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Mayor gives thumbs up to three projects using $30.8M in stimulus loot

Mayor Sheila Dixon has approved the recommendations of the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) of three projects hat will use the city's Recovery Zone Facility Bonds. BDC, on behalf of the City of Baltimore, will enter into 90-day Exclusive Negotiating Privileges with each of the development teams.

The first project is a hotel, Inn at Penn Station, that will transform the vacant, upper floors of Baltimore's historic Penn Station into a 77-room boutique hotel. The hotel will occupy second and third floors and the majority of the fourth floorm though Amtrak will continue to occupythe remainder of the fourth floor. The developer, Penn Station Hotel, LLC, is an entity comprised of Hospitality Partners, LLC, James M. Jost & Company, A&R Development, Inc. and Summit Associates, LLC.

The development group has requested $8.1 million of Facility Bond proceeds; total project costs are estimated to be $12,438,000.

BDC estimates the direct City benefits from this project to be 89 construction jobs, 27 permanent jobs, and over $8.9 million in total new taxes over a 20-year period. In addition to the quantitative benefits, the Inn at Penn Station project will leverage the other redevelopment efforts undertaken and investment made by the City and other public, non-profit and private partners in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.

Marketplace at Fells Point will be a  a mixed-used project comprised of two buildings totaling 126,500 square feet, including 160 apartments, 28,500 square feet of ground level commercial/retail space and 118 structured parking spaces. The project is located in the east and west blocks of 600 South Broadway, two blocks north of the corner of Broadway at Thames Street.

The Marketplace at Fells Point developer is South Broadway Properties, LLC, a partnership comprised of David Holmes and Daniel Winner as managing members. South Broadway Properties, LLC is requesting $8 million of Facility Bond proceeds; total project costs are estimated to be $52,046,508.

BDC projects the direct City benefits from the Marketplace at Fells Point project to be 300 construction jobs, 285 permanent jobs, 100 new City residents and over $15 million in total new taxes over a 20-year period.

The final project is the Curtis Bay Energy/Mid-Atlantic Integrated Sustainable Service Center for Healthcare Systems. The project entails construction of a new commercial laundry facility with high efficiency washers, dryers, and processing equipment that will be powered100 percent  by steam created by the nearby Baltimore Regional Medical Waste Treatment Facility. The project is located at 3300-12 Hawkins Point Road in Curtis Bay. Curtis Bay Energy, Inc. is owned by Himmelrich Associates, Inc., (Samuel K. Himmelrich, Jr.), the project developer.

Himmelrich Associates owns and manages the Baltimore Regional Medical Waste Treatment Facility, an existing facility for safe and efficient destruction of regulated medical waste.

As a byproduct of the treatment facility's operations, 4.29 MWh of electrical power is produced, and is currently largely unused. The energy byproduct of the treatment facility can be captured and used to power the Laundry Project, providing a clean, renewable energy source.

Himmelrich Associates is requesting $14 million of Facility Bond proceeds; total project costs are estimated to be $29,286,272.

Direct City benefits from the Laundry Project have been estimated by BDC as 95 construction jobs, 150 permanent jobs, and more than $12.9 million in total new taxes over a 20-year period.

Recovery Zone Facility Bonds are a new category of tax exempt private activity bonds authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The ARRA allocates $30.8 million in facility bonds within the City of Baltimore Recovery Zone that was created by an Ordinance of the City Council in July 2009.

"That BDC received so many proposals is a healthy sign that development activity is beginning to pick up in Baltimore," says Mayor Dixon. "We are particularly pleased with the diversity of the three projects selected and their potential to stimulate neighborhood and economic development efforts."

"We were pleased with the array of projects submitted," says BDC President M. J. "Jay" Brodie. "The Recovery Zone Facility Bonds will stimulate our economic development efforts and will help create three projects generating jobs and taxes for the City."

The BDC'sAdvisory Panel (consisting of representatives from the Baltimore Economic Recovery Team – BERT, the Baltimore City Departments of Finance and Housing and Community Development, and BDC, with McGuireWoods LLP and Municap Inc. serving as consultants for legal and financial advice). reviewed the 19 proposals, narrowing them down the three recommendations.

