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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 [email protected] to reserve a space in advance.
Source:  Ben Stone, executive director of the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Cultural Arts Center Slated for Downtown

A pair of local entrepreneurs hopes a planned cultural arts center will bring new economic vitality to the Howard Street corridor.
Renwick Bass and his business partner, Dr. Larry Gaston, plan to open a 13,500-square-foot cultural center and banquet hall in a former bank building at the intersection of Howard and W. Mulberry Streets near downtown Baltimore. And three more could open in other parts of the city. 
The pair plans to invest around $750,000 to turn the former Liberty Savings and Loan into a youth development and cultural arts center offering classes in the performing and fine arts. The pair also hope to partner with local theater groups, musicians, and dancers to host performances at the space. Shows will be accompanied by gourmet food catered by local businesses as well as the culinary arts program at Stratford University, the former Baltimore International College. Art classes for seniors are also in the works, Bass says. 

The pair plan to finance the center without outside funds, but are planning to fundraise and possibly partner with businesses to cover operating costs until the centers become profitable, Bass says. 

The Downtown Cultural Arts Center is one of four cultural centers planned for Baltimore. Other center locations will be based on interest and need in the local community and locations have not yet been established, but Bass hopes to open additional centers in  West, East, and Southeast Baltimore.  
Renovations on the property are currently underway with a planned completion date in the next two weeks, but the property still needs approval from the city's zoning appeals board before opening.
Some of the renovations to the building include general cosmetic and electrical work, adding a dance floor and a stage, and installing a music production studio. Hiring for the center is currently underway, as Bass plays to hire 15 instructors to teach creative and performing arts classes.
A Baltimore native, Bass has honed his skills mentoring youth over the past 25 years. In 2006, Bass, along with two partners, founded a mentoring program, Blueprints for Youth, Inc. that has operated within the Baltimore City Public Schools.
While not an artist himself, Bass encouraged his daughter to participate in the arts and saw an increased sense of focus. He became convinced that youth have a better chance of being successful if they participate in the arts.
Additionally, Bass observed a disparity in communities where families don't have the resources to send their children to expensive arts programs. One of the goals of the center is to make classes affordable for parents to send their children to get arts enrichment, Bass says.
Bass hopes that The Downtown Arts and Cultural Center is just the first part of major renovations and an influx of new businesses to Howard Street and in a section of the city that struggles with vacancy.
Bass and Gaston also own and operate The Shops at Charles and North a retail location at 23 E. North Ave.
Bass believes that their business made a positive contribution to businesses along North Avenue, helping to attract additional business and contribute to the area’s revitalization. He hopes that now he can be part of a transformation of North Howard Street.
“The history of the arts and dance is in downtown Baltimore, and soon the whole of Howard Street will be revitalized,” Bass says.
The zoning appeal for the property will be held April 3. Bass hopes to open the center immediately following the hearing, if approved. 

Source: Renwick Bass
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

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

New Event Center and Restaurant Planned for Cherry Hill

A two-story restaurant and event center offering live music, dinner theatre, and comedy shows is slated to open in late February in Baltimore's Cherry Hill neighborhood.

Angels Event Center aims to provide a place for local talent to be showcased in a community that doesn't have many dining and entertainment options, Owner Julie Mosteller says.

"If you provide something, people will come,” Mosteller says. “Everyone has an opportunity to change. I want to be part of that positive change.”

The downstairs of the building will be a restaurant – whose menu is still being developed -- and the upstairs will hold entertainment. Mosteller says two jazz groups are lined up to perform and that she plans to provide an intimate and authentic dinner theatre experience.

Mosteller, a Baltimore native, graduated from Western High School and spent five years working as a Baltimore police officer. She also served in the military and is using some of her veteran’s benefits to start the business. Mosteller declined to disclose the amount she's invested in the event center, but the project is her first restaurant. 

Additionally, Mosteller hopes to empower people in the community by offering events at the center such as financial literacy workshops.

Angels Event Center is located at 1810 Cherry Hill Rd. in Baltimore.

Writer: Alexandra Wilding
Source: Julie Mosteller

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

Federal Hill Gets Boutique, Brewpub

Beer lovers and fashionistas may start spending more time in Federal Hill.

Brightside Boutique and Art Studio and the Brewer’s Cask bar and restaurant both opened this month.

They are the latest businesses to debut in Federal Hill as neighborhood promoters work to fill vacancies. Cheese Galore and More and Republic Noodle opened in the fall.

After several years in New York working for Diane von Furstenberg and Nanette Lepore, Towson University graduate Christie Griffiths wanted to return to Baltimore. Located at 1136 S. Charles St., Brightside sells floral tops, vintage clothing, jewelry, handbags and shoes.

Mindful of the economy, Griffiths says she is selling pieces that cost less than $100.

“I love the neighborhood,” Griffiths says. “There’s tons of bars but not a lot of shopping.”

And speaking of bars, the Brewer’s Cask pours 20 draft beers on tap and houses 50 bottles.

Jason Stevens and partner Ajay Singh are keeping their day jobs in IT, and taking turns working nights at the 100-seat brewpub, Stevens says.

The 2,500-square-foot pub was formerly Muggsy’s and opened Jan. 5, just hours after the business received its liquor license, Stevens says.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Christie Griffiths, Brightside; Jason Stevens, Brewer's Cask

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.

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

Phillips Express Location at Maryland Live Could Serve Dim Sum

Phillips Seafood is opening an express location at the $500 million Maryland Live Casino near Arundel Mills next year.

