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Day spa moving into former Salamander Books' spot on Charles Street

Downtown residents will have a place to relax and unwind this month when a Parkside neighborhood spa moves to the neighborhood.
Simple Wellness Hair and Day Spa will relocate from 4327 Plainfield Ave. to 519 North Charles St. March 16. The new location will hold more space and hopefully generate more foot traffic, co-owner Angela Hardy says.
Simple Wellness offers holistic care, incorporating techniques to target the mind, body and soul. That includes therapeutic massages, facials, hair styling and nail treatments. Hardy advocates natural ingredients and makes her own natural oil blend for hair and scalp treatments. Nail treatments include brands like Scotch Naturals that don’t use acrylic. The spa will also provide monthly package deals, and customers can rent the space for spa parties.
Hardy opened the spa in 2007 in a two-bedroom home slightly under 1,000 square feet. The newly rented space, which is the former location of Salamander Books, is 1,500 square feet.
The spa currently employs four and Hardy is hiring nine to style hair, provide massages and do nails. Hardy studies Trichology, a field that combines medicine and cosmetics to treat the hair and scalp. She plans to incorporate this more into spa services in the future, including consultations where she can help treat conditions of the hair and scalp while referring customers to physicians.
Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Angela Hardy, co-owner of Simple Wellness Hair and Day Spa

Peabody Heights Brewery hiring and expanding production

Things are hopping at the Peabody Heights Brewery.

The 50,000-square-foot Charles Village brewery produced its first beer in December, and is building up production, says Stephen Demczuk, one of three co-owners, along with J. Hollis B. Albert III and Patrick Beille.

Peabody is expected to reach its first year projection of 10,000 barrels this year, says Albert, also the brewery’s general manager. The co-owners’ long-range goal is hitting the 35,000-barrel mark. 

Peabody currently employs 6, but may hire additional staff for the warehouse.

“As we ramp up production, of course [hiring] is going to increase,” Demczuk says.  “We have to start slow.”

Peabody is a co-op brewery, which means it brews and distributes beer for local craft brewers. It currently produces three beers: Baltimore-Washington Beer Works’ Raven Beer, Full Tilt Brewing’s Baltimore Pale Ale and Red Center Amber from Public Works Ale. The beers can be found in liquor stores, restaurants and grocery stores in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. It will soon begin selling in West Virginia, California and New York. It's one of the many breweries and beer-themed restaurants that have been growing in Greater Baltimore. Another one is underway as investors ressurect the former Pabst Brewing Co. building in South Baltimore. 

Peabody Heights Brewery is located in the old Capital Beverage bottle plant at 401 East 30th St., which moved out about three years ago. In April, the owners started the building overhaul. This includes installing an activated charcoal filter to remove chlorine and any impurities beer lovers don’t want in their brew.

“That’s the start of our beer, so our beer, batch to batch, is going to be consistent,” Albert says.

Currently, there is no Peabody Heights beer, but hopefully will be someday, Albert says.

**Correction. An earlier version of this story said that the brewery is hiring up to 80. It was based on incorrect information that was given to BmoreMedia. 

Writer: Amy Landsman
Sources: Stephen Demczuk, owner, Baltimore Washington Beerworks, co-owner Peabody Heights Brewing; J. Hollis B. Albert III, co-owner and general manager, Peabody Heights Brewing

Senator Theatre could reopen in May

The owners of the Senator Theatre will wrap up its $3 million restoration this spring and expect the historic North Baltimore landmark to open at the end of May after a year of closure.
The once aging, single-screen theater will open with four screens and a 50- to 75-seat wine bar, says Co-owner Kathleen Cusack.
The yearlong renovation includes restoring the murals, installing new seats and getting a new chandelier for the 74-year-old Art Deco-style theater. Kathleen and her father James “Buzz” Cusack spent $1 million on the repairs, while the remaining money for the restoration came from a bank loan and city and state money.
“We’ve been working on this project since 2009 and it’s been a very labor intensive process. We’re happy to see things finally moving along,” Cusack says.
The theater will show mostly big Hollywood productions when it opens and house a total of 1,080 seats. The main auditorium will hold 770 while the other three will contain 150, 85 and 75 seats.
Baltmore City bought the theater three years ago for $810,000 after it went into foreclosure. It sold it to the Cusacks in September at a $310,000 loss.
The Cusacks operate the Station North Arts & Entertainment District’s Charles Theater, which shows mostly independent movies. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Kathleen Cusack

