Last week Hammerjacks Entertainment Group (HEG) presented plans for the new Hammerjacks at 1300 Russell St. in Stadium Area and Carroll-Camden Industrial Area in South Baltimore to Baltimore City Planning Department’s Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel (UDARP). The 48,000 sq. ft. venue will take the place of Paradox; a currently-vacant warehouse facing Ostend St., which was most recently the home to a ceramic tile company; and a smaller building connecting Paradox to the warehouse.
HEG is led by Kevin Butler and Andy Hotchkiss, and the design plans were presented by Matt Herbert of Design Collective. Morgan-Keller will lead construction for the project that was first announced last fall. Pre-construction work has been underway at the site and Butler told SouthBMore.com that they will receive a demolition permit in the next few weeks with continuous construction to take place after. HEG expects to open the new venue in the fourth quarter of next year. Though HEG has experienced delays, including waiting for the completion of a recent overhaul of the city’s zoning code, Butler noted they have used to extra time to continue to make the project “better than ever.”
Hammerjacks originally announced a $20 million new-construction plan for the club at Lot N by M&T Bank Stadium in 2013. However, as the city was studying the impacts to the adjacent Carroll-Camden Industrial Area to change the zoning at the property, a better opportunity across the street at 1300 Russell St. came about. The site already had the zoning needed for a liquor license and live entertainment. HEG’s application for an “arena” liquor license will go before the Baltimore City Liquor Board in early 2017.
The new Hammerjacks will feature a 2,500-person concert venue in a new building that will replace Paradox. The space can be modified down for smaller shows. The existing building facing Ostend St. will be renovated into a club/sports bar area that will feature smaller 300-person live music shows. An outdoor beer garden area will be constructed where the current connector building sits. The beer garden will have a pea gravel surface and string lighting. The second story will features an additional club area, offices, and a private events space that leads to a rooftop deck. All of the sections of Hammerjacks will be connected.
Butler told SouthBMore.com he has been contacted by several national entertainment companies interested in booking shows at Hammerjacks and they have reached a deal with a company to handle ticket sales.
Hammerjacks can be modified to various sizes for corporate events, business meetings, high school reunions, weddings, and private events. HEG will also be leasing 2,500 sq. ft. of retail space on the property that will face Ostend St. Butler told SouthBMore.com they have been contacted by companies looking to open restaurants, microbreweries, and sports apparel shops.
The exterior design is highlighted by brick, black steel, and the reopening and enlarging of windows on the club portion of Hammerjacks facing Ostend St. Herbert said they are looking to honor the gritty and industrial past of Camden-Carroll and Hammerjacks in the design. The buildings will also feature large Hammerjacks signs with its signature lightning bolt, as well color-changing LED lighting throughout the exterior. Entrances will be placed at the corner of Ostend and Russell, as well as a concert venue entrance and beer garden entrance on Russell.
Along Ostend St., Hammerjacks will have trees, planters, and bollards to provide aesthetic improvements, as well as safety precautions for pedestrians.
HEG has reached a deal to provide parking at nearby parking lots Lot N and Lot NN, as well as at a lot it purchased on Ridgely St.
HEG is also hoping to activate the 1300 block of Russell St., which dead ends at the train tracks south of Hammerjacks and is underneath the Russell St. overpass, into an urban plaza. HEG plans to paint and light the overpass and improve the block so it can host tailgates and events. Butler told SouthBMore.com those discussions are underway with city officials and the Maryland State Highway Administration.
The UDARP panel offered some criticism and advice for the project but several members called the project “incredible.” It was approved with comments.
Lots H and J at M&T Bank Stadium are a tribute to the former Hammerjacks music venue that once stood at its second and most popular location at 1101 S. Howard St. Hammerjacks’ original location was at 1024 S. Charles St. in Federal Hill, the current home of Nobles Bar and Grill, and a later version opened at 316 Guilford Ave. in Downtown. Butler was unaffiliated with any of the previous three locations, but obtained the rights to the Hammerjacks trademark in 2009 for $1,000.
Hammerjacks’ heyday was from 1987 to 1990 according to Butler when it garnered the title of one of VH1’s Top 5 rock venues. Butler was there for many shows in that era, seeing Guns N’ Roses, The Ramones, L.A. Guns, Warrant, Joan Jett, KIX, and more. “Hammerjacks was so popular that bands like Journey and Def Leppard would hang out there when they were in town for bigger shows,” said Butler. Iron Maiden even had a picture of Hammerjacks in their record sleeve at one point, Butler noted.
To honor Hammerjacks’ former glory, Butler told SouthBMore.com that a large dedication piece with pictures and items from the old venue will be well represented and that they are definitely planning some 1980s events. While honoring its roots, the new Hammerjacks will be a venue for all genres of music.
Butler is excited about the future of the area. “In one area you are going to have a world-class baseball stadium, a world-class football stadium, a world-class casino and, now, a world-class concert venue,” he said.
Renderings Courtesy of Design Collective