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Broadway Market upgrades move toward construction with new crab house planned in Fells Point

Broadway Market upgrades move toward construction with new crab house planned in Fells Point
A rendering of the proposed renovations to Broadway Market's now vacant north shed, which would include food vendors, a central bar and an outdoor venue with seating. (Rendering by PI.KL, courtesy of Baltimore Public Maarkets Corp.)

The long delayed renovation of Broadway Market in Fells Point is scheduled to begin in July and will include existing vendors, a bar, outdoor space and a new crab house.

The now-vacant north shed would be renovated first and contain at least 10 vendors and a central bar with outdoor seating on the existing parking lot. Existing tenants in the south shed will be offered space there. Later, the south shed will become a fish and crab house, operated by Atlas Restaurant Group, which has signed a lease for the space.

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Construction on the north shed, which runs between Fleet and Aliceanna streets, is expected to begin in July and it is scheduled to open in early 2019.

Baltimore Public Markets Corp., the nonprofit that runs the city-owned markets, planned to show off the plans at 8 p.m. Wednesday at a meeting of the Fells Point Task Force.

"The north shed has sat dormant for so many years; we are thrilled to move forward with this revitalization that will support the community, local businesses and create jobs for city residents," Mayor Catherine Pugh said in a statement. "A renewed Broadway Market will help generate more economic activity in Fells Point and add to the City's offerings of unique destinations to visit."

Baltimore's six public markets have been a traditional source of prepared foods and grocery items for city residents and visitors for decades. But the markets have been in needs of repairs and upgrades.

Originally called the Fells Point Market, Broadway Market opened in 1786 and is the city's oldest. The north shed was damaged in a fire in 1969.

In 2013, WorkShop Development planned to renovate and reopen the north shed as a grocery store but the project faced delays because of the proposed Red Line light rail project.

After the Baltimore Development Corp. sought redevelopment proposals for the market last year, Klein Enterprises, the Dolben Co. and Atlas Restaurant Group submitted the only bid. The group planned to downsize the north shed to about 2,400 square feet of retail space and open an Atlas restaurant in the south shed.

The Baltimore Public Markets board decided against moving forward with that proposal in part because it called for the group to buy the property from the city. In December, it brought in Development Solutions, whose principal was involved in the Mount Vernon Marketplace, and PI.KL, the designer of Remington's R. House, to consult with the community and develop the plan now being implemented.

Atlas Restaurant Group, which owns Azumi, Ouzo Bay, Loch Bar and other Baltimore restaurants, remained involved. Brothers Alex and Eric Smith plan to partner with Billy Tserkis, whose family operates the Captain James Restaurant in Fells Point.

"I used to come visit my grandfather at work for lunch as a kid and he would take me through a bustling Broadway Market," Alex Smith said in a statement. "We look to bring back the hustle and quality of the historic Broadway market and we will make sure to honor its legacy by providing Baltimore with an authentic local fish and crab house."

While the neighborhood is solidly behind renovating and reusing the old building, many are opposed to a new restaurant. The area is filled with restaurants now, and a big new one would just be competition for them without offering much different, said David Martz, president of the Fells Point Residents Association.

"We've had a couple of meetings since they first presented the ideas," Martz said. "The community in general wants a market. We don't see a need for a restaurant."

Martz said many in the community would like to see more vendors selling fresh fruit and vegetables in addition to prepared and packaged foods. That would offer residents a daily opportunity to walk to a market rather than drive to a grocery or wait for a weekly farmers' market.

Many details remain to be worked out, Baltimore Public Markets officials say. The final design for the north shed, for example, will be presented Thursday to the city's planning commission.

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The markets agency is still seeking some funding for the roughly $3 million north shed renovation. About $1 million is budgeted in the city's fiscal 2019 capital improvement program, with approvals expected by this summer.

The funds will pay for design, engineering and tenant improvements. Other money will come from the Baltimore Public Markets' capital funds and officials there are applying for grants for the outdoor space. Shortfalls could be financed.

The Atlas group will invest about $2 million in the south shed.

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