Entrepreneur opening 10 Smoothie King locations in Greater Baltimore

Locust Point residents will have a spot to fill their craving for fruity drinks like Mangosteen Madness and Celestial Cherry High when Baltimore City’s first Smoothie King opens next month.
Franchisee Minseok Yu will open the Smoothie King at 851 East Fort Ave. by April. Yu says he plans to open 10 Smoothie Kings in Greater Baltimore and is currently looking for a location for his second store in Canton or the Inner Harbor.
Yu previously owned commercial property in his native country of Korea and will be moving to Baltimore the end of this month. He invested $250,000 in the franchise, which includes rent, training and travel fees. The 1,200-square-foot space was formerly a tanning salon. Yu says he believes Locust Point will be a good location for the first store because the neighborhood is growing but still could still use more retail.
Yu noticed how popular Smoothie Kings are in his native country. When he came to visit his brother who lives in Baltimore, he was surprised that there wasn’t a Smoothie King in the city. “A lot of people in the city go to the Smoothie King across from the Towson Mall,” Yu says. Yu says he plans to hire 10 employees for the first location.
Smoothie King is a health store that offers fresh-blended smoothies, vitamins and herbs, nutritional supplements and sports nutrition products. There are over 600 Smoothie King locations in the United States, Korea, Singapore and the Caymans. The company is headquartered in New Orleans.
Source: Minseok Yu, Smoothie King franchisee
Writer: Jolene Carr

Baltimore's Horseshoe Casino to feature six local food outlets

South Baltimore’s gambling parlor will hold a steakhouse, two other full-service restaurants and a Baltimore food “marketplace” that represents Charm City’s local flavors.
That’s according to Chad Barnhill, general manager of the $400 million Horseshoe Casino Baltimore that will open at 525 Russell St. in the summer of 2014. CBAC Gaming LLC, a consortium led by Caesar’s Entertainment Corp. and Rock Gaming LLC, is spearheading the development of the 140,000-square-foot casino. 
CBAC Gaming will own the steakhouse and will partner with two restaurateurs for the other two eateries, one of who will be a celebrity chef, Barnhill says.
“We’re having great discussions with a celebrity chef,” says Barnhill, who declined to name the chef since the deal has not yet been finalized.
The Baltimore marketplace will feature six smaller food outlets with a common seating area as part of a 20,000-square-foot food hall showcasing some of the city’s most popular crab cakes, pizza and burgers.
“We want to really lease out the spots to Baltimore’s best. We’re working hard to be Baltimore’s casino by the offerings.”
The casino will break ground over the next several weeks, once it receives all of the permits, Barnhill says.

The two-story casino near M&T Bank Stadium will feature slot machines and table games and employ 1,700. Of those workers, 500 will work at the table games. The casino is also going for LEED certification

In November, Maryland voters approved the controversial measure to include table games at the state's casinos. The Hollywood Casino Perryville began featuring table games this month and Maryland Live casino at Arundel Mills will debut table games April 11. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Chad Barnhill, Horseshoe Casino 

Marketplace at Fells Point signs lease with neighborhood Main Street group

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sewing supply shop opening in Highlandtown

Baltimore seamstresses take note: a new shop carrying yarn, crochet hooks, buttons, sewing supplies and knitting needles is opening March 1 in Highlandtown.
Baltimore Threadquarters 1,880-square-foot store will open at 518 South Conkling St., with space for retail in the front and a classroom, kid’s room and sewing room in the back. Owners Marlo Jacobson and Allison Fomich will also sell vintage fiber arts supplies and an assortment of Cascade brand yarns that range from $2 synthetic to $20 Alpaca fur yarns. Some items come from estate sales and others are handmade by local artists.
The owners established an Indiegogo crowdfunding page to help raise the money needed to pay six teachers and buy materials. Their goal is to raise $5,000. The entrepreneurs searched for space in their neighborhood and found the first floor of the Botteon Building through the Southeast Community Development Corp.
With a background in nonprofits and doll making, Jacobson teamed with jewelry maker Fomich when she couldn’t find fiber art materials in the city.

