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Interior Design Firm Scouting for Office Space

A three-year-old interior design firm whose clients include Millennial Media and Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co. is scouting for office space in Baltimore City and adding to its staff.

Kelly Ennis, founding principal of the Verve Partnership, says she is looking at Clipper Mill and other historic properties in the area with the hope of leasing a 2,000-square-foot office in January. “We’re looking for an office that reflects our brand — less formal but creative and professional,” says Ennis, who has been working out of her Hampden home. Ennis has hired Doug Kaufman of AGM Commercial Real Estate Advisors LLC as her broker. 

The six-person firm will soon add another designer and a project architect and grow to about 20 employees over the next three years. Ennis says she eventually would like to expand to other smaller cities, such as Denver and Pittsburgh.  

A Pennsylvania native, Ennis moved to Baltimore in the 1980s to get her BFA in interior architecture at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She moved to Los Angeles for eight years, where she worked for HOK, the largest US-based architectural engineering firm. Locally, Ennis has worked for Gensler.

Ennis wanted to start her own firm because she wanted to design offices where the company’s brand is incorporated in its interior design. For instance, Verve blended a casual and corporate environment on behalf of Millennial Media, designing a “park like” area for flexible meeting space and a “jam room” for the staff musicians.

OmniTI, an IT services firm with offices in Fulton and New York City, wanted a space that fostered creativity. Verve incorporated graffiti and musical instruments in the office design. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Kelly Ennis, Verve Partnership 

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; [email protected]
Source: Simon Rosenberg, Patapsco Park Associates 

Canton Ace to Open in September

DIY home improvement enthusiasts in Canton don't have much longer to wait for their new hardware store.
Canton Ace Hardware will open in mid-September at 1001 S. Lakewood Ave., following an investment of as much as $800,000 from owners, says Rachel Machacek, a spokeswoman for Ace Hardware in Greater Baltimore. The store will be located across the street from the Canton Safeway. 
Co-owners Gina Schaefer and Marc Friedman invested between $600,000 and $800,000 to open and renovate the 11,000-square-foot space. Schaefer and Friedman own seven other Ace stores in Baltimore and Washington, including locations in Waverly and Federal Hill. 
While the space was close to move-in ready, the company did complete some renovations, including adding a new HVAC system, new offices and lighting.
Canton attracted the owners because of its walkability, neighborhood feel, and its proximity to independent shops and restaurants. The company wants local residents to have a shop in the neighrborhood for their home improvement needs without having to get into the car and make a lengthy drive, Machacek says.
The store will look to employ 15 workers initially, Machacek says.
The store will sell a variety of products including basic hardware, housewares, lawn and garden supplies, patio furniture, and more. And, you can bring your dog there. 
As part of the national Ace Hardware co-operative, the stores are locally owned establishments that bring jobs and business to the local economy, Machacek says.
Source: Rachel Machacek, communications manager, A Few Cool Hardware Stores
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

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; [email protected]
Source: Klaus Philipsen

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, [email protected]

$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, [email protected]

Quarry Lake Developer Plots Another Housing and Office Complex in Owings Mills

Baltimore County officials have approved preliminary plans for an office, shopping and residential complex in Owings Mills that aims to be a smaller version of Quarry Lake.
It’s one of several major developments in the works for Owings Mills. Others include David S. Brown Enterprises' Metro Centre, a $65 million makeover of the Owings Mills Mall and a Wegmans-anchored retail complex called Foundry Row.

Steven Koren, of Columbia’s Koren Development Co., is building Delight Quarry on approximately 120 acres in northwest Baltimore County, at the intersection of Franklin Boulevard and Nicodemus Road.
Delight Quarry's residential part calls for 75 single-family houses, 66 townhouses and 108-units of active adult condominiums. In addition, there will be 20,000-square feet of retail space and 136,500-square feet of office space.
Delight Quarry will follow the pattern of the Quarry Lake development, with buildings clustered around a quarry that is being allowed to fill in and become a lake.
Koren says he doesn’t yet know what the development will cost. He says he is not at the stage where he can give prices for the housing or potential tenants for the retail and office spaces. Those decisions will be made in conjunction with the residential and commercial builders, although neither has been chosen at this point. He also doesn't have a timeframe yet for construction. 

“We don’t do this [development] in a vacuum,” Koren says of housing prices and tenant leases. “It depends on market reception.”
Glenn Barnes, president of the Reisterstown Improvement Association and a manager of the Long and Foster Reisterstown real estate office, says questions were raised at a community meeting about the viability of the office and retail portions given the number of vacant commercial buildings on Reisterstown Road.
Koren says he is aware of the downturn in housing and other sectors. “Every decision is made in concert with the market and how we proceed in a productive manner. We have to work within the constraints of the market,” he says.
Baltimore County officials have approved the development plan and Koren is currently finalizing the engineering plans for construction. When he does, he will return to the county for approval of a final plan.

