Streets Market & Café plans to open on Charles Street in September, adding a grocery store to a downtown corridor where developers have been converting former offices into hundreds of apartments.
The Washington-based specialty grocer has leased the former Fresh & Greens store at the corner of Saratoga and Charles streets. It will be Streets Market's third location — and first in Baltimore. It opened its first location in Washington just over a year ago and also has a store in Arlington, Virginia.
"This is going to be a beachhead for us in Baltimore," said Campbell Burns, vice president of business development.
Burns said the company hopes to open two to three stores a year, focused on urban locations, including Baltimore. It bills itself as a place to buy everything from toilet paper and cereal to fresh produce, organic cookies and prepared food.
"What we are really is just an urban-oriented grocery store that carried a wide selection of your organic, natural and everyday goods under one roof," Burns said.
Officials have said securing a grocery store in downtown is critical to making the many residential conversions underway there a success.
Super Fresh first opened in Charles Street location in 2007. The store was later operated as a Fresh & Greens, which closed at the end of 2013.
Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, said those closings were driven by to broader considerations of national owners. Super Fresh, for instance, shut its store amid a bankruptcy declaration by its parent company.
"This site has always been successful but has fallen prey to national problems of national supermarkets, so I think it bodes well for the future of the site that it's going to have regional operation and control," Fowler said.
Streets Market is funded by a private entrepreneur, said Burns, who declined to name the founder. Washington business records identify Shin Myong Na of Burke, Virginia, as the CEO of S & H Inc., which does business as Streets Market & Café.
Burns said the company was drawn to the location about a year ago by the possibility of strong daytime traffic from office users, as well as residents living in nearby apartments. It took time because the firm had been negotiating with Fresh & Greens to take over the lease, a deal that eventually fell through.
Southern Management Corp., the property owner, got control of the property in May, CEO David Hillman told the Sun that month. Streets Market & Café is being helped by a $100,000 grant over two years from the Downtown Partnership, as well as a $250,000 loan from the Baltimore Development Corp. for furniture, fixtures and other equipment.
Burns said the store expects to hire 35 to 50 people for a mix of part-time and full-time positions. The store has not finalized hours, but is considering 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Burns said.