“We want these services and supplies available for city people," Fomich says. "It all started when we couldn’t find them. If you have to go out to the county each time it becomes daunting. Now you can go to the farmers' market, go to the library and then come here.”
Writer: Jolene Carr
Sources: Marlo Jacobson and Allison Fomich, co-owners of Baltimore Threadquarters

Towson University doubling size of math and science building

Towson University is doubling the size of the building that houses its math and science school.

Construction on the 106,000-square-foot, $156 million expansion of Smith Hall won’t begin for at least another two years, says Scott Guckert, Towson’s director of construction services.

Smith is actually two connected buildings, built in 1964 and 1976 respectively, both of which are out of date, Guckert says.

Since the late 1990’s, all Towson students have been required to take at least two science courses to graduate, all of which are offered in Smith Hall. This has put a lot of pressure on the facility. At the same time, enrollment is now more than 20,000, compared to about 15,500 when Smith Hall was originally designed.

“We’re looking at a more green facility, something that will be LEED certified,” says Guckert, who says the building will feature improved technology, clean rooms, and breakout collaborative spaces.

Work is scheduled to start this September on a new pedestrian bridge, connecting Towson’s east side, which houses academic buildings, with its west village campus.

The bridge will rise above an existing intersection at Osler Drive and Towsontown Boulevard. The $15 million undertaking also includes a relocated traffic signal, improved wheelchair access and an additional athletic field.

The bridge is expected to be completed by summer, 2014.

Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Scott Guckert, Towson University director of construction services

Northeast Market begins $2M facelift

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kilwins ice cream and dessert shop opening in Fells

Life is hectic but sweet for an Anne Arundel county couple opening Kilwins ice cream and dessert shop franchises in Fells Point and Anne Arundel County’s Crofton.

Dave and Karen Gilmore will open the 1,500-square-foot Fells Point shop in May at 1625 Thames St. Located at the former site of children’s clothing boutique the Corduroy Button, the 20-person shop will sell fresh chocolates, chocolate-dipped apples, fudge and ice cream. The Corduroy Button, an upscale children’s clothing store, has moved a few doors down to 1636 Thomas Street.

Karen Gilmore says the Fells Point store, which will be next to aMuse toys, should appeal to both families and tourists.

Just under 1,300 square feet, the Crofton location will employ between as many as 20 when it opens in April.

“The point of going to a Kilwins store is really to experience with all your five senses, with the sights of products being made in the store,” Gilmore says.

Michigan-based Kilwins has been expanding in recent years, and now has more than 80 stores. Its one Maryland store is in Annapolis, though some locals may be familiar with the shop from their vacations in Florida or Rehoboth Beach, Del.

“We weren’t worried about people not knowing the brand, and the quality of the product,” Gilmore says. “I’d say about three-quarters of the people we’ve talked with either already know about it, or are really excited about the fact that there will be one in their neighborhood.”

Opening a Kilwins' franchise costs $40,000 for the initial franchise fee. Equipment, promotions, real estate and other expenses can run nearly $500,000.
Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Karen Gilmore, co-owner Kilwins in Fells Point and Waugh Chapel

Coal Fire Pizza taking over former Carmine's space at Hunt Valley Towne Centre

Come June, restaurant owner Dennis Sharoky won’t have to travel far to enjoy his own pizza.

Sharoky is spending $750,000 to open his fifth Coal Fire Pizza at Hunt Valley Towne Centre, not far from his northern Baltimore County home in Sparks. Sharoky says the 3,500-square-foot location will be completely renovated, and will feature a coal-burning oven made in Washington state and shipped to Hunt Valley. The restaurant will seat 80 and employ 30.

“I live in that area. Everyone I know asks ‘Why do I have Coal Fire’s everywhere else and not where I live?’” Sharoky says.

