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Hunt Valley Consulting Firm Expanding Office, Hiring

Consulting services firm Armada has relocated to a larger headquarters in Hunt Valley is looking to add as much as 10,000 square feet of space to accommodate its growing workforce.

The company, which offers healthcare, employer services and insurance consulting firm, moved last month from Timonium to a 12,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in Hunt Valley from an 8,000-square-foot location in Timonium.

In the past 18 months, the company's staff has increased by 45 percent, and the company plans to hire an additional six to eight employees this year, says Armada Co-founder, Keith Sullivan. It currently employs 48 and will hire a director of communications, an underwriting manager and administration staff. 

Armada also secured options on an additional 8,000 to 10,000 square-foot space adjacent to its new headquarters which could accommodate a doubling of its current workforce of just under 50 employees, Sullivan says. 

Sullivan says his goal is to continue to grow the business steadily and to provide consistent quality to clients. 

"My goal is to develop all of our businesses with the understanding that we'll need to fortify our business with really great people as we do that," Sullivan says. 

The new space consolidates the company to one central area which will help with collaboration across all parts of the company, Sullivan says. At the old spot, the company was spread among different floors. 
The company has two operating divisions. One division provides business consulting and services on topics such as human resources, benefits, and managed payroll for mid-market companies, mostly in the mid-Atlantic. The other division creates and distributes insurance programs nationally.

Additionally, the company expanded and upgraded their technology including a studio to produce in-house training and communication videos for clients. 

The new construction by Merritt Properties at 230 Shilling Circle in Hunt Valley is a certified LEED Platinum building. 
Source: Keith Sullivan, co-founder of Armada.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Fells Point Gets a Corner Grocer

Fresh, local produce is now just steps away for many Fells Point residents.  
Fleet Street Market, the brainchild of lawyer-turned grocer Claudette Torbey, opened this month at 2001 Fleet St. with a mission to provide fresh, local and organic foods for neighborhood residents.
For Torbey, the market is half about food and half about community. She saw the need for a neighborhood grocer and decided to pursue it hoping to improve the community along the way.
"I wanted fresh produce within walking distance. I live five blocks away, and I was frustrated to have to get in the car," Torbey says.

The owner says she is trying to source as many local products as possible in the 1,100-square-foot Fleet Street Market.
The store has everything from produce from Calvert Farms to local artisan producers supplying jams, granola and salsas.
There's all frozen pasta from Little Italy, fresh bread from Hamilton Bakery, milk from Trickling Springs Creamery, in addition to meat, cheese, sushi, cupcakes and other desserts. Torbey plans to make sandwiches on-site as well.
One comment on Yelp, a website that allows users to post reviews of local shops and restaurants, describes it as "Whole Foods meets corner bodega."
Tobey says the reaction from the community so far has been extremely positive.
"The neighborhood has really come out…people are saying hello, kids are here. I hope people enjoy shopping when they are here," she says.
Source: Claudette Torbey, owner of Fleet Street Market
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Belgian Beers and Waffles Coming to Former Chesapeake Space in September

The owner of a Belgian brasserie slated for the Station North Arts and Entertainment District says he is eyeing a September opening for De Kleine Duivel if construction stays on schedule.
The 2,700-square-foot restaurant will serve Belgian beer along with Flemish and French dishes, including a Flemish stew, moules frites and ratatouille, Owner Paul Kopchinski says. Patrons can also order Belgian waffles for dessert and Saturday and Sunday brunch.
Kopchinski says he’s not sure yet how much he will invest in the new restaurant at 1709 N. Charles St., but says he’ll meet the $200,000 threshold needed to get a new liquor license.
Kopchinski says he plans to hire about 20 to staff the restaurant, which will offer outdoor seating.
De Kleine Duivel will join Milk and Honey Market and one other restaurant in the Station North spot that has been vacant for a quarter of a century. Developer Ernst Valery says he expects all of the businesses to open in the fall. The city’s second Milk and Honey will operate as a café rather than a market. Valery says he couldn’t yet share any information on the second full-service restaurant that will open in the fall.
The new businesses will finally bring more activity to a dormant corner of the neighborhood that has been steadily gaining new eateries, art galleries and events, but will lose an anchor tenant in the fall when Everyman Theatre moves to the west side.
Kopchinski had originally eyed Hampden for his beer-themed restaurant before settling on Station North.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Paul Kopchinski, De Kleine Duivel 

