Where does the time go? Today SouthBMore.com celebrates the five-year anniversary of its launch. It’s been an incredible five years covering all the news and events in South Baltimore and meeting so many incredible residents, business owners, and visitors.
From all of us at SouthBMore.com, we appreciate the overwhelming support we have received from this community and thank our many great sponsors for allowing us to keep making SouthBMore.com better. Throughout the years, we’ve also received so much positive feedback – in person, online, and via social media – from our readers. And, for that, we thank you. It inspires us to work even harder to keep South Baltimore more informed.
We look forward to a great sixth year with comprehensive coverage of South Baltimore, the continuation of SouthBMore’s Best and the SouthBMore’s Best Bash, and some exciting upcoming announcements including a real estate-focused event and a t-shirt sale to show off your South Baltimore pride. Stay tuned.
On this milestone day, here’s a look back at some of our biggest story lines since the launch of SouthBMore.com.
Port Covington Goes from Wasteland to Wonderland
Before starting SouthBMore.com, I badly wanted learn more about why Port Covington had been such a failure. After SouthBMore.com launched, it was one of the first stories I covered.
A failed shopping center, a failed waterfront mixed-use development, a failed relocation attempt by Under Armour, and a lot of frustration highlighted the story in 2012. Now in 2017, the groundwork is in place for what has been described as “one of the largest urban renewal projects in America.” The 266-acre, $5.5 billion Master Plan includes a 50-acre campus for Under Armour, and 1,500,000 sq. ft. of destination, attraction, entertainment, and specialty retail; 500,000 sq. ft. of “maker” and industrial/light manufacturing space; 200-plus hotel rooms; 1,500,000 sq. ft. of office space (in addition to the Under Armour Global Headquarters); and civic and cultural uses including 40-plus acres of public parks, a public waterfront, and other public facilities. It also includes more than 7,500 residential units, which could total up to 14,000 units comprised of rental and for-sale properties at various price-points. The plan also includes potential sites for a post office, school, library, fire station, police paddock, and cultural center. Improvements and projects have already begun.
A Real Estate Development Boom
When SouthBMore.com launched, long-awaited and stalled real estate projects in South Baltimore were finally starting to get back on track following the market collapse in the late 2000s. Now it’s less a question of when or if a project might ever get under way, but more about keeping track of everything going on. Large projects are underway at McHenry Row, Stadium Square, and Port Covington, and much smaller projects are on track on every corner of the South Baltimore peninsula, as well as in Pigtown and SoWeBo.
SouthBMore.com has calculated that since 2015, 2,066 housing units have been added or are currently under construction. More than 800 housing units have been proposed, not counting up to 14,000 future units at Port Covington. There is currently 109,300 sq. ft. of retail space and 240,500 sq. ft. of office space under construction, and 344,000 sq. ft. of office space and 28,016 sq. ft. of retail have been added in the past two years. Millions of sq. ft. of office space has been proposed.
Cross Street Market Redevelopment
An ongoing story with a lot of community interest is the redevelopment of Cross Street Market by Caves Valley Partners (CVP), which was selected by the City to lead a $6.5 million renovation. The City’s Request for Proposals was first launched in December 2014; CVP was selected in partnership with War Horse, which later dropped out of the bid, in June 2015; and CVP reached a deal with the City in November 2016.
The market is expected to close in May for 8 to 10 months of renovations. This will include the addition of outdoor seating on Cross St., likely eliminating six parking spaces; more natural light including new windows and the potential addition of glass garage doors facing Cross St.; updated utilities; a common seating area with approximately 100 seats; and facade improvements. CVP is aiming for 25 to 30 tenants within the market with a mix of all the types of vendors that would make up a replacement for a grocery store, plus dine-in and carryout food tenants.
There’s a lot of interest from the community in seeing an improved market, as well as a lot of interest from the community in protecting the interests of the existing tenants. Many community members are vested in both. An ongoing legal matter is taking place between CVP and Nick’s Inner Harbor Seafood, many existing tenants are currently negotiating with CVP’s team, and Pretzel Twist was recently the first tenant to sign an agreement to return to the new market. Many current tenants are also asking the City for financial help and support during a potential relocation or break in business.
South Baltimore Celebrates the Ravens Super Bowl Run
The Ravens journey to a Super Bowl XLVII victory in 2013 was enjoyed by many around the region and South Baltimore was in the middle of the action. Celebrations were held in the streets of Federal Hill following the Ravens final three wins in the playoffs, every bar on every corner was packed for every playoff game, national TV shows brought sets to the Inner Harbor, purple lights and logos were seen throughout the city, and the victory parade ended with an epic celebration at M&T Bank Stadium. There was an unprecedented energy and joy in this area during that run.
Let’s hope there’s a repeat in the near future.
Long-Vacant Retail Spaces Filled
With hundreds of storefronts in South Baltimore, business are always coming and going. However, as investment in the area has grown, there have been many retail spaces filled with businesses that were previously vacant for many years. SoBotanical recently renovated and filled a space on Cross St. that had been vacant for more than 10 years. Others include City Nails opening in a space vacant for more than 12 years, Unleashed by Petco opening in two former retail spaces (one of which was vacant for three years), and The Local Fry opening in a space vacant for almost three years. Blue Moon Café moved into a space that was vacant for almost three years, Himalayan Bistro opened next door in a space that was also vacant almost three years, and Federal Hill Natural Market opened in a space that was vacant for more than seven years.
Construction is additionally underway at Crossbar at the former home of Turner’s and Lanasa Produce, properties that have been vacant for more than five years. It is expected to open in the near future.
Pigtown Main Street is also starting to fill storefronts along Washington Blvd. Many of these spaces were formerly vacant and in disrepair for many years.