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Mount Vernon Coffee House to Open Across From Starbucks

Coffee connoisseurs looking for in-house roasting in Midtown will soon have a specialty coffee shop for espresso fixes and coffee cravings.
TriBeCa Coffee signed a lease for a 1,300 square-foot space at 1210 N. Charles St. where owner James Jean will spend as much as $250,000 to open the 30-seat coffee lovers paradise. Jean expects to open the Mount Vernon shop by early November.
TriBeCa is one of a number of artisan and specialty coffee shops that have opened recently in Baltimore. This summer, Spike Gjerde's Artifact Coffee opened in Hampden and Lamill Coffee opened at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore.
Located near the University of Baltimore close to the intersection of Charles and East Preston Streets, TriBeCa coffee will feature coffee beans from multiple origins, various brewing methods and store-roasted coffee beans.
Jean was drawn to the location for its ample foot traffic due to its proximity to nearby universities such as the Maryland Institute College of Art, University of Baltimore and Peabody Institute.
But Jean will face serious competition from national coffee chain Starbucks, which has a location across the street. By offering coffee at a lower price point, in-house roasting and a complete remodel of a former beauty salon, Jean hopes to encourage customers to get their coffee from TriBeCa as opposed to Starbucks.
A former registered nurse, Jean decided to change careers after two years of nursing and learned how to roast coffee while working in the roasting division of Vermont Artisan Coffee and Tea Co.
He traveled across the country researching how to run his first specialty coffee shop. He plans to hire five employees to work as baristas. 
Source: James Jean, owner of TriBeCa Coffee
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

New Hotel and Retail Building Slated For Harbor East

Hoping to capitalize on increasing growth east of the Inner Harbor, plans are in the works to build a new 205-room hotel with ground-level stores in Harbor East next year. 

Englewood LLC and Chesapeake Real Estate Group have reached an agreement to construct the property and 15,000 square-feet of retail space at a former warehouse building at 511 S. Central Ave. As the primary developer, Englewood will own and operate the hotel.

Chesapeake Real Estate Group will operate the retail space, says Ken Finkelstein, president of Bethesda's Englewood LLC. Construction would take about 18 months to complete if the project gets approvals from the city's zoning and design panels.

The planned hotel will be an upper mid-market brand, which means slightly more upscale than the neighboring Hilton Garden Inn and Courtyard by Marriott, Finkelstein says. He declined to say how much the project would cost or the hotel brand. 

The developers purchased the property at 511 S. Central Ave. in December for $3.2 million, according to state property records. The building is in the preliminary stages of the development process so it's too early to say what kind of shops  will fill the new construction, says Neil Tucker, principal at Chesapeake Real Estate Group.

"This is a pretty dynamic area where lots of growth has occurred and more will occur as Harbor East and Harbor Point expand," says Finkelstein, who launched the development firm within the last year. Finkelstein is a former partner at the JBG Cos. of Chevy Chase, which has developed numerous hotels in the Washington area. 

Finkelstein's new Baltimore hotel will face competition from the 256-room Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, which opened last year in Harbor East, and several other newer properties. But Finkelstein says he believes there is opportunity and room for another hotel in that neighborhood given the area's continued growth. 

Baltimore City officials approved a 3 million-square-foot master plan for Harbor Point, an area between Harbor East and Fells Point. The massive 500,000-square-foot regional headquarters for Chicago energy company Exelon Corp. will open there in 2014. Harbor East has seen an influx of national retailers with the recent openings of J. Crew, Anthropologie and MAC Cosmetics and new restaurants. Gordon Biersch is spending $3 million to open a 329-seat eatery in October while Fleet Street Kitchen will open next month. 
Chesapeake Real Estate Group developed the Babgy Building, which houses Fleet Street, Ten Ten restaurant and several offices.  

"We want to build upon the success of Harbor East with the Babgy Building project," Tucker says.