Source: Baltimore Development Corporation
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Lil Phil's a sign of the times

For Phil Osika, Lil Phil's is a dream come true and measure of his ability to make something positive from what could have been a devestating loss.

"Where I was working before, they decided to close it down and transfer everything to another, smaller site. So, I took early retirement, but I'm a little too old to go back in the job market and a little too young to draw my pension. And I've always wanted to own a neighborhood bar, you know, where you live upstairs," Osika explains.

The Canton resident, who once lived above the Green Turtle in Fells Point, says everything just came together for him once he made the decision to open the bar.

"This used to be Wee Peter's Pub, a place I went when I first moved from Fell's Point to Canton. I'd go there and shoot pool. I'd gotten to know a lot of people down here and was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. And, the name Lil Phil's is sort of take off of Wee Peter's Pub," he says.

Osika sees Lil Phil's, located at 706 S Broadway, as a neighborhood bar for locals who want to escape the hordes of college-aged drinkers and the theme bars that have become common in Fells Point and enjoy a game of pool. "I already have a good number of regulars and its starting to become a little like 'Cheers' where everybody knows your name and the bartender knows what you're drinking, right off the bat."

Drinks include six beers on tap, including Stella Artois, Blue Moon and Yuengling. Osika has just started a daily Happy Hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. week nights during which 24 ounce drafts are the same price as a pint.

In December, according to Osika, hopes to open the kitchen and begin serving light bar fare.

"This is something I'd always looked at doing. Now, I have the opportunity and don't have to wonder 'what if'"

Source: Phil Osika, Lil Phil's
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Fell's Point BAR back in biz

BAR, a Fells Point staple since the end of prohibition in the 1930s located at 1718 Lancaster Street, has reopened following renovations to replace the aging floor and spruce the place up a bit.

Back in business since August, aside from the new floor, the bar got a fresh coat of paint, updated draft system, new bathroom facilities and other new equipment.

"They took the whole floor out and dug it down until it was level. They replaced all the 200-year-old wooden joices with new ones. While we had the floor out, we repaired the walls, repainted so that its fresh because the nicotin had turned it kinda brown and now we have it back to a creamy color. It's not totally complete, but we're open for business," says Carol, the owner.

The bar offers 6 draft beers, with two changing periodically, as well as more than 20 bottled beers, including Stella Artois. BAR is open five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday.

"If you see the lights on, come on in," Carol says.

Source: Carol, BAR
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Sam's Kid brings pan-Asian cuisine to Fells Pt.

When a friend offered Andrea Rani, the opportunity to open a restaurant in Fells Point the experienced restauranteur decided to open what she calls, "a pan-Asian tapas."

"I fell in love with Fells Point right away. The historic setting, cobblestones, brick walkways and the water. Then as I got to know the people in the neighborhood, they're really, really strong, and everyone knows each other. They're so helpful and friendly. It is nice. It's like being back home,' Rani continues.

"This is my fourth and hopefully my last [restaurant]. I have Thai food, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean...I have some sushi," she says. "I make a killer pot pie."

In addition to its small plates, Sam's Kid also offers larger plates including curry, an Asian-style chicken crepe, and all of the dishes include a vegetarian option.

Though the restaurant, currently in the soft opening phase is operating with a limited menu, Andrea says she hopes to eventually expand the menu and even offer diners an Asian breakfast on Saturday and Sunday.

Located at 811 S. Broadway, Sam's Kid takes it's name from Andrea's father Sam. "He passed away in '92. I learned cooking from him. I learned how to love from cooking from him. Although later on I went to cooking school and all that my first love of cooking I learned from him," says the Indonesian native.

Currently, the restaurant has just 12 tables, but as they get closer to the official grand opening in mid-November, Andrea says she will take full advantage of the building two floors with a minimum of 35 tables with seating on both floors.

"I'd like to do a lot of delivery to the offices in the area and catering. We are really good at that. We do take-out right now and have a delivery menu for lunch and dinner," she adds.

