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Nutrition and Wellness Club to Debut in Federal Hill

Federal Hill residents whose New Year’s resolution is to stay fit will get some help from a new business in the neighborhood.
Baltimore Nutrition Club will open at 1005 South Charles St. Jan. 14, the store’s Co-owner Carin Beldin says. Beldin and Co-owner Matthew Christ are both personal trainers who work at Baltimore area health clubs.
Nutrition Club customers will pay a daily fee — $6 to $9 — to receive a healthful breakfast that includes a shot of aloe, a 200-calorie meal replacement shake packed with 15 grams of protein, and metabolic tea. The store will also sell Herbalife products for an additional charge.
The daily fee also covers specials like a free wellness evaluation, wellness coaching and fitness classes. The club will hold three to five classes per week. Fitness activities may include hula-hoop lessons, Pilates, pre-and post-natal training, boot-camp boxing and Mommy and Me group walks. Beldin says she also anticipates starting a Federal Hill running club, like those in Fells Point and Canton.
Beldin says she wanted to open the Nutrition Club in Federal Hill since she’s been working with neighborhood residents for seven years.
“There’s a need for healthy options and nutritional habits in Baltimore,” Beldin says. “I know from working in gyms that people get nervous. Here, there will be no judgments. It’ll be low key with weight-loss challenges and celebrations.”
Beldin might host book club meetings and offer Wi-Fi in the 600-square-foot space. She and Christ don’t plan to hire additional employees, but they each know 10-15 independent distributors they will potentially do business with.
Beldin hopes to expand to others areas like Canton. With the success of nutrition clubs like First Nutrition in Bel-Air and Aberdeen, she envisions them proliferating like Starbucks, popping up on every block.
Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Carin Beldin, Baltimore Nutrition Club

Prudential Adding New Offices, Hiring Agents

Prudential Homesale YWGC Realty is adding a new office in Fells Point and expanding its Timonium office in a new location by Jan. 1. It’s hiring dozens of agents to staff both locations as the housing market slowly recovers.
About a third of the Timonium space’s 5,900-square feet will become the Real Estate Education Center of Maryland, where Prudential will teach continuing education and realty licensing classes. Prudential Broker and General Manager Scott Lederer says it expects to gain state approval for the school within 30 days.
“As the real estate market improves, we’re poised to take full advantage of it,” Lederer says.
The real estate firm is closing its existing Timonium office at 108 West Timonium Road and moving around the corner, to the old Hobby Shop location in the Fairgrounds Plaza at 53 West Aylesbury Road.
The 24 agents who currently work in Timonium will all make the move to the new Fairgrounds Center location, says Prudential Broker and General Manager Scott Lederer. Prudential is hiring as 10 new agents in Timonium and could hire as many as another 10 additional down the road.
The 3,250-square-foot office at 1500 Thames St. will open mid-December and is the former site of Pad Furniture. Pad is now housed within the Su Casa Furniture location in Ellicott City.
A dozen current Prudential agents are ready to move in when the office opens and six to 10 new hires will join thereafter, Lederer says.
When fully staffed, the Fells Point office will accommodate up to 50 agents, which Lederer expects will happen within three months.
Prudential Homesale YWGC was created in February, when Yerman, Witman, Gaines and Conklin Realty merged with the Homesale Services Group out of Pennsylvania. Homesale YCGC is affiliated with Prudential Realty.
Source: Scott Lederer, Broker, General Manager, Prudential Homesale YWGC Realty.       
Writer: Amy Landsman, [email protected]

Sofi's Crepes Expanding to Fells Point, Delaware and New Jersey

Oh la la! The sweet smell of crepes will soon start wafting over the cobblestone streets of Fells Point and two other mid-Atlantic states as Sofi’s Crepes expands to new locations.

By mid-December, Sofi’s Crepes will open in a former office at 1627 Thames St. that is currently under renovation. Founder Ann Costlow is also plotting an expansion outside of Maryland. Costlow says she expects a Sofi's Crepes in Delaware and another in New Jersey to open within a year. 

The creperie's fifth location will be a franchise owned by one of the creperie’s employees, Michael Calhoun, says Costlow. The restaurant in Fells Point will hire about 15 and include a small seating area, Costlow says. 

“There’s a little alleyway in there and we are going to be actually in that alley. We’re going to have a pass-through window in that alley, so people are going to be able to smell it from the street, and they can either grab it and go, or they can come inside,” Costlow says.