Source: Ken Finkelstein, president of Englewood LLC; Neil Tucker, principal at Chesapeake Real Estate Group 
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

$16M Assisted Living Complex Breaks Ground in Severna Park

A 140-apartment assisted and independent living facility broke ground last month in Severna Park and the developer of the 140,000-square-foot building plans to open it October of next year.
Brightview Senior Living at 473 Jumpers Hold Rd. is a $16 million project developed by the Shelter Group, which owns and operates Brightview housing. The company operates nine additional facilities in Maryland.
The apartments will be evenly divided between assisted living and independent living housing, and will include 26 units devoted to memory care, says Shelter Senior Development Director Andrew Teeters.
Teeters says there's an incredible need for senior communities in Severna Park as there are no new senior living communities in the area. With an aging population, the company plans to target people over 75 who have raised families in the community and want to live locally.
Some of the features of the facility include a fitness center, a cafe and pub with regular happy hours, a computer center and library with activity rooms. Additional staff such as nurses will be on site to support residents.
Brightview provides market-rate senior housing, and rates in their facilities average approximately $2,500 per month.
Source: Andrew Teeters, senior development director for The Shelter Group
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

New Federal Hill Cafe Serves All-Day Breakfast

Federal Hill residents can now get a breakfast fix morning, noon and night.
Light Street Café opened this month at 1121 Light St., serving breakfast all day Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and until 2 a.m. on weekends.
The roughly 1,000-square-foot space seats 24 but mainly serves as a carryout. Menu items include Town N’ Country coffee and espresso, pancakes, omelets, sandwiches, soups and salads. Meals are modestly priced, like two pancakes for $3.99, three-egg omelets served with bread and home fries for $5.49 and a corned beef or turkey Rueben melt with chips and a pickle for $7.99.
Co-owner Chris Tipton and his wife Norma had wanted to open a café for years and have gotten a good response so far from neighbors. One of the biggest compliments from people who live in Federal Hill is that they’re happy it’s not another bar,” Chris Tipton says.
Light Street Café currently employs eight and will possibly hire more after the business proves successful.

Writer: Jolene Carr
Sources: Chris Tipton

Senator Theatre Could Reopen in the Spring

Construction on the historic Senator Theatre could begin the end of this month or early September now that it has the city's go ahead, says Kathleen Cusack, a co-leasee of the property with her father, Buzz Cusack.

The new Senator with its four movie screens and wine bar could open March 2013, depending on the construction schedule. The city's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation OK'd the Cusacks' plan earlier this month. The entire project is costing $3 million, of which the Cusacks are investing $1 million, and the remainder is from a commercial bank loan and city and state funding.

The Cusacks are now in the process of restoring the main lobby. The original wood paneling and mural are under restoration and professional artists have been hired to do the work, she says. Cusack says the restored theater and its additions will open together, and not in phases. 

The Senator Theatre occupies about 65 percent of its lot, leaving a small area for parking in the rear. Cusack says they are expanding the theater by “filling in the corners” of the lot with the construction of the three new theaters and the wine bar.

The main theater “needs a lot of work,” Cusack says. It formerly seated between 800 to 900 people, but the original seats are being replaced with seats that are larger and more comfortable and she expects its seating capacity to be 770 when the work is done.

Cusack leases The Charles Theater, 1711 North Charles St., in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. But Cusack says that plans for the Senator are quite different from the Charles.
“The Charles is an art house,” says Cusack, and plays films that are often not shown in other venues in Baltimore.  “The Senator has never been an art house. It has always played big Hollywood products. And, we don’t want to compete with the Charles.”
After a competitive process in which four proposals were submitted, Baltimore City last year awarded the Cusacks a 40-year lease on the property. The city bought the theater three years ago after it went into foreclosure. 
One of the new auditoriums will have a seating capacity of 150; the other two auditoriums will seat between 60 to 80 people each. “It will be like any movie theater with multiple screens. The auditoriums will play national movies,” like the Senator itself, she says.
The wine bar will serve light fare and feature outdoor tables along York Road.
“Our vision is to restore the Senator as a beautiful Art Deco movie palace,” says Cusack.
Source: Kathleen Cusack, The Senator Theatre
Writer: Barbara Pash