Source: Andrea Rani
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Fells Point Recreation Pier moving forward -- again

The long delayed Fells Point Recreation Pier could be back on track soon. The city's Board of Estimates on Wednesday approved a deal that will pay for the costs to move Moran Towing, which currently held a 20-year lease on the pier, to a new location in Canton.

Under the agreement, both the ciy and developers J. Joseph Clarke and H&S Properties, will be $300,000, respectively for the tugboat to move to its new location at 1820 S. Clinton Street.

The move should clear the way to renovate the rotting pier in preparation for the planned $50 million, 132-room Aloft hotel. The refurbishment and building has been held up since 2004 by a series of issues, not the least of which was moving Moran.

Source: J. Joseph Clarke
Writer: Walaika Haskins.

Opening soon? Tell us about it!

Whether you're a business owner, community organization or just a neighborhood regular, if you have a business opening or that has recently opened tell us about. You could find your new business featured in our development news section.

Graffiti artist's boutique takes the road less traveled

Unusual times call for unusual enterprises. That's the philosophy of Baltimore-based graphic designer and graffiti artist Adam Stab, whose boutique End Times Trading Post – a collaboration with Ginny Lawhorn – will bring a bounty of one-of-a-kind, custom-made merchandise to Fells Point starting in October.

"The name is basically my take on where we are on the timeline of the human experience," Stab says of End Times, located at 1709 Aliceanna Street. "There's kind of a put-up-or-shut-up desperation to how we're seeing humanity handle our own growth and technology. Are we on the precipice of doing ourselves in, or will we be forced to the point where things are so rough we're going to figure it out? Whatever direction we go, I feel like we're at the end of where things have being going and at the beginning of what's next."

Given Stab's worldview, it's no wonder End Times' merchandise will be a study in deconstruction. The boutique is guaranteed a home run with its couture clothing, designed in-house, made entirely of reused, donated clothing. A Tommy Hilfiger shirt could end up a pair of women's shorts; a dress might emerge from a DKNY skirt.

"Everything's a cultural web, a remix of the original. We respect the origin of the style, but we break it down in the studio and take it in different a direction," says Stab. But don't let the couture concept scare you: this proprietor's adamant that these one-of-a-kind garments be affordable. A one-piece dress could be as little as $55; tops and shorts sets around $80.

End Times, which opens Oct. 3 during the Fells Point Fun Festival, will also offer a wide array of highly stylized accessories. Stab and Lawhorn are partnering with a Philadelphia-based firm to offer custom-painted tennis and are bringing in jewelry from local artists, some of it "rough-and-tumble, gritty and urban" and some delicate and floral. All will be from small runs, which should ensure that patrons' purchases won't pop up on everyone else's necks, wrists and fingers like mass-marketed trinkets from H&M.

"We have a desire to run a boutique that will help recreate the atmosphere Fells Point used to have, when the stores were eclectic and it was easy to have a fun shopping day because prices were reasonable," say Stab, who moved with his family to Baltimore as a teenager and recalls riding his skateboard regularly to the neighborhood. ("It was my available getaway," he says.)

In the interest of providing gift options for its patrons, End Times will devote its wallspace to artwork from local artists and will also invite local artists to avail themselves of a vast quantity of 1950s and 1960s molds that Stab has inherited. Stab hopes the artwork they create from the molds, which of course will be for sale, will offer customers a fresh but equally quirky alternative to the plastic Japanese toys and tchotchkes that are now en vogue.

Source: Adam Stab, End Times Trading Post
Writer: Lucy Ament

Parks & People offering $1K grants to create green spaces

The Baltimore-based Parks & People Foundation, is offering up to $1,000 for groups interested in greening their neighborhood. The monies, part of a partnership with the Baltimore Community Foundation and the Cleaner Greener Baltimore Initiative, provides up to $1,000 in Neighborhood Greening Grants for those planning projects that will plant trees, create community gardens, clean up and restore vacant lots, clean up neighborhoods, create green schoolyards, improve water quality improve and provide environmental education activities. Grant funds may also be used for tools, plant material, equipment and other needed supplies.