Sharoky owns Coal Fire restaurants in Ellicott City, Gaithersburg, Frederick, and Gambrills. Coal Fire is taking over the spot previously occupied by Carmine’s NY Pizzeria, which has closed. Anchored by Wegmans, Hunt Valley Towne Centre's tenants include Calvert Wine & Spirits, DSW Shoe Warehouse, Dick's Sporting Goods and Plow & Hearth. 

Coal fire has a 900-degree oven that chars the pizza.

“It’s a lot of work to get it charred," Sharoky says. "It takes a lot of training to work a coal oven. There’s a lot of hot spots in the oven, you have to rotate it. You have to pay attention to it,” says Sharoky, who trains his pizza chefs in house.

In addition to the pizzas, Coal Fire also uses the coal ovens to bake chicken wings.

Coal Fire features fresh mozzarella, made in-house daily, and a choice of three homemade sauces, a traditional Italian plum tomato sauce, a signature sauce sweetened with a little honey and with just a touch of heat, and a spicy sauce.

Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Dennis Sharoky, principal owner of Coal Fire Pizza

Harris Teeter on target to open Ellicott City and Canton stores

Harris Teeter is opening its Ellicott City store April 3, according to a company spokeswoman, even as the North Carolina grocer considers a sale to two private equity firms.

It does not yet have an opening date for its Canton Crossing shop to open in a shopping center along with Target, Michael's, Five Below and local Greek restaurant Samos. The company says in a statement that it will "continue its strategic, new store growth plan." 

The grocery store will anchor a $22 million open-air shopping center called Town Square at Turf Valley. The site will also feature three or four restaurants and 10 to 15 shops totaling 100,000 square feet, says Tom Fitzpatrick, president of Owings Mills developer Greenberg Gibbons Commercial Corp.

The 48,000-square-foot Ellicott City Harris Teeter will be the grocer's eighth Maryland store. It opened a store in Baltimore City late last year, anchoring Locust Point’s McHenry Row. The Turf Valley store will employ 115, Jones says.

Located at the Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center, the new shopping center will have many of the same features as Greenberg’s Hunt Valley Towne Centre and Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole, including an outdoor gathering space with fireplace and water fountains. It will feature all-brick landscaping and exterior.

Fitzpatrick says he hopes the 100,000-square-foot center will draw from Clarksville, Glenelg and other affluent communities in western Howard County.

Restaurants will be of the upscale casual variety, rather than fine dining, Fitzpatrick says. He declined to name the restaurants and shops slated to open until a formal announcement is made later this year.

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

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Tom Fitzpatrick, Greenberg Gibbons; Danna Jones, Harris Teeter

Restaurant supply company opening 57K warehouse and store in East Baltimore

No pots, pans or cooking gadgets? No problem.
The Clark Associates Companies will be opening a Restaurant Store location at 121 Kane St. in East Baltimore by mid-March. The location is near Patterson Park and Johns Hopkins Bayview.
The 57,200-square-foot retail store and warehouse will carry everything from napkins, utensil, fryers, stockpots restaurant supplies and equipment for individuals, restaurants, schools and the food service industry. Items will cost anywhere from 10 cents to $10,000.
The Restaurant Store will be a cash and carry shop, meaning customers will be able to find most of their items in store and pay with check, cash or credit, Bechtold says. The warehouse will have 60,000 items in stock and those that aren’t will take about two days to ship.

Clark Associate’s parent company Calumet Enterprises bought the building for $2 million from F&M Development LLC last year, according to state property records.
The Baltimore Restaurant Store will be Clark Associates’ seventh location, with six others in Pennsylvania and Delaware. The Baltimore store will hire 15 employees. Maryland seemed like a natural place to expand as the Lancaster, Pa., company grows in the mid-Atlantic, Marketing Manager Melissa Bechtold says. The other locations mainly do business with local, family owned restaurants, but also have corporate customers like Sheetz, Starbucks and Sonic, Controller Brad Fortna says. If all goes well in Baltimore, the company may open a location near Washington, D.C., next.
Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Melissa Bechtold, marketing manager at Clark Associates; Brad Fortna, controller at Clark Associates

UMBC seeks state money for $13M in road upgrades

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County is laying the foundation for two major construction projects: the second phase of its $125 million humanities and performing arts building, and a proposed $12.9 million new entrance on UMBC Boulevard and Hilltop Circle at its Catonsville campus.