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]

Hamilton Hatches Retail Incubator

The Hamilton and Lauraville neighborhoods in Northeast Baltimore is known for its eclectic residents and top-notch restaurants.

But soon, it could be known as a place to shop some community leaders succeed in their vision of turning an old firehouse into a launch-pad for budding store owners. 

Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street purchased the old Hamilton Volunteer Firehouse at 3015 Hamilton Ave. last month for $65,000, says Regina Lansigner, director of Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street.
The organization plans to renovate the 3,250 square-foot building and use the first floor storefront as a business incubator. Business mentoring services will be provided to prospective entrepreneurs, and the main street association will help businesses move into a new storefront location in the community.
The first floor of the building will be used as a retail business incubator and office space will occupy the second floor.
The building was recently hit by a car and suffered some structural damage, and Lansigner says renovations and the budget for the project are on hold until the repair estimates are received. The organization hopes to raise renovation funds through events, donations, and grants. 

"Those who are aware of our plans to incubate business are excited that we might be able to fill some of our small storefronts with the type of retail that will be useful to the residents.  We need clothing, shoes, and housewares," Lansinger says. 
Lansigner says a business incubator concept has been in the works in Hamilton for several years. The neighborhood farmer's market has been used as an incubator in the past.
The incubator should be open by next spring, Lansigner says.
Money to purchase the building was raised through appeals to board members, business owners, and neighbors who loaned money to the organization, Lansigner says.
Baltimore Main Streets are a part of the Baltimore Development Corp. and work to revitalize neighborhoods through promoting small businesses in communities across the city.
Source: Regina Lansigner, director of Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street.
 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]

My Dear Vintage Opens in Hampden

A new boutique at 3610 Falls Road offers women another place to shop for vintage threads in Hampden.
My Dear Vintage opened June 2. Owner Brandi Foster rents the 200-square-foot space from entrepreneur Sue Caldwell above her shop Lovely Yarns.
My Dear Vintage sells fedoras, purses, dresses,  jackets, among other items, ranging from $3 to $65. The selection is a mix of both lesser-known brands and high-fashion designers Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Hermes. Pieces date from the 1950s to the 1980s.
Foster wants to keep My Dear Vintage in Hampden but look for a larger location as the physical store becomes profitable. Within the next few months, Foster plans to add apartment items to her collection. In the next year, she hopes to offer retro clothing for men and kids, which she says she  believes are in high demand but often overlooked by shops.
Foster named the boutique in honor of her grandmother who sparked her passion for vintage clothing and whom she affectionately referred to as “my dear.”
Foster originally established My Dear Vintage as an online store in the summer of 2010. Once she was successful, the former Pikesville native wanted to scout out a physical location for the boutique in Hampden.
“Hampden has really changed. It’s a great place with young hipsters who like to shop,” Foster says.
She now lives 3 blocks away from her shop and enjoys perusing the boutiques of fellow Hampden merchants like Avenue Antiques for household gadgets. She runs the boutique solo. 

Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Brandi Foster 

Entrepreneur Opening New Cuban Restaurant Near Hopkins Hospital

A happy hour mojito will soon only be steps away for workers at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Cuban Revolution Restaurant and Bar will join Teavolve and Milk & Honey Market as the newest restaurant in the John G. Rangos Sr. Building at The Science + Technology Park at Johns Hopkins.
Owner Edward Morabito plans to open the 106-seat restaurant serving Cuban fare Sept. 1. He is investing $938,000 in the new business, according to testimony at the Baltimore City Liquor License Board hearing where the restaurant received conditional approval for its liquor license.
The items on the menu range from tapas to pressed sandwiches and wraps to entrees. Some of the highlights include handmade empanadas, steak chimichurri, garlic shrimp, and seared sea scallops. The restaurant will also offer live jazz music.
A longtime government official turned restaurateur, Morabito owns and operates two additional restaurants in Providence, R.I., and Durham, N.C., with similar concepts and menus. 
More than 30 people will be employed at the location and hiring will include people from the community surrounding the restaurant, Morabito says. The science and technology research park has come under fire for not including enough people in the surrounding community in its development plans. 
Morabito calls Baltimore a 'dynamic city,' and was drawn to the collaborative aspect of the redevelopment of the area around the Johns Hopkins medical campus.
Just north of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Rangos Building is part of a more than 80-acre urban redevelopment project under the direction of the East Baltimore Development Inc. which will include housing, retail and office space, research labs, and more.
Source: Edward Morabito, owner and CEO of Cuban Revolution Restaurant and Bar
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Maryland VA Hospitals Plan Major Expansion

Seeking to address an increased demand for health care services, the Veterans Affairs (VA) Maryland Health Care System plans to spend $41 million on construction and renovation projects at several facilities in the Baltimore area this summer.
The project includes a renovation to the atrium of the system’s downtown location and construction of a linear accelerator for cancer treatment. Linear accelerators generate high-energy electrons and X-rays. A new rehabilitation and robotics center and an extensive addition to an existing building are planned at the system’s location off Loch Raven Road in Baltimore. 
The upgrades are part of a statewide renovation project for the health care system that includes three inpatient facilities and six outpatient clinics throughout the state.
The system offers medical, surgical, rehabilitative, mental health, and outpatient care to more than 52,000 veterans annually in Maryland.
The construction projects will also add new clinical programs to benefit Veteran patients and increase clinical and administrative space, says chief of public and community relations at the VA Maryland Healthcare System, R. David Edwards. 
At the Baltimore VA Medical Center at 10 N. Greene St., construction and renovations are planned to improve patient access and expand clinical programs. The new space will be used by 400 patients each week, officials say. 

 Construction is ongoing on the linear accelerator suite that will be central to the center's new radiation oncology program. Officials expect construction to be completed by next summer.
Additional administrative and clinical space at the center will be created through a 20,000 square-foot addition to the center's front atrium and a 20,000 square-foot renovation to existing space. A robotics space and a modern media center will be added and is projected to be completed by early fall.
Construction is underway at the Loch Raven VA Outpatient Clinic in north Baltimore which is the site for a new,15,000-square-foot rehabilitation research center. Designed to better serve Maryland veterans who are stroke survivors or in need of physical rehabilitation, the $8.1 million center will include specialized equipment and gym spaces.
At the Loch Raven VA Community Living and Rehabilitation Center, a 23,000 square-foot addition to the facility currently underway will add multi-purpose rooms and expand hospice and therapy areas.
A rise in military enrollments following the 9/11 attacks and conflicts in the Middle East has precipitated a rise in demand for post-service health care services. The VA is also responding to the increasing numbers of women veterans now coming into the system, officials say. 
A recent report from the Associated Press says 45 percent of American's newest veterans, those from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, file for disability benefits for injuries they say are service-related.
Source: R. David Edwards, chief of Public and Community Relations at the VA Maryland Health Care System, Veterans Affairs Maryland Health Care System. 

Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Dance Studio Opens in Catonsville

 The Baltimore Salsa Dance Co. has some new moves to show off in Baltimore County.
Dance and Artistic Expressions Studio opened in Catonsville June 2. Seven instructors will offer classes ranging from salsa, hip hop, zumba, rumba, and ballet for ages 3 to adult at all skill levels. Specials include six-week lessons for $75, drop-ins for $15, and free 15-minute demos from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Studio members plan to promote creative exercise that extends to the mind, body, and soul with alternative classes in activities like yoga and sewing.
Owner/instructor Tabitha Hitchye-Holliday says she had been searching for a Catonsville location closer to where she lives. The company closed its first Light Street location in August and signed the lease for its current 1,000-square-foot studio in April.
Its only studio is located in the county, Baltimore Salsa Dance Co. still has a presence in the city, offering dance classes at venues like Mobtown Ballroom and the Havana Club.
Hitchye-Holliday says the studio was made possible through private funding. The organization is currently searching for grant opportunities.
Source: Tabitha Hitchye-Holliday
Writer: Jolene Carr

Liberty Road Corridor Gets A Business Boost

The spotlight is on business along the Liberty Road corridor, thanks to the revitalized Liberty Road Business Association

New Executive Director Harold Reid says he is undertaking several new programs and initiatives for the 110-member group and for Liberty Road/Randallstown that will hopefully boost businesses.

The Liberty Road Business Association is working with the Liberty Road Community Council to implement an initiative by Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz  to enforce signage and building code regulations for businesses along Liberty Road. The association and the council are also partnering to relocate the long-time farmer's market to a more visible site in front of the Randallstown branch of the county library.

"It has had various degrees of highs and lows in terms of management," says Reid of his association. "I'm trying to get it moving in a more business-friendly direction."

The association covers an almost nine mile-long stretch along Liberty Road from the City/County line at Northern Parkway to Deer Park Road in Randallstown. It is part of Baltimore County's community revitalization efforts, and Reid attends the county's monthly meetings for communities that fall under that designation.

"The association needed revitalization. It was dormant before Reid. He's brought a new vitality, a spark for businesses to work together," says Shirley Supik, executive director of the Liberty Road Community Council, an umbrella organization of businesses and 15 community groups in the area.

For its members, the association is hosting its first-ever job fair, called Employment Meet, on Thursday, June 14, to be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Community College of Baltimore County- Liberty Center in  Randallstown. (Registration required by June 7.) Participants will have the opportunity to meet with and discuss job openings at several local companies in a variety of fields, including banking, health care, food service and IT.
Source: Harold Reid, Liberty Road Business Association; Shirley Supik, Liberty Road Community Council
Writer: Barbara Pash

Downtown Sandwich Shop Expanding to Hunt Valley

Workers in Hunt Valley will soon have another place to grab some grub.
Nalley Fresh, a fast-casual restaurant that serves salads, wraps, rice bowls, and burritos at its downtown location, plans to expand to Hunt Valley and additional locations in the area, says owner Greg Nalley.
The 3,000-sqaure-foot, 60-seat restaurant will open Sept. 1 in the Schilling Green II complex currently under construction at 225 Schilling Circle near the Hunt Valley Towne Centre. Nalley will employ at least nine employees at the new location.
Nalley says he believes that Hunt Valley is becoming a hot commodity for businesses planning to open and relocate and he hopes to serve the growing community of workers in the area.
The restaurant's first location on the ground floor of the Sun Trust building on East Baltimore Street downtown opened last March. The response to the location has been overwhelming, Nalley says.
In addition to the Hunt Valley expansion, Nalley says there is room to expand his business and he is currently considering several sites for additional locations.
Prior to starting Nalley Fresh, Nalley worked as the Executive Chef for the Maryland Jockey Club for close to 10 years. In 2002, he opened Harvest Table in Locust Point. He sold the business and later opened Nalley Fresh.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]
Source: Greg Nalley, owner of Nalley Fresh