Federal Hill Sports Shop Hopes For Home Run in New Location

A Federal Hill sports apparel shop is hoping to score with sports fans after moving to a spot that puts it closer to M&T Bank Stadium and Camden Yards.
Bobabooi’s Treasure Chest sells mostly Ravens, Orioles, Natty Boh and Terps gear and will also sell Washington Capitals gear starting in September. Prices range from $5-$100.
Bobabooi’s Treasure Chest relocated from 1129 Light St. to the 500 square-foot location at 1028 South Charles St. when they couldn’t obtain a long-term lease from the previous landlord, Co-owner Angela Lauta says.
Angela and her husband Dan also wanted to find a location closer to the stadium. The Light Street location drew less foot traffic as most of the crowds would gravitate to the bars and eateries, Angela says. The new store is painted bright Orioles orange. 
But the Lautas still wanted to stay in Federal Hill. “There’s no other [stores] around here that just sell sports gear,” Angela says. “We enjoy the fun, festive environment and the diverse crowds.”
They originally considered opening a vintage clothing store but then saw a need for sports apparel. Selling sports apparel also matched their backgrounds in sports as Angela played basketball and track in college and Dan played college football and attended the Giant’s training camp.
The Lautas run the shop themselves and would like to expand and hire more employees once their year-old business grows. They are currently looking for a social media intern to work a couple hours each week, taking pictures of new merchandise and promoting Bobabooi’s online.

Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Angela Lauta, Bobabooi's Treature Chest 

Gordon Biersch Brewery On Tap For Harbor East

Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant is spending $3 million to open a 329-seat eatery in Harbor East, becoming the latest new establishment to call the growing nightlife and shopping destination home. It's also one of the many breweries and beer-themed restaurants enjoying brisk sales

Known for its German lagers, Gordon Biersch will open its third Maryland store at 1000 Lancaster St. Oct. 22. The restaurant will employ around 80 and have at least six beers on tap, says Kelly Wilson, Gordon Biersch’s director of marketing. The building houses Charleston and Harbor Bank of Maryland.

“Harbor East is an attractive urban location that is home to numerous business headquarters as well as hotels to accommodate the business traveler,” the company’s Vice President of Real Estate John Tugman wrote in an email. “Harbor East has potential for growth.”

J. Crew, Anthropologie and MAC Cosmetics recently moved to the area. Last year, the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore opened last, along with celebrity-chef led restaurant Wit & Wisdom. It added outdoor seating for its Wit & Wisdom bar and welcomed Japanese restaurant PABU this year. The hotel also features artisan coffeehouse Lamill Coffee.

Gordon Biersch executives say they will continue to focus on the Baltimore area after having had success in other mid-Atlantic areas. Beer-themed eateries were the fastest-growing restaurant segment last year, according to Chicago food consulting firm Technomic Inc.

Gordon Biersch' sales grew 22 percent last year. The Chattanooga, Tenn., company operates about 30 restaurants in 20 states. Its two Maryland sites are in Annapolis and Rockville. 

Two years ago, private equity firm Centerbridge Capital Partners acquired the chain, now a subsidiary of CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Kelly Wilson and John Tugman, Gordon Biersch 

Towson University Plotting $6M Move of Wellness Center

Towson University is bringing four of its disparate community health and wellness groups into the new Towson City Center building whose anchor tenant moved in this month.
The four centers will take up nearly 47,000 square feet when the university completes its move this week. The Institute for Well-Being is composed of the Center for Adults with Autism; the Occupational Therapy Center; the Speech, Language and Hearing Center; and, the Wellness Center. The university is spending $6 million on the relocation to downtown Towson. 
The university’s radio station WTMD will also move to the new office builiding, making the university one of the largest tenants of the $27 million Towson City Center. Other tenants will include the Bagby Restaurant Group’s farm-to-table restaurant Cunningham’s; anchor tenant MileOne Automotive, which opened doors at the new space Aug. 2; BusinessSuites; and, WMS Partners.
“We’re taking programs that are currently spread out and placing them all together under one roof,” Director of the Institute for Well-Being Sharon Glennen says. “This will allow us to expand.”
The Center for Adults with Autism provides art, music and rock climbing classes to hundreds of autistic clients. The new space will include a 1,500-square-foot model apartment that can be used to prepare autistic adults for independent living.
The Wellness Center, which serves about 325 clients in the community, has a blood lab, a metabolic cart and a Nexus scanner. The roughly 10,000-square-foot new space has a better layout with the exercise studio connected to the other rooms so that staff can better monitor the clients. There are currently six staff members, but more may be added within six to 12 months, Wellness Center Director Scott Fidler says.
The Speech, Hearing and Language Center is the largest of the four organizations, serving more than 1,000. The new space includes two new hearing testing sound booths to make a total of four. There will be two classrooms for fall and spring programs provided to students with disabilities, allowing more attendees than before when the programs were offered at various locations around the community.
The Occupational Therapy will include services for the Stroke Survivor’s Education and Support Group, with a model bathroom and kitchen to retrain stroke survivors in daily living.

