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Developers propose family-oriented Cross Street Market

Take a look at the $8.5 million proposal to redo Cross Street Market:

The board of Baltimore Public Markets Corp. is expected to vote soon on a management recommendation to begin negotiations with a development group that wants to lease and overhaul Cross Street Market.

The board will vote formally on the recommendation in the next 10 days, said Robert Thomas, executive director of the public markets group, which oversees the city's six public markets.

The $8.5 million renovation plan for the market building in Federal Hill was developed by Caves Valley Partners and and War Horse LLC. Towson-based Caves Valley is working on a $250 million mixed-use development in nearby Sharp Leadenhall known as Stadium Square, and War Horse is the real estate firm founded by Scott Plank after he left his brother's Under Armour in 2012.

Cross Street Partners, launched by Baltimore developer William Struever, would lead day-to-day management once it opened.

The proposed renovation, designed by BCT Architects, would slice the market into three sections, with new pedestrian streets, additional windows, and a working greenhouse and crab deck on top, according to plans submitted to Baltimore Public Markets in early March. The building currently runs the length of Cross Street between Light and Charles streets.

About 23 merchants lease space in the building, which dates to the 1950s and could accommodate more than 30 vendors, according to Baltimore Public Markets. Federal Hill has been home to a public market since 1846.

Arsh Mirmiran of Caves Valley Partners declined to comment, saying he did not want to jeopardize the review process. In their submission to the city, the developers said they want to create a "family-oriented gathering space" with afternoon concerts on summer Saturdays.

The companies approached the city last year about taking over the market, which neighbors also say they want to see improved. The city formally sought bids in January, receiving only one full proposal.

The Caves Valley Partners-War Horse team, which would finance the project without debt, is seeking a 30-year lease with annual $275,000 payments. A profit-sharing agreement "can be negotiated," according to the plan.

Redone and fully leased, the market could generate $10.9 million in annual sales and about 39 full-time jobs, according to an analysis comissioned by the developers. The development team projects rental revenues that near $1 million after 10 years.

The proposal estimates completion in 2017, but the project is already several months behind the schedule outlined in the plan, which anticipated securing a lease by June 1.

Thomas said his organization wanted to complete its due diligence on the plan before making a recommendation to the board. This month's vote would kick off exclusive negotiating privileges.

Henry Reisinger, the owner of Fenwick Meats in the market, said vendors have met and are in agreement that they want to stay if a new entity takes over. They have not been briefed on the plans, he added.

"We're just waiting in the wings to hopefully be part of it," he said. "We're in limbo, I guess … but we're trying to be positive and cautiously optimistic."

nsherman@baltsun.com

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