New Cross Street Market design goes retro

The latest design for Cross Street Market’s renovation hearkens back to its rebuild in the 1950s.

Caves Valley Partners on Tuesday released the latest renderings of the Federal Hill market, diverting from previous designs that included dark gray walls and roll-up garage doors to a look inspired by the market’s reconstruction in 1952 following a fire that tore through the building.

“The entire redesign is really based on feedback we got from both merchants in the market and the public,” said Arsh Mirmiran, a partner in Caves Valley Partners, the Towson firm leading the redesign. “People in a lot of ways … they love the vibe of the market the way it was in sort of the good old days.”

Mirmiran said earlier renderings for the redesign were driven by War Horse Cities founder Scott Plank, who is no longer involved in the project. The development team decided earlier this year to keep the market open during construction, and they met several months ago to discuss a new design for the building.

At that point, Mirmiran suggested starting from scratch. “I said, rather than trying to do all this cute stuff, why don’t we take it back to something along the lines of the original look?”

Like the market’s reinvention in the 1950s, the new design includes brick facades on either end at Charles and Light streets, with metal cantilever signs that bisect a larger Cross Street Market sign. Each end includes wooden doors and large windows. The new design will reopen original windows that were part of the 1952 rebuild, but it scraps rolling garage doors proposed for the building.

“It’s very much the old-school look of the market,” Mirmiran said. “It freshens it up just a little bit to make it look like it’s a 2017 look.”

The north and south sides of the market will each have five entrances. Three primary entrances will be painted with red, orange and yellow stripes directing guests to the doorways, and construction crews will remove paint on the sides of the building to expose the cinder blocks.

“We’re going to add some polish to it,” Mirmiran said.

The south side of the market will include new sidewalks with outdoor seating.

The revised project is expected to cost $7.3 million. Construction is set to begin in late January and last about 15 months. Crews will first renovate the middle of the market, with the east and west ends remaining open. After the middle is updated, tenants (except for Nick’s Inner Harbor Seafood) will move into that area, and both ends of the market will be renovated. New renderings of the market’s interior are in the works and will be released in the coming months.

Cross Street Market is currently about 30 percent occupied, Mirmiran said, adding he intends to have the space at 95 percent to full occupancy when it opens. The new market will house about 32 stalls.

The market recently added several pop-up vendors — including stalls for doughnuts, cookie dough, barbecue and soup — that will have the option to become permanent tenants following construction.

All of the tenants remaining in the market received offers to open in the newly renovated space. Mirmiran said five have accepted the offers. Big Jim’s Deli recently closed after 38 years. Other merchants, some of whom were asked to modify their concepts, have not confirmed whether they are staying.

“There’s some discussion back and forth with a few of the merchants where we’re asking them to modify their concepts to fit within the redone markets, and I think some of them are still having a bit of a hard time,” Mirmiran said.

For example, Mirmiran’s team asked Cheese Galore & More to focus on selling cheese, dairy products and cheese-related accessories such as crackers, cheese boards and knives — and stop selling coffee. Sharon Johnson, the owner of Cheese Galore & More, said she sells a lot of coffee and expects cutting it out of her offerings would hurt her sales. She has not yet completed her lease.

“I’m excited about the new market, but I have a lot of apprehension,” she said.

Mirmiran expects that increased foot traffic at the market following construction would boost business at the stalls despite narrowing their offerings, he said.

Another vendor, Nunnally Brothers Choice Meats, is being asked to scale back its size and decrease the amount of storage space it uses. And Baltimore’s Best Bar-B-Que, a Chinese stall, was asked to offer authentic Chinese dishes made-to-order instead of preparing food in the morning and heating it in trays throughout the day.

“The finishing touches on the food should be done fresh rather than the food sitting around on a steam table all day,” Mirmiran said.

Nunnally Brothers and Baltimore’s Best Bar-B-Que are still in negotiations with Caves Valley.

The development team will hold a meeting with local neighborhood groups when interior renderings are available to update nearby residents on the new look, Mirmiran said.

smeehan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sarahvmeehan

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