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Hammerjacks may get third life near M&T stadium

Laws and LegislationMaryland Stadium Authority

Developers want to bring back Hammerjacks in a new concert and club venue near M&T Bank Stadium and the new Horseshoe casino.

They have proposed locating the new Hammerjacks in the 600 block of W. West St. in what is now parking lot "N" for Ravens games.

The plans, presented to Pigtown residents at a community meeting Tuesday night, call for a 50,000-square-foot, two-story building with a club and 2,500-person concert space. They also include a parking garage with about 400 spaces, which would be developed by the current owner of the property.

The developers said they see it as an extension of a budding entertainment zone with the coming completion of the Horseshoe casino south of the stadium.

"There's going to be real attention to detail to create a state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line venue for hopefully some of the best performers," said developer Mark Renbaum, a principal at MLR Partners, who is working on the Hammerjacks building and would be a partner in the club once it opened.

The project also involves Kevin Butler, who purchased the Hammerjacks name and trademark in 2009 to revive its glory days in the 1980s as a hair-band mecca. The Anne Arundel County businessman could not be reached for comment.

Renbaum said Wednesday that the project, technically located in the Carroll-Camden Industrial Area, is still in the early stages, pending negotiations with the Ravens and approvals from the city. But he said he hopes to open the club next year.

"We're processing our plans, and we have a fully committed team to execute this," he said.

The property owner, controlled by developer Mark Sapperstein, now leases the roughly 350-space lot to the Maryland Stadium Authority, sharing parking revenue with the Ravens and the stadium authority, according to Kevin Byrne, a Ravens senior vice president.

Sapperstein, who did not attend Tuesday's meeting, said he is looking to build a 450-space garage.

"We're just in discussions, which is why these things are ahead of themselves," he said.

Byrne said the Ravens want at least the same number of spots in order to back the project.

"We have had early discussions with the owner," he said. "We haven't blessed anything."

For the plan to move forward, the City Council must also approve a change to the area's urban renewal plan to allow for entertainment use. The amendment goes before the Planning Commission Nov. 21. If approved, it would proceed to the City Council.

Councilman Edward L. Reisinger, who put the change on the agenda, said he supports the idea of the club, but final support will depend on the reception from residents and area business owners.

"Conceptually I like it, but it's got to go through the process, through the business park and the community association," he said.

At Tuesday's meeting, Pigtown residents said they were worried about parking and noise. The developers said they want to include a Pigtown resident in their planning deliberations and that the venue is not large enough to cause the kinds of problems the neighborhood experiences on game days.

"They went through considerable effort to make sure that we were on board and taken into consideration," said Richard Parker, president of the Citizens of Pigtown community association. "There were a lot of questions ... but it wasn't at all as heated or contentious as we thought it would be."

The original Hammerjacks opened in 1977 on South Charles Street, but built its reputation as a must-see venue after it moved to Howard Street. That Hammerjacks closed in 1997 and was razed to make way for parking near the stadiums, and an attempt to revive the club took place from 2000 to 2006 on Guilford Avenue.

On Tuesday, when Renbaum asked residents if they remembered the old club, they responded with groans, and he quickly said the new club would have little in common with its predecessor besides its name.

"That was 20 years ago," Renbaum said. "This concert venue is conceived of as a world-class venue that will attract acts across genres."

jfenton@baltsun.com

nsherman@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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