One of the goals of Baltimore City's Sustainability Plan is to increase accessibility to green spaces so that they are within ¼ mile of every resident. This program helps move another step closer to attaining that goal, according to the organization.

Parks & People has found that when outdoor spaces are healthy, utilized, vibrant and green, community residents are more engaged and invested in their neighborhoods. This is the type of sustainable environment that we work to create in neighborhoods, particularly underserved neighborhoods, throughout Baltimore, the group says.

Source: Parks & People
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Van Gough Cafe tackles the art of the coffee shop

When Mindy Alezra and her family fell in love with a vacant building on the corner of S. Ann and Gough Streets in upper Fells Point, the juxtaposition of the two names brought to their minds the tormented, ear-bereft Dutch painter. It was only after they'd settled on the name Van Gough Café for a first-floor coffee shop that they discovered locals pronounce Gough "guff" and not "go." Oh well. They dig the name and they're sticking with it.

Alezra, who purchased the imposing three-story brick building at 300 S. Ann St. with her husband Max and daughter and son-in-law Loni and Nick Diamond, says she's wanted her entire life to open a cafe.

"This building was calling to me saying, ok this is it, this is your opportunity," she says. "I want to know people, so I always wanted a little coffee shop where regular customers would come in, like in the bar Cheers. A place where they would know who we were and we would know who they were."

Alezra and her team capitalized on the exposed brick, hardwood floors and massive, hardwood bar to establish a relaxed atmosphere for the 900-square-foot café, which opens next month. There will be the requisite wi-fi, couches, tables and bar stools, and also plenty of artwork by local artists on display in keeping with the café's name. The cafe will offer standard coffee shop fare, including specialty coffees, smoothies, paninis, sandwiches, salads, and bagels from Goldberg's New York Bagels on Reisterstown Road.

But the quartet's contribution to Fells Point development doesn't stop there. They have also renovated the top two floors into an 1,800 square-foot single-family home boasting six bedrooms, six bathrooms, a whopping 24 windows, and a brand new electrical wiring throughout. The home will be available to rent in a few weeks, Alezra says.

Fells Point has not only proven the ideal neighborhood for a coffee shop, says Alezra, but exceedingly helpful to business owners. Support from the community facilitated the permits process, she says, and a grant from Fells Point Main Street has enabled the new owners to redo the building's 1920 façade.

"We love Fells Point," says Alezra, who with her husband came to Baltimore six years ago from Milwaukee. "It's quaint, it has so much character. It's just a unique and amazing place."

Writer: Lucy Ament
Source: Mindy Alezra, Van Gough Café

Brown's Wharf marina to increase Fells Point business

If you think finding a parking spot in the heart of Fells Point is hard, try being a boater. Slips to, well, slip into for an evening of shopping and dining on dry land are relatively scarce, but there will be quite a few more next spring thanks to Brown's Wharf.

The development, which contains more than 105,000 square feet of restaurants, retail and office space, will begin construction this fall on 19 40-foot slips and 210 feet of side ties (spaces where boaters can moor parallel to the dock). The marina by the time boating season begins next spring.

"We bought the building three years ago, and we were aware there had once been a marina there and that there was in fact a marina in that location in the master plan of Baltimore Harbor," says Brad Dockser, managing partner for ownership group, Brown's Wharf, LLC. "It was always our intention to rebuild a marina there, in part to activate the waterfront to increase activity there. We spent last year designing and thinking about what we wanted."

While some of the mooring spaces will be available for month- or yearlong rentals, others will be made available on an overnight basis. Dockser says the marina will not only be a revenue source for the management company, but will bring more customers to Brown's Wharf businesses.

"Most 40-foot boats don't have a kitchen," Dockser notes. "Because of the demographics of boating, we anticipate that more people will come to Fells Point for an overnight stay and dine at places like Kali's Court or Meli. Or, if they want something more informal, they'll go eat at a place like Shuckers."

Dockser says rates and policies for the marina should be determined by early 2010.