Writer: Jolene Carr, 
Source: Sharon Glennen, Towson University 

Odenton To Say Ole to New Mexican Restaurant

The owners of an Anne Arundel County Mexican restaurant are offering area diners a second helping of their burritos, tacos, fajitas and tamales.

The Landaverde family is opening Rinconcito Mexicano at the Odenton Shopping Center by early October, Gloria Landaverde says. 

The business owners are opening the 130-seat eatery because they see a demand for their Mexican fare at their five-year-old Mia Casita, Landaverde says. “Sometimes we get very busy and there’s not enough room.” Patrons wait as long as 30 minutes during busy nights at the Crofton restaurant, she says.

Located on Annapolis Road, Odenton Shopping Center is home to a Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Three Brothers Restaurant and Fashion Bug.

The county recently granted Rinconcito Mexicano a liquor license. It is not affiliated with any other Rinconcito Mexicano restaurants in other cities, Landaverde says.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Gloria Landaverde 

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]

Park Lane Shopping Center Sold For $7M

The New Park Heights Community Development Corp. Inc. finalized a deal this month to buy the Park Lane Shopping Center in Northwest Baltimore for $7 million and is plotting the center's long-awaited redevelopment.
The nonprofit's president and CEO Will J. Hanna II says it bought the shopping center at 4400 Park Heights Ave. with private funding.

Three years ago, Baltimore City and the Baltimore Development Corporation approved a $4 million bond to be used for the redevelopment of the shopping center as part of the Park Heights Revitalization area. Hanna says he expects work to begin in January and to be finished by the fall. Stores at the shopping center, at the corner of Park Heights and Coldspring Lane, will remain open during the work.

Park Lane Shopping Center is 263,000 square feet in size, a figure that includes a large parking lot in the rear. Hanna says it is 85 percent occupied, and current tenants include a Dollar Store, pharmacy, mattress store and check cashing place. The CDC will be seeking a bank and other new tenants once the renovations are done. 
Hanna estimates the shopping center is more than four decades old and says it looks "dated." The redevelopment of the property will include a refacing of the exterior and a reallocation of the size of the spaces within, to allow for more new tenants. 
The construction of a library on part of the rear parking lot is also under consideration. “The community wants and needs a library,” says Hanna. He says he has not contacted Baltimore City’s Enoch Pratt Library System and a library would most likely be a private venture.
To celebrate the acquisition, the community’s annual “National Night Out” will be held at the Park Lane Shopping Center. Hanna says his group is partnering with the Baltimore City Police Department and city agencies for the anti-crime event.
Source: Will J. Hanna II, New Park Heights Community Development Corp. Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash

Community Bank Moves into Fells Point

Fells Point is poised to get a new community bank this fall.
Seeking to attract more customers, the Baltimore branch of CFG Community Bank, will relocate from Lombard Street in Highlandtown to a branch in Fells Point that will open Sept. 17.
The bank will move into a new, 1,000-square-foot location at 1615 Thames St. in Fells Point where it hopes to attract both residential and commercial clients, Branch Manager Curtis Pope says.
Pope previously launched branches of SunTrust and PNC Bank as a manager.

"I like the community side of banking. I love interacting with people, and building the communities we grew up in," Pope says.
The bank's relocation was inspired by a desire to be in an area that is more affluent and has more foot traffic, Pope says. The branch is currently located in a shopping center. 
Pope says the bank plans to help build the community by lending to businesses with a proven track record, including bars and restaurants that sometimes have a harder time getting loans. While some bigger banks might reject some smaller businesses types outright, Pope says CFG Community Bank plans to work with businesses that show potential.
No additional branches are planned at the moment, but Pope says the company could expand in the future.
The bank has locations in Lutherville and Annapolis, and recently relocated its Lutherville branch from Towson to accommodate for more parking and vehicle traffic.
Source: Curtis Pope, branch manager
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Italian Chain Spending $1M to Open White Marsh Restaurant

An Italian restaurant chain is saying buon giorno to Greater Baltimore as it expands its presence in malls owned by General Growth Properties Inc.

