Construction on Union Collective — the complex that will soon be home to popular Baltimore companies like Union Craft Brewing and the Charmery — continues to make progress, with the first tenant scheduled to open as early as next month.
The $14 million manufacturing and retail project, led by Union Craft and and its partner Seawall Development, opened its doors at 1700 W. 41st St. on Tuesday for a preview of the space. As construction crews worked around them, business owners explained their visions for their spaces inside the 10½-acre property near Hampden.
The goal, they said, is to create a sprawling project designed to be a one-stop shop for locally made goods and fun. Visitors will be able to buy beer, whiskey, pizza, coffee, hot sauce and other products in a space also conducive to mingling, conversation and live music.
On Tuesday, the 138,000-square-foot building was still very much a work in progress, with rooms looking more like undecorated shells than soon-to-open retail and production spaces. The walk-through — which began in Union’s future taproom and snaked through the building — required participants to largely use their imaginations, as business owners pointed to artist renderings and empty areas, indicating where equipment, bathrooms and the like would be located.
The converted former Sears warehouse space featured foyers, doors and walls in place as clear parameters between the businesses.
Adam Benesch of Union Craft Brewing and Union Collective said the indoor rock-climbing facility Earth Treks is on track to open first, sometime in April. The rest of the tenants plan to open in May or June, he said. Known for their outdoor events, Union already is planning a grand opening party to take place in July, he said.
“This is our dream come true here,” said the Charmery’s David Alima, standing next to his business partner and wife, Laura Alima. “We’ve had these amazing ideas together, and we can’t really do anything because we don’t have space. ... Now we’re going to finally have the space.”
Alima’s sentiment was a common theme among the tenants: They’re all excited by the possibilities this huge complex will afford them, including the ability to collaborate with one another.
Here’s a roundup of updates from various tenants involved in the project:
Union Craft Brewing: Three times larger than Union’s current facility nearby, the brewery will feature a taproom with a 40-seat bar (with 18 taps of Union beer), an outdoor beer garden that will host live music and a view of the brewhouse. The taproom has skylights, so it feels “indoor/outdoor,” said Union partner Jon Zerivitz. They hope to begin brewing on-site in May.
Well Crafted Kitchen: Previously a mobile business operating out of a 1949 Dodge truck, Well Craft Kitchen will offer wood-fired pizzas, kabobs and bar snacks through a walk-up window next to Union Craft Brewing, according to co-owners Laura and Tom Wagner.
Huckle’s: Kedrick Smith, founder of the local hot sauce brand, said it will be a relief to move from the modest kitchen of Maggie’s Farm, where they’ ve been brewing and bottling, to its 5,800-square-foot space inside Union Collective. The larger production and storage capabilities will greatly increase the Huckle’s footprint in the region, he said. The company also is installing a retail space and a test kitchen that other aspiring businesses can rent to help get off the ground.
The Baltimore Whiskey Company: Max Lents of the Baltimore Whiskey Company said the company’s new home is four times the size of its current facility in Remington. The company — whose first whiskey is launching on Saturday — is installing a $100,000 geothermal system at Union Collective that will use cold groundwater for the cooling needed to make their spirits. (Read more about it here.) The space will include a tasting room, and original artwork from local artists.
Earth Treks: The indoor climbing gym showed the most progress of all the tenants, with colorful, angular climbing walls — which will stand as tall as 15 feet — already in place. “Late spring is still the hope” for opening, said Earth Treks operator Dan Francis. The space will feature a fitness section for cardio machines, a yoga room and free weights. Membership will cost $79 per month, Francis said.
The Charmery: The Charmery is moving all of its production to Union Collective, but will keep its Hampden location open . (There’s also a Towson shop in the works.) The new space will have more seating than the Hampden store, Laura Alima said, and feature an oven and larger cooking area that will expand the Charmery’s offerings (ice cream sandwiches, anyone?). The owners said they’re planning ice cream collaborations with other Collective tenants.
Vent Coffee Roasters: Sarah Walker, the woman behind Vent Coffee Roasters, plans to have an intimate coffeshop, with a long L-shaped bar, where patrons can get to know the barista. She hopes to sell homemade pastries and bread, along with coffee mocktails. Her operating hours are to be determined, but she hopes to be open early each morning to catch the Earth Treks crowd, Walker said.
TBD: There are two other units that do not yet have tenants. Benesch said he’s been in talks with local furniture makers and woodworkers, but no decision is imminent. They could still be vacant by the time the collective opens to the public, he said.