"The market is doing very well," he said. "Sales are strong. I think Crush's problems were Crush's problems, not Belvedere Square's."

In the past year, a Sprint phone store and Sophie's Crepes have opened in part of the former Daedalus space, and Loyola University Maryland has expanded its Loyola Clinical Centers headquarters, signing a 10-year lease and adding nearly 5,000 square feet of space, improving its footprint in Belvedere Square by 50 percent, according to a press release in April.

Longtime merchants seem perfectly happy.

"I love Belvedere Square," said Paula Dobbe-Maher, who has run Dutch Flora Garden store for about seven years and who ran a stand in the market before that.

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All eyes on Senator Theatre

Merchants are also optimistic that the center will have even more foot traffic once Senator Theatre owners James "Buzz" Cusack and his daughter, Kathleen, complete planned renovation and expansion of the nearby historic theater as a multiplex.

Said Grand Cru's Carey, "I think it's going to be a big lift" for merchants.

The reopening of the Senator is still planned for spring, Buzz Cusack said, showing the Baltimore Messenger a largely stripped auditorium where the single-screen theater used to be.

Dobbe-Maher, whose own flower business began on Canterbury Road in 1999, is unconcerned with the shifting nature of Belvedere Square, which was moribund for many years before it underwent in 2002 a $21 million redevelopment by Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse and several partners with city support.

"These things evolve all the time," Dobbe-Maher said.

Belvedere Square's free holiday open house on Dec. 15, called Holiday at the Square, will feature free cooking and floral decorating demonstrations, wine pairings, holiday story readings, visits and free photos with Santa Claus, cookie decorating and live music. For more information, go to http://www.belvederesquare.com.