The Ivy Bookshop is sending out new shoots.
The independent Baltimore bookstore, which has been a haven for serious readers since 2001, will leave its Baltimore County location at 6080 Falls Road next spring and move two blocks south over the city line to the site of the former Divine Life Church.
The 2,704-square-foot property at 5928 Falls Road is more than three times the size of the Ivy’s existing space and is located on 2.5 acres with a meditation pathway and landscaped garden that the store has promised to maintain as a public green space.
Emma Snyder, who became the bookstore’s sole owner earlier this year, said this will be the first time the Ivy has owned its own home — a development she said will put the much-loved arts institution on more secure financial footing as well as providing opportunities for expanded programming.
“We have loved living in Lake Falls Village for the past 18 years,” Snyder said. "We would have stayed if we didn’t have the opportunity to own our own building.
"Sometimes successful bookstores end up closing down because of the vagaries of the commercial real estate market. When a bookstore owns its own home, it means it’s safe for the long run."
Snyder said the larger facility will allow the Ivy to function “as a cultural center that’s anchored by a vibrant bookstore.”
The new Ivy is getting its first coffee bar. In addition, there will be a second-floor “event space” that could be used for such activities as writing workshops or perhaps, a performance by a local singer-songwriter.
Snyder’s long-term plans include establishing a writing residency at the Ivy in which an emerging novelist or poet could live rent-free for a designated period while working on a manuscript. (Think of a smaller version of Highlandtown’s Creative Alliance.) That could be accomplished, Snyder said, by converting part of the church’s second floor into a studio apartment.
“We are well situated to serve as a community hub,” Snyder said,” and to celebrate the great repository of human thought and reflection.
”In a really transformative way, this is the healthiest thing the Ivy can be doing right now.”