Buca di Beppo Italian Restaurant is spending $1 million to open a 250-seat eatery at White Marsh Mall by the end of October.
The company will hire 80 to staff the 7,000-square-foot restaurant, says John Thall, Buca’s senior vice president of business development.

Owned by Planet Hollywood, the Orlando-based chain operates 88 U.S. and seven international locations, including restaurants in   Gaithersburg and Washington, D.C. It recently signed deal with General Growth Properties to open 10 restaurants at its malls in Texas, Illinois, Georgia and six other states.

“Malls attract a lot of energy,” Thall says. The company is looking at regional sites in Southern Maryland, Chesapeake Va., and Winchester, Va., for additional locations.

One of the restaurant’s distinct features is a wine rack holding used, empty bottles. Customers sign the bottles they order and they are left on display in the restaurant, leaving a “good memento for people who want to come back,” Thall says.

Writer: Julekha Dash; [email protected]
Source: John Thall, Buca di Beppo

Autism Care Provider to Construct New School

Linwood Center Inc., an Ellicott City school and adult services provider for people with autism, will use $500,000 in state bond funding to plan, design and construct a new school building.
The approximately 36,000-square-foot building will have a capacity for 70 students when the building has its scheduled opening the fall of 2013, Linwood Center Executive Director Bill Moss says. The expansion of the student population will likely mean that the school could add as many as 40 new instructional staff by the time the school opens, Moss says.
Funding for the $6.5 million project came from Linwood Center through fundraising, private donors and state and local governments.
The new school will be a "state of the art" learning center for kids with autism, Moss says.
The current school building serves 24 students in a historic mansion that was converted into a school. In recent years the school turned away students because space doesn't exist, Moss says.
The lack of space to accommodate kids with autism comes as the demand for autism care is at an all-time high. Over the past 10 years, the incidence of autism in children has dramatically increased and the demand for services is great, Moss says.
"One in 80 children have autism in the state of Maryland. In Howard County, it’s one in 73 kids," Moss says.
The new school will have a large gym and multipurpose room, a full kitchen, a library and computer lab, rooms for various therapie and a fully functioning teaching apartment to train youth in living skills. The school currently serves youth ages 9 to 21, but the new school will accept younger children.
Construction on the site started in June with the removal of a building on the property. Usable parts of the building were donated to Habitat for Humanity.
Source: Bill Moss, executive director, Linwood Center Inc. 
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Baltimore Burger Bar Relocating to New Spot on Hampden's Avenue

Baltimore Burger Bar, a restaurant specializing in farm-to-table 'foodie' burgers, plans to relocate  from its present location on the Avenue in Hampden to another spot on the same street with a larger kitchen.

Store Owner Anisha Jagtap says she is spending $50,000 on the move and renovation and hopes to open the new location by the end of September.
The new space is currently zoned as retail space and Jagtap will go before the city's zoning board Aug. 21 for approval.
Currently housed in a two-story, 1,400-square-foot space at 830 W. 36th St., Baltimore Burger Bar will relocate to 840 W. 36th St. to a 1,200-square-foot space.

Jagtap also plans to construct a 166-square-foot addition as well as provide outdoor seating, making the overall space larger and more conducive to table service. The additions and renovations are pending approval and are scheduled to happen along with the restaurant opening this fall. 

Jagtap says that in the current spot, table service is difficult because space is limited downstairs and guests have to sit upstairs. The new location will also have an upgraded kitchen. She says the landlord in the new location was more willing to work with her to make changes to the space, where that hopes to remain for the long-term.    
The Burger Bar sources their food locally and offers "not the average burger," Jagtap says. A current menu item includes "The Squash Blossom," which includes grassfed beef, stuffed squash blossom, smoked bacon, chevre, and strawberry basil ketchup.
At the new location, Jagtap plans to take a "classic French approach" to the menu that is still developing, and offer coursed dinners throughout the week. She also plans to add organic, cage-free chicken wings.
Additionally, Jagtap plans to add wait staff to double her staff from three to six.
Source:  Anisha Jagtap, owner and executive chef of Baltimore Burger Bar.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

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