What's Missing in Baltimore?
Fells Point residents want to let their dogs off the leash. Locust Point lacks a full-service bakery. Bolton Hill residents hope to one day walk to a grocer.
Baltimore City’s neighborhoods are continually evolving, and, after years of recession, development is picking up speed. New restaurants line downtown’s Pratt Street and South Baltimore is now home to upscale grocer Harris Teeter.
But there are still businesses and services lacking—and residents who long for them.
Some requests are far-reaching, while others are in the works. Whether it's a large retailer or a neighborhood mom-and-pop shop, Baltimore City residents agree on one necessary factor—convenience.
Where’s the bakery?
“I miss Simon’s,” laments Locust Point resident, Kaitlin McCormick, referring to the “hole-in-the-wall” Cockeysville bakery that she frequented while living in Baltimore County. “On a Sunday morning, I want a warm cinnamon bun or and apple Danish or maybe even a raspberry kuchen
. The grocery store just doesn’t cut it.”
The now-shuttered Caroline’s Cupcakery and Harvest Table seem like possible bakery locales. An Under Armour representative says that it has not been determined how Harvest Table’s space will be used as the organization expands.
Locust Point residents can stop at Cross Street Market’s bakeries in Federal Hill—when they’re open.
“I've heard residents say they would like to see the market open on Sundays,” says Federal Hill Main Street Executive Director Jane Seebold.
Even if the market is open, insufficient parking is an ever-present obstacle.
“Parking is getting worse, and there are only bigger developments planned,” says SouthBMore.com creator Kevin Lynch. “South Baltimore is a top entertainment district in Baltimore, yet we only have one small parking garage.”
A walk in the dog park
Fells Point shares parking gripes with Federal Hill, but another issue overshadows limited street spots.
“Fells Point is in desperate need of a dog park,” says resident, Jamie Yauch.
Jacquie Greff, FellsPoint.us creator and webmaster (and owner of two large dogs) estimates that 20 percent to 30 percent of Fells Point residents own dogs. Many used Bond Street Wharf’s grassy patch until “no dogs” signs appeared.
Several locations have been named as potential parks, including the predominantly vacant area south of Harbor East, a grassy space at S. Caroline, Block, and Willis Streets, and a lot along Thames Street.
“There is an area south of the Marketplace [at Fells Point] which will be developed by the City,” shares Dave Holmes, who is leading a $5 million renovation of Broadway Market. Massachusetts firm Dolben Co. acquired the rights to develop the retail and apartment component of the $40 million urban redevelopment plan.
The city is spearheading the design of a pedestrian space called the Square, which will occupy the 800 block of S. Broadway. But due to its raised elevation and need to function in a variety of ways throughout the year, it’s not ideal for a dog park, Holmes says.
He says that an early community brainstorming session introduced the idea of a dog park, but some residents rejected the plan.
Hungry for more eateries
There’s plenty of green space in Mt. Washington, but residents want more coffee shops aside from the Starbucks at Mt. Washington Mill. Rebecca Reddit considers it a place to grab coffee and leave, whereas the now-shuttered the Falls encouraged sitting and catching up with neighbors.
(The Falls will soon be occupied by
Blue Sage Café and Wine Bar). A Mexican restaurant, a good barbeque spot and a burger joint were also on Mt. Washington residents’ wish list.
“There is a bar with good burgers, but it's difficult to go there with friends. There is virtually no table seating. I wouldn't take kids there,” resident Deb Kleiner notes.
Hard to find wares
Residents of Mt. Washington and Mount Vernon long for a hardware store.
“I want to go around the corner, not get into the car,” says Mount Vernon resident Kristi Metzger. “It gets me out of the fixing zone and nothing gets done.”
Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association Marketing Chair Susan Warren, adds that a hardware store is residents’ most-requested amenity, and that there are locations available in the neighborhood.
“We have spaces in commercial corridors that would accommodate many desired businesses,” she shares.
Metzger would like to see a laundromat. The multi-unit property owner hears tenants talk of commuting to Charles Village to do laundry.
Residents would also love to see a grocery store larger than the Fresh & Green's.
Bolton Hill residents would be happy to have any quality grocer. Resident Kevin Cross notes that he and his wife usually shop for groceries at Eddie’s of Roland Park on trips to and from their daughter’s school in the neighborhood. Otherwise, they frequent Eddie’s in Mount Vernon.
“That's pretty much what I'd be happy with in Bolton Hill,” Cross says. “Nothing too posh, and not too much pretense.”
Some argue that there is a grocery store in Bolton Hill—the Save-A-Lot on McMechen Street. Linda Rittelman, board member of the Mt. Royal Improvement Association, says that it’s only acceptable for staples like flour and sugar.
“They have little fresh produce, and the meat is less than desirable to me," Rittelman says.
Rittelman suspects that grocers avoid Bolton Hill due to poverty and crime in neighboring communities, as well as the lack of commercial space.
“There were rumors that the Fitzgerald might have a grocer, but nothing panned out,” Rittelman shares. The hope is that University of Baltimore housing and growth from MICA and Station North will entice a quality grocer.
Regardless of the neighborhood, one request continued to pop up from city residents—a Target. For a city that touts its walkability and unique neighborhood shops, residents were quick to request the big-box store.
“People move out of the city for the convenience of stores like Target," says Mount Vernon resident, Gary Bacon.
There has long been speculation of a Target in Canton. Chesapeake Real Estate Group has been in talks
to bring Target and Harris Teeter to the former Exxon Mobil Corp. site.
“We are in talks with some other great anchor tenants and grocers," says Chesapeake Real Estate Group Principal Doug Schmidt. "Nothing is signed yet, but we are getting closer."
Canton resident Sarah Weinberg can't wait. “Most people hate to leave the city. It’s [the desire for] convenience.”
Kaitlin McCormick in Locust Point
William Welsh, 2, in Locust Point
Rooftop view from Locust Point
Kristi Metzger in Mount Vernon
FlowerMart in Mount Vernon
All photographs by STEVE RUARK