the immediate neighborhood as well as the children of former residents who have been relocated because of development activities (EBDI will also provide free transportation). The single-story, modular building, located at the corner of Wolf and East Chase Street between, is comprised of several trailers that have been brought in and bolted together.

"On the outside it's utilitarian, but we're doing things to make the area inside and around the school more welcoming and nurturing to the children," Young says.

The trailers came painted in colors chosen by Principal Cathleen Miles, and boast colorful murals, whiteboards, storage areas, wet sinks -- even little cubbies and "a tiny potty" for the kindergartners. Philadelphia-based, multinational food services giant ARAMARK sent 150 volunteers to create an outdoor classroom with a stage, benches, and podium, Young says.

The 19,300 square-foot, $1.6 million school, which EBDI undertook with partners such as Johns Hopkins University, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the City of Baltimore, will open this year to roughly 140 kindergartners, first-graders and fifth-graders. Two new grades will be incorporated each subsequent year with the addition of new trailers to accommodate them. The school will be operational for at least three or four years until the permanent school is completed, which Young says requires first the acquisition and demolition of homes in a four-block area bordered to the south by Ashland Avenue, the east by Patterson Park Drive the north by the Amtrak lines and the West by Chester Street. A design for the permanent school will be selected later this year.

Source: Sheila Young, EBDI
Writer: Lucy Ament

Hip and huge homes for sale in East Baltimore

Baltimore-based A&R Development has just put on the sales block the first residential new construction to be sold on the 80-acre campus being redeveloped by East Baltimore Development Inc. The five row houses constitute the first of 49 that will be built under the Townes at Eagar banner.

A&R bills the homes as having "timeless architectural lines with a contemporary urban flair" and is promoting their proximity to the Science and Technology Park, the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus and the Kennedy Krieger Institute, just two blocks away.

The exteriors feature brick façade, bay windows, contemporary designs, built-in garages, professional landscaping, balconies and white, reflective TPO roofing, while the interiors boast two-to-three bedrooms, 2.5-to-3.5 baths, open floor plans, walk-in closets, high ceilings, designer light fixtures and a choice of more than 20 shades of Mohawk carpet. Buyers may also choose form more than a dozen upgrade features, including hardwood floors, modern granite countertops, stainless steel GE appliances, crown- and chair moulding, an intercom system and wireless security systems.

What makes these homes so unusual, according to A&R's Feras Qumseya is their size vis-à-vis the typical city residence. They run from 1,765 to 2,638 square feet and include attached garages.

"These are humongous units that you really don't find, even brand new, in the Baltimore area," Qumseya says. "We are using urban and modern styles to really accommodate the young and professional lifestyle."

Prices start in the low 200's. A&R's marketing center for the Townes at Eagar is located at 855 N. Wolfe, and additional information is available at the Web site.

Source: Feras Qumseya, A&R Development
Writer: Lucy Ament

New Bohemian Coffeehouse offers a funky refuge in Station North

After delighting patrons of Zodiac restaurant in Station North with her culinary creations for eight years, Christina DiAngelo decided she wanted to pursue a few simple, low-stress goals: to create a quiet, comfortable spot in the neighborhood where she could brew great coffee, bake delectable pastries, and watch as people savor them and relax.

That's the genesis of The Bohemian Coffee House, which opened this summer at 1821 N. Charles Street. Two things put this place on the map: the delicious, specialty treats and a funky atmosphere.

In addition to specialty coffee drinks, DiAngelo offers sandwiches and salads and freshly baked pastries each day, keeping a few standards like brownies and biscotti always on hand and rotating in seasonal delights such as peach and coffee cakes. She also always has vegan options on the menu, including milkshakes made with soy milk, soy ice cream and vegan flavorings, soy desserts (such as blueberry cobbler), and a savory vegan item or two.

"Vegans that have gotten them have said they're really good," says DiAngelo, who studied at Baltimore's International Culinary College. "Because of the artsy element, Zodiac attracted vegetarians and vegans, so a third of my menu there was vegan. I had never cooked vegan before working there, but once I started experimenting I thought I it was really cool. It's a challenge to make foods without refined sugars or dairy products."

Also setting the Bohemian apart is its funky interior, which DiAngelo attributes to the interior design acumen of building owner Joy Martin. Martin selected muted blues to play up the beautiful hard woods of the interior, and found an large WWII era mural depicting musicians, artists, glass blowers, winemakers, and other craftsmen.

"That mural is where the name comes from," DiAngelo says. "When she put it up I said, that's so bohemian. And that was it!"

DiAngelo says business has been a bit slow since she opened, but she expects things to pick up when the school year starts and students return to the area.

"I want people to come in and relax and feel comfortable," DiAngelo says. "I like Baltimore because it's not pretentious. It's a very simple, laid back town. People are not walking around thinking they're better than everyone else. It's no D.C."

Source: Christina DiAngelo,The Bohemian Coffee House
Writer: Lucy Ament

$6M project to add five fields of dreams to Baltimore neighborhoods

Got a vacant lot of a certain size in your neighborhood? Then the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation may have designs on it. The organization, through its Swing for the Future project, plans to build multi-purpose, low maintenance Youth Development Parks in the city. The project, estimated at $6 million, will build state-of-the-art ballparks sporting artificial turf with a track and exercise stations, in five low-income neighborhoods throughout the city.

The first park will transform the unused property on the former Memorial Stadium site on 33rd Street. Foundation officials have joined with partners within the community to raise the $1.5 million needed to repurpose the vacant field. The Y of Central Maryland has teamed with the CRSF on the Stadium Place field. The Y will run the park which has been designed as a kid-scale replica of Memorial Stadium.

"The purpose is to give kids a safe and healthy place to interact and play. After we raise the mix of private and public funding, we will give the facility to a local community partner. We are using Baltimore as a model so we can take it to other cities and help kids all across country," says John Maroon, CRSF spokesman.

Early planning has already begun for a $1 million project in Park Heights near Pimlico Race Course. The partnership between CRSF, the Boys and Girls Club of Metropolitan Baltimore and the city's Department of Recreation will be completed in 2011.

Three other sites will be selected in East Baltimore, West Baltimore and one as-of-yet undecided location in the city. Community groups will operate the parks offering neighborhood kids the chance to play baseball, football and other sports as well as the CRSF's baseball-centric character development programs.

Depending on the organizations ability raise the needed funding for the parks, the goal is to open one park a year. So far, donations have raised roughly 50 percent of the $1.5 million needed to build and fund programming for the Stadium Place park.

Source: John Maroon, CRSF
Writer: Walaika Haskins

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