Sources: Steven Koren, Koren Development Co.; Glenn Barnes, president, Reisterstown Improvement Association, and manager, Long and Foster Reisterstown.
Writer: Barbara Pash

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

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

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

MICA Renovating Station North Building

The Maryland Institute College of Art is renovating a building for graduate programs that anchors North Avenue in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.

Scheduled to be completed fall of 2012, the renovations to Studio Center will include a new main lobby and gallery area, café, photography studio and lecture hall. MICA has hired Whiting Turner as the general contractor and Cho Benn Holback+Associates as its architect for the 120,000-square-foot building.

Some renovations began in the summer with new glass windows and landscaping to the building’s front entrance, which faces North Avenue.

Sprucing up the building will show that there’s “more life going on in North Avenue,” says Ben Stone, executive director of the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. “Whenever one person invests in an area, other people take notice."

Recent renovations to the Load of Fun gallery and Joe Squared pizza’s addition of outdoor seating, combined with the MICA renovations, ought to breathe more life into that section of North Avenue, Stone says.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Ben Stone, Station North; MICA

Ripley's Museum "On the Right Track" for Summer Opening

City design officials could give the green light for a proposed Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum to open at Harborplace within the next month.

Ripley’s staff put forth a new proposal that reduces the size of their signage and puts the sea creature Chessie on the mall’s second-floor porch. The original plan was to put the 3-D Chessie on the roof, which met with resistance from the city’s Urban Design and Review Panel (UDARP) because it was not in keeping with the look of the downtown shopping center.

“They came in with a scheme that is more doable,” says Robert Quilter of Ripley’s. “It’s definitely on the right track. It’s much more respectful of Harborplace architecture. They’re definitely going to have a presence there," says Quilter, an architect in the city's planning department.

Ripley’s told BmoreMedia that it hopes to open the museum by summer to take advantage of the tourist season.

Known for displaying oddities like the world’s largest sushi roll, the world’s smallest car, and an engraved human skull, Ripley’s operates 31 museums in 18 North American cities. The locations include Atlantic City, San Francisco, San Antonio, and Ocean City, Maryland.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Bob Quilter, Baltimore City

Johns Hopkins Hospital's Six-Year, $1 Billion Expansion to Open in April

After six years of construction, Johns Hopkins Hospital's massive $1 billion-plus expansion will be completed in November and open its doors in April.

Hiring has begun hiring for the nearly 700 workers, largely nurses and other clinicians, needed to staff the new hospital, says Ted Chambers, administrator for the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

The 1.6 million-square-foot hospital will include two connected 12-story towers: one for cardiovascular and critical care and the other to house a children’s hospital.

The expanded hospital will include more lounge and support areas for families.

“It’s a huge change for us and gives us the ability to serve families in a way we’ve never done before,” Chambers says. “The buildings will be a lot quieter and restful.”

Funding for the twin towers comes primarily from New York Mayor and Johns Hopkins University alum Michael Bloomberg and Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The new complex will include 560 patient beds—355 for adults and 205 for children.

Other features include:
• 224 adult acute care rooms;
• 96 adult intensive care rooms;
• 35 obstetrics rooms;
• 120 pediatric acute care rooms; and,
• 85 pediatric intensive care rooms.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Ted Chambers, Johns Hopkins Hospital

Portion of Johns Hopkins Hospital to be Converted to Office Space

Johns Hopkins Hospital will spruce up and modernize its 122-year-old main building once it opens its massive new twin towers.

Completed in 1889, the hospital’s iconic, bright-red Queen-Anne-style building will undergo a three-year renovation that will begin in the summer, says Ted Chambers, administrator for the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

The hospital’s $1 billion expansion, which includes separate wings for cardiovascular and pediatric care, will be completed in November and open in April. It has been under construction since 2006.

Chambers says the hospital does not yet have an estimate as to how much the renovation of the old hospital will cost. A good chunk of the building will be converted to office space for faculty and staff. The conversion will include the children’s center since the new hospital will include a new children's hospital.

The old hospital will also house training for nursing and other clinical staff.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Ted Chambers, Johns Hopkins Hospital

Carroll County Hospital Takes Over Cancer Center Operations

Carroll Hospital Center has taken over the operations of a neighboring cancer care unit and plans to build a new cancer hospital in two years.

The Westminster hospital has renamed the Carroll Cancer Center the Carroll Regional Cancer Center, which it took over from national health care network US Oncology. It has added hematologist/oncologist Dr. Johanna DiMento to the cancer center's 75-person staff, says Carroll Cancer Center Chief Operating Officer Leslie Simmons.

Health care executives wanted to provided care under one roof and offer a broader range of services, Simmons says.

Hospital executives are getting ready to launch a fundraising campaign so it can begin construction on an entirely new cancer care building in 2013. Simmons says she did not yet have a cost estimate for the project.

The hospital's goal is to construct a building on its campus.

"The current center is at capacity," Simmons says. "There's interest in expanding it and organizing care."

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Leslie Simmons, Carroll Hospital Center

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