Funding for the project is included in Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed fiscal 2014 budget. If the Maryland Legislature approves the governor’s proposal, the money will be available in July.

Campus architect Joe Rexing says preliminary engineering and design work will begin then if the budget is approved. If all goes well, construction will start in late spring of 2014.

“We are very hopeful. I think it gives us some confidence that it shows up in the governor’s proposed budget,” Rexing says.

After numerous rear-end collisions, UMBC officials expect the new entryway will make the campus a lot safer by replacing existing stop signs with two roundabouts. The plans also call for roadway improvement and landscaping on Hilltop Circle, and upgrades to the garage.

Traffic on the campus has grown along with enrollment, which has risen by nearly 25 percent since 2000 to nearly 13,000 undergraduates and graduate students.

Rexing says vehicles tend to go fast as they exit I-95 and Rolling Road, heading onto the campus via UMBC Boulevard. Vehicles also tend to stack up in the ramps during rush hour, also leading to crashes and problems.

“The interchange dates from the 60’s,” says Rexing, explaining the school plans to replace existing stop signs with two roundabouts.

As campus officials plot the road project, another major construction project is entering its second phase.  

The second phase, which includes a 350-seat concert hall and recording studio, is under construction and will open in the fall of 2014.
The first phase of the school’s new 178,000 square-foot performing arts and humanities building opened in September. It’s now home to the theater and English departments, three new writing labs, a 275-seat proscenium theater, a 120-seat black box theater and rehearsal space.
Writer: Amy Landsman
Sources: Joseph Rexing, UMBC architect; John Jeffries, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

ETC scouts Station North, UMB BioPark for new location

The head of the Emerging Technology Center in Canton says she is eyeing the Station North Arts & Entertainment District and the BioPark at the University of Maryland, Baltimore among possible locations when the incubator's Canton lease is up in October.

Several growing firms have moved out of the ETC's Canton location recently to bigger offices and some where prompted by the fact that the incubator's future in Canton is uncertain.

Deborah Tillett, executive director of the Emerging Technology Centers, says the ETC is in talks with landlords in both locations.

“There’s a lot going on in both of those places,” says Tillett, who described the areas as “exciting and vibrant” with a “lot going on.”

The Station North area is attracting investment from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a number of private developers. Located on the city's west side, the UMB BioPark's tenants include Noxilizer, Gliknik and PathSensors. In conjunction with Advanced Particle Therapy LLC of San Diego, the biopark is building a $200 million proton treatment cancer center.

Tillet says that she isn’t ruling out staying in its current home, the retail and office complex known as the Can Company where the ETC has about 40,000 square feet. Also on the table is moving to the ETC’s other location @ Johns Hopkins Eastern on 33rd Street.

“We’ve taken a look all over the city,” Tillett says. “We’re exploring all kinds of options. I do need to keep my options open.”

Operated by the Baltimore Development Corp., the ETC’s tenants include early-stage tech, biotech, engineering and design companies. Storyfarm New Media LLC, Urban Design Group LLC and Localist recently moved out of the ETC’s Canton location. Groove Commerce is moving to a 10,000-square-foot space in the Fallsway Spring building.

Video production company Storyfarm moved this month to a 1,500-square-foot office at 1909 Thames St. in Fells Point. Storyfarm was lured by the waterfront location and a chance to split an office with architecture firm Urban Design Group, says Storyfarm Partner Dan Gerlach. The company, whose clients include T. Rowe Price Group Inc. and Exxon Mobil, employs seven. It will hire a video editor, cinematographer and office coordinator over the next several months.
Last month, Localist moved to a 1,500-square-foot office in Canton’s the Broom Factory, at 3500 Boston St. The company, which provides a customizable online calendar for universities, needed more space, CEO Mykel Nahorniak says. Localist employs six and is hiring a developer and someone to run customer service. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Deborah Tillett, ETC; Dan Gerlach, Storyfarm; Mykel Nahorniak, Localist 
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