Writer: Lucy Ament
Source: Brad Dockser, Brown's Wharf, LLC

Kali's Restaurant Group gives Mezze a Spanish sister with Adela

"Small plate" savorers can soon mix and munch at a new Fells Point location: a Spanish tapas restaurant called Adela that's slated to open Oct. 1.

Located on the South Broadway side of the Admiral Fell Inn, Adela is the latest brainchild of Kali's Restaurant Group, which has brought to Fells Point a suite of high quality and sophisticated restaurants at varying price points. (There's the group's marquee restaurant, Kali's Court; the bistro Meli with its elegant, ample entrees all below $20; and Mezze, a Greek/Turkish tapas restaurant on the Thames side of the Admiral hotel).

Darin Mislan, who handles operations for Kali's Restaurant Group, says the success of Mezze has signaled an interest in small plate dining, and that traditional Spanish fare seemed the obvious way to go. The group has created for Adela a traditional Spanish atmosphere, with a mosaic tiled bar, traditional wrought iron, Spanish motifs, and a courtyard boasting a lush garden. The restaurant can seat roughly 120 diners, and includes a private room, accommodating 12, that overlooks the courtyard.

"We're going to have a very active bar and cocktail scene, with a fantastic wine list centered in Spain and specialty cocktails," says Mislan, adding that the menu will include lots of Spanish cheeses and cured meats. "It will be a spot to go and grab a glass of wine and have a bite to eat before going home to have dinner with the family, or a place to bring a group and make a night of it."

Another sign of authenticity? "We're getting very, very serious about sangria," Mislan says. "The chef and bartender have been researching different types, and we have some guys who just got back from Brazil and Spain who are helping us."

A fixture in Fells Point since 1999, Kali's Group hasn't seen a need to branch out to other neighborhoods.

"We've had great success in Fells Point," Mislan notes. "We've had huge neighborhood support. We've always looked for unique and beautiful properties, and because Fells Point is historic district, we find so many here. We're not the kind of group that goes into strip malls."

Writer: Lucy Ament
Source: Darin Mislan, Kali's Group

Baltimore gets double shot of comics with Graphic Novelty

After waiting nearly a decade for a new source to feed their love of comic books and graphic novels, Baltimoreans are getting not one but two new options for their fix. We told you last week about the Sept. 2 opening of Alliance Comics in Federal Hill; now we'll fill you in on Graphic Novelty, which is slated to open a week later at 1712 Thames St. in Fells Point.

Co-owners Benjamin Greene and Heiko Spieker call their new labor of love Baltimore's "one-stop geek shop." The shop will offer "anything geeky," Spieker notes, including toys, card games and board games." While shoppers will find mostly new issue comic books and graphic novels at the store, Greene and Spieker will be selling portions of their personal collections and will also allow patrons to sell their own collections on a consignment basis.

Spieker said he and Greene, who owns the Waterfront Hotel and Miss Irene's in Fells Point, had tossed the idea of a comic store around for years. They decided to pounce when the 1712 location was vacated this summer by Fells Point Frame and Design (which moved to a larger location down the street).

"We both have a firm grasp on the realms of geekdom, but there are little subdivisions within our expertise," Spieker notes. "He knows more about Star Trek, while I know more about Star Wars, Angel, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But overall I'd say we're about equal."

Spieker says he and Greene designed the shop "to look like comic book in its own way," with yellow and red walls, custom-built black shelving units with plexiglass to allow maximum visibility, and a wrap-around glass counter will display special items. The duo have also set up a gaming room in the back of the store with wireless Internet for patrons to play games.

Interest in the story has already been high, Spieker says.

"We've been keeping the door open as we've been setting up here, and people pop in every day to say their glad we're here." In fact, impromptu visits from parents with their children have persuaded Spieker and Greene to carry kids' book, which wasn't in their original plan.

Spieker chalks up the opening of two comic book stores in Baltimore just one week apart to a case of "great minds thinking alike." He's anticipating the month of October, which will bring with it both the Fells Point Festival and Baltimore Comic-Con — and, hopefully, a lot of foot traffic.