Phillips’ Director of Marketing Michelle Torres compares it to the Phillips Seafood Express it operates in the Maryland House Welcome Center in Aberdeen. She says the company has yet to determine the exact square footage and menu of the new spot, but expects it will serve salads, wraps, crab cakes and possibly dim sum.

Opening in the summer, the casino spot will be located in a food court and offer counter service. It will be the local restaurant and seafood company’s second Cordish Co. location. It opened its new Inner Harbor restaurant at Cordish’s Power Plant this month, after 31 years at Harborplace.

It will be Phillips' sixth express location. The others are located at Boston's Logan International Airport, Atlantic City and FedEx Field. The average express location is between 600 and 1,000 square feet and employs five to 10.

Asked whether Phillips will open other spots in Cordish locations, Torres says she is “very hopeful.”

“We see [Cordish] as a long-term partner.”

The casino is slated to include a restaurant operate by Bobby Flay, a Cheesecake Factory and Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Michelle Torres, Phillips

National Pinball Museum Relocates to Baltimore

The National Pinball Museum is coming to Baltimore. Fans of pinball and classic game machines will soon have the chance to explore the museum's offerings at the Inner Harbor.
First opened in a retail center location in DC's Georgetown, the National Pinball Museum has opted to move into a new, larger space at Power Plant Live. The National Pinball Museum's new location in a sprawling 12,000 square foot space will offer owner David Silverman the opportunity to fully develop his concept for the facility.
The museum will display snippets of Silverman's collection of  more than 900 pinball machines. Displays ranging from historic French bagatelle style games to more modern games based on popular pop culture properties will allow games enthusiasts to explore the history of the classic game. The new National Pinball Museum will feature two floors of action, including playable “pay to play” machines of many varieties, party rooms and educational programs.
Tiffani Huskey, Director of Operations, adds, “The welcome we’ve received from Baltimore has been overwhelming. We are honored to become part of a community that values the art, history, and pastime of pinball. We’re looking forward to building partnerships with local organizations and businesses to launch our Education and Community Outreach Program as soon as possible.”
The original Georgetown location of the National Pinball Museum opened in 2010 and cost approximately $300,000. The new museum location is expected to be significantly more expensive. The National Pinball museum drew more than 6,000 visitors in its 9 months of operation, a number that the museum hopes to exceed in Baltimore.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Tiffani Huskey,  National Pinball Museum

Howard County Opening New Center to Greet Visitors

The Howard County Tourism Office is getting more space to tout its attractions.

A welcome center on the second floor of its downtown Ellicott City office will open in the next month, featuring information on the county's restaurants, art galleries, bike trails and shopping, says Howard County Tourism Executive Director Rachelina Bonacci. The 3,000-square-foot space will also showcase Howard County history, including its Native American heritage and its role in the Civil and Revolutionary Wars.

The county, which purchased the building in 2007, is spending about $525,000 to spruce up with space with new paint, HVAC and other renovations, says Jim Irvin, director of public works.

“We’ll finally have a welcome center that reflects the community,” Bonacci says. “We serve an educated, affluent community and we’ll have a space that can show off what the county has to offer.”

Last year Money magazine named Howard County’s Columbia and Ellicott City one of the best small towns in America.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Rachelina Bonacci, Howard County Tourism; Jim Irvin, Howard County

Developer Mulling $25 Million Hotel Expansion Near Arundel Mills

A new hotel near Arundel Mills could begin a $25 million expansion in a couple of years to meet the demand for rooms the owners expect once a slots casino opens.

The 150-room Hotel at Arundel Preserve could add another 100 rooms, says hotel General Manager Jeff Makhlouf. Construction would not begin until 2012.

The expansion would occur in a lot next to the boutique hotel.

Makhlouf describes the property as a “unique” product in an area that holds largely chain brands. The rooms are about two-thirds full now, but Makhlouf expects occupancy to hit 85 percent once the Cordish Co. builds its casino and entertainment complex next year.

If it doesn’t expand the hotel, developer Southern Management will build a Class A office building instead, Makhlouf says. It depends on whether it can get an anchor tenant to occupy the first few floors of the building.

The Vienna, Va., company is now conducting a feasibility study to determine the best use.

The Hotel at Arundel Preserve is part of a $150 million development that includes 242 apartments and several restaurants. The 156-seat Grillfire restaurant opened in July. Indian restaurant Rangoli will open in the next couple of months.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Jeff Makhlouf, Hotel at Arundel Preserve

Phillips Seafood's New Location to Feature Live Entertainment

Fans of Phillips Seafood can expect to hear musicians strumming a guitar or hitting the piano keys when its new location opens at Cordish Cos.' Power Plant development.

The 17,000-square-foot restaurant will replace the shuttered ESPNZone and marks a major move for the iconic Maryland restaurant that has anchored Harborplace for 31 years.

The Power Plant location will open late October, says Phillips' Senior Vice President John Knorr.

A crab deck open from April to October will feature live acoustic guitar while the lobby will feature a piano bar. Restaurant executives hope that live music will keep guests longer, Knorr says. Music played on the floating barge will also hopefully draw attention to the restaurant.

Shifting east on the Inner Harbor will put Phillips closer to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the area's top tourist attraction. Both Phillips and the aquarium get a lot of business from families.  

Phillips will hire up to 250 to staff the restaurant, with peak employment in the summer. The location will seat 500, with about 200 outdoors.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. will replace Phillips' Harborplace location, set to close at the end of September.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: John Knorr, Phillips

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