Chef Turning Hampden Grocery Store Into Restaurant

Once a grocery store, The Food Market's rebirth as a restaurant will happen just after Memorial Day.
After months of construction and a complete gutting and renovation, The Food Market plans to debut chef Chad Gauss' concept of chef-inspired comfort food in approximately two weeks in its new industrial-modern space, says General Manager and Co-owner, Elan Kotz.
Kotz describes the menu as known and approachable food, but executed from a chef's perspective. Dishes that Gauss prepared at other locations include Kobe beef meatloaf, linguine with crab meatballs, duck-fat fried cashews with fried catfish served on micro greens, and Heath bar crunch bread pudding. 
The 3,000-square-foot restaurant on the Avenue will seat 90 people, and will include a 14-seat bar. The restaurant plans to offer free valet parking and a dinner menu available until 1:00 a.m. The restaurant will employ approximately 45.
Prior to being a restaurant, The Hampden Food Market was a grocery store that also sold beer and lottery tickets.
Kotz and Gauss signed a lease to take over the space in June.
Kotz and co-owner Gauss were drawn to Hampden's originality and personality in a place that Kotz says is as much of a neighborhood as it is a destination for visitors. The boutiques, restaurants, and lack of big-box retailers gives Hampden a down-home feel, Kotz says.
Baltimore Magazine recognized Gauss, formerly executive chef at City Cafe, as the Best New Chef of 2010.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]
Source: Elan Kotz, general manager and co-owner

$15 Million Apartment Complex Planned for Canton

A local development company plans to demolish existing warehouse space and build a new approximately $15 million, 57-unit apartment complex in Canton.
Plans for the four-story apartment with a sub-level parking garage at 1202 and 1220 S. East Ave. will go before the city's zoning appeals board June 26 for approval.
Ellicott City's Canton East LLC, based anticipates the start of demolition of the existing vacant buildings before the end of June and for construction to begin before the end of September. The apartment complex would then open March 2014, says manager of Canton East LLC, Ross Taylor.
The 56,000-square-foot building would include studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments for rent. Square-footage on each apartment runs from 600 square-feet to 1,200 square-feet. Taylor says apartment prices have  yet to be determined, but the rents will be competitively priced with other rental buildings in the area.

Taylor says that rents for the apartments will be comparable to complexes like The Eden and Spinnaker Bay Apartments. The average price for a studio at these locations is $1,730 per month, the average price for a one-bedroom is $2,100 per month, and two-bedroom apartments average $2,800 per month. 

Taylor grew up in Baltimore and has lived in the Canton area for the past five years.  While on walks with his dog, he kept seeing the industrial buildings in the heart of a residential community and decided they were out of place and that he would redevelop the location. 
The units will wrap around a central courtyard that will include patio space with a grill, outdoor seating, and a dog run. Other amenities include a fitness and business center that will have a conference room, computer kiosk, coffee bar and kitchenette.
Taylor hopes to take advantage of the continued development in Canton including the upcoming Canton Crossing and the already popular Canton Square. He hopes to attract people who want to live in the area including employees at Johns Hopkins and those who work downtown.
This project will be Canton East LLC's first large project in Baltimore as the company works primarily out of Howard County. Taylor describes Canton East LLC as a family real estate company that develops commercial and residential properties.
Source: Ross Taylor, manager, Canton East LLC
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Royal Sonesta Replacing Downtown Baltimore's Intercontinental

Baltimore’s Intercontinental Harbor Court Hotel will be changing flags to Royal Sonesta later this month.
Starting May 31, the hotel at 550 Light St. will be known as the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore, according to hotel owner Hospitality Properties Trust.
The Newton, Mass., real estate investment trust has identified 40 hotels in its portfolio that it wants to either sell or rebrand under the Royal Sonesta flag, says Ken Bonang, the company’s vice president of investor relations. He couldn’t say whether some of those hotels will include other properties in Maryland.

Boston's Sonesta International Hotels Corp. is taking over management of the downtown Baltimore property. Hospitality Properties Trust has no plans to sell the 196-room hotel, which Bonang says will remain an upscale property. 
Hospitality Properties Trust bought the Harbor Court Hotel in 2006 for $78 million and gave it a $4 million facelift. It was Baltimore’s only five-star property until the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore opened last year. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Ken Bonang, Hospitality Properties Trust 
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