Writer: Lucy Ament
Source: Heiko Spieker, Graphic Novelty

Fells Point frame shop relocates to accommodate a sweet new gig

What do you do when you score the exclusive rights to a major museum's photography collection? You get a bigger store, that's what.

It's the enviable position Kory Mitchell and Jennifer Moore, owners of Fells Point Frame and Design found themselves in this spring when they won the sole commercial right to fulfillment, distribution and publication of the Baltimore Museum of Industry's BG&E photographic collection, which spans the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries. The gig requies considerable more room for printing processes, so the duo increased their space by roughly 40% last month by moving from the 1700 block of Thames Street to 1622 Thames, a building previously occupied by the running store 5K.

The BG&E collection is a Baltimorephile's dream. Among the more than 2,500 pictures are electric images of the city on fire in 1904, a 1944 skyline with Goodyear blimp above it, and the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower when it was still crowned by a giant bottle. It also contains charming regional shots of the Chesapeake Bay, crabbers, Pimlico during the running of the Preakness, and old industrial shots. Mitchell and Moore are able to reproduce any photo in the collection in various sizes and on various media, including canvas.

Fells Point Frame and Design continues to carry hundreds of posters (running the gamut of themes, from music to movies to fine art prints to celebrities), as well as an impressive collection of old world maps and vintage photography. It will enlarge customer's personal photographs, and it sells Moore's "Board Baltimore" line of wood-and-glass signs bearing clever sayings. It has also expanded its inventory to include the Space Craft clothing line and is running a diploma-framing special to beat any in town, Mitchell says.

"We pride ourselves on being Baltimore's most affordable custom framer," Mitchell says. "We make it easy to get stuff frame if you can't afford higher end materials. We fill that niche."

Mitchell, who opened his shop nearly ten year's ago in Canton's Broom Factory, is a Delaware native who made Baltimore home after attending Towson University. He says he's excited about the renaissance in the city.

"I'm a big believer," he says. "I'm seeing things get better. And we're excited to do the new things we're doing because we think they're going to be our engines of growth."

Writer: Lucy Ament
Source: Kory Mitchell, Fells Point Frame and Design

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

New Fells Point coffeehouse brewing up java and fudge

There's a new java pusher on the streets, supplying coffee lovers in Fells Point with their daily latte dose. And while a good cup of joe in a friendly, familiar environment is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, when it's combined with the chocolatey goodness of freshly made fudge, then the line fiends looking to get their fix will likely stretch out the door.

That's the golden combo Jeff Harwood, a veteran javahouse developer and owner of the newly opened Java Roo, Kickin' Coffee and Fells Fabulous Homemade Fudge, is banking on. The one-month old Broadway coffeehouse offers 19 flavors of fudge made fresh daily, a wide array of specialty coffees, fudge-based mocha drinks, and pure fruit smoothies. The coffeeshop also carries Harwood's  motley crew of "Coffee Critters" characters: Java Roo, Mocha Monkey, Latte Lion, Wired Whiskers, Caffeine Coyote and Chai Cheetah on tee-shirts, coffee mugs, and other merchandise. Harwood, who's lived in the area since 2002, introduced the characters four years ago at Coffee Fest in Seattle, where they snagged the title of "best new product of show."

An aeronautical space expert by day, Harwood has owned coffeehouses in Florida and Virginia over the past 15 years owned. But he's decided to focus all his resources on the Fells Point location, largely to make it a unique and beloved neighborhood haunt. He chose the deep, narrow building with old fashioned tin ceilings at 726 S. Broadway after hearing grumblings from Fells Point residents that there weren't enough coffee shops in the neighborhood -- and not enough alternatives for those with a sweet tooth.

Harwood unabashedly declares his confection as "the best fudge you'll ever have." Among the dizzying selection are Heath Bar, mint, amaretto, coconut, Butterfinger, chewy praline, peanut butter chocolate, and raspberry vanilla swirl. Also available are sports-themed flavors in gift boxes, including chocolate-grape-raspberry swirl for Ravens fans and chocolate-orange swirl for Orioles devotees.

Source: Jeff Harwood, Java Roo
Writer: Lucy Ament

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