Sofi’s has a standard menu of sweet and savory crepes. Plus, each location showcases a variety of local specials. The Fells Point specials are still being tweaked.

Costlow says she thinks the location will be popular with both locals and tourists.

“It’s a tourist location because you’ve got the water taxi, and you’ve got a lot of tourists down there, as well you’ve got a lot of walk-around traffic.”

The Fells Point shop is the third franchise in Costlow’s growing chain: the Owings Mills, and Annapolis locations are franchises. Costlow owns the shops on Charles Street and at Belvedere Square.

Over the past three years, Costlow says she’s had talks with probably 20 people about franchising. Most of those discussions didn’t pan out, either because it wasn’t a good fit, or because of financing, which Costlow says is the biggest holdup for potential franchise owners.

The initial startup for Sofi’s could be anywhere between $100,000 to $250,000 depending on the extent of the build out. 

The Owings Mills, Annapolis, and now the Fells Point stores are franchises. Costlow owns two: on Charles Street in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District and at Belvedere Square. 
Reporter: Amy Landsman
Source: Ann Costlow, founder, Sofi’s Crepes

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, [email protected]

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, [email protected]

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, [email protected]

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, [email protected]

West Coast Fitness Studio To 'Pop' in Baltimore

Downtown Baltimore will have a new fitness venue with West Coat flair this fall.
Pop Physique, an exercise studio franchise that originated in Los Angeles will add a studio at 339 North Charles St. Sept. 10. Owner Kim Quinn plans on opening more Pop Physique studios in the city within a year, looking at possible locations in Federal Hill, Fells Point, or Hampden.
Created by former professional ballet dancer Jennifer Williams, Pop Physique classes are hour-long workouts that combine ballet, Pilates and light weight work designed to tone and sculpt the body.
Quinn, originally from upstate New York, wanted to open a Pop Physique somewhere on the east coast and chose Baltimore. “I did research on Baltimore about its young urban population. It fits our targeted age demographic of 25-to-40-year-olds,” Quinn says.
According to Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc., more than half of all Baltimore residents are between the ages of 31 and 54. 
Pop Physique instructors from California will come to Baltimore next month and select five local instructors after a tryout. Quinn will also be trained as an instructor.
Each class holds 20 people. New clients can get 30 days of unlimited classes for $100. Other package deals will be available as well.

The Baltimore will be Pop Physique’s 13th location nationwide.
Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Kim Quinn, Pop Physique

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, [email protected]

Fells Point Wine Bar V-NO Opening Little Italy Location

Baltimore wine lovers rejoice: Little Italy will soon have another wine bar. 
V-NO, a wine bar in Fells Point, plans to open a new location within the next three to four months with a similar concept but twice in the space, says owner Mark Bachman.
Located in the old Fallsway Spring building at 415 S. Central Ave, V-NO's new location, V-NO II, will push the company’s concept of providing sustainable wines even further. Currently 70 percent of the wines at the Fells Point location are sustainable. Bachman plains to expand the sustainable wine offerings by featuring wines on tap.
Nationally, a growing amount of quality vineyards are offering wines in small, reusable stainless steel containers as opposed to bottles.
The packaging solution is a win-win for vineyards, businesses purchasing the wine, and the environment, Bachman says. Less packaging lowers costs for all involved and also dramatically reduces the carbon footprint. Plus, the first glass is as good as the hundredth, Bachman says.
In terms of the ecosystem, it's the best way to drink wine, Bachman says. He hopes his customers in Baltimore will also buy into the idea.
"It just makes sense. I've got a six year-old son, I want to leave the world in a decent place for him," Bachman says.
Additionally, the wine bar will offer light food and a larger selection of wine. V-NO II will occupy 25 percent of the Fallsway Spring Building. The 1,500-square-foot store will be located on the Eastern Avenue side of the building. Bachman plans to employ six people in the new business.

The building's developer, Larry Silverstein, is responsible for several other redeveloped retail and restaurant buildings in East Baltimore. His Union Box Company is the developer for the Holland Tack Factory, home of Heavy Seas Ale House and Red Star Bar & Grill, among other projects.
At one point, it was reported that the developer wanted to turn the space into condos with retail and office space. Silverstein bought the building for $750,000 in 2007, according to state property records.  

Source: Mark Bachman, owner of V-NO II
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]


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

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

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 

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
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