THREE YEARS after the legendary Hammerjacks was reduced to rubble, owner Louis J. Principio has found a spot in downtown Baltimore to open another nightclub.
Principio heads a group that is constructing a nightclub with a concert hall, just north of Baltimore's central business district, at 316 to 318 Guilford Ave.
The group is building a two-story addition to a garage that occupies the site, and the combined structure will house the new operation.
The state Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City has approved a request from Principio to transfer the liquor license from the former Hammerjacks property, at 1101 S. Howard St., to the Guilford Avenue address once construction ends.
Principio, who ran Hammerjacks from 1977 to 1997, could not be reached. But according to plans on file with the liquor board, the building on Guilford Avenue will contain a "caf/grille" open during the day and will have live entertainment and evening dancing.
The concert hall is being constructed as part of the brick-clad addition, which runs the length of the block from Guilford Avenue to Davis Street. According to Principio's application, the property is owned by Market Tavern Inc., and the operation most likely will be known as Louie-Louie's Inc. or Louie-Louie's Grille.
Hammerjacks opened as a disco and adapted over the years to changing musical tastes, eventually becoming one of the East Coast's largest nightclubs. Performers who appeared there included Guns N' Roses, Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss and the Pretenders.
The Maryland Stadium Authority acquired the Howard Street complex for $3.1 million to expand parking at Camden Yards before PSINet Stadium opened as the home of the Baltimore Ravens. The Howard Street building was demolished May 12, 1997.
According to Principio's liquor license application, the Guilford Avenue nightclub will cost about $1.5 million, with construction funds coming from the proceeds of his sale of Hammerjacks to the state. The building is expected to open this year.
New nightclub district being created downtown
Louie-Louie's is one of several nightclubs and restaurants that are staking out a new nightclub district on the north side of downtown, near the Jones Falls Expressway.
Andrea Moore-Burkert and Stephen Carullo recently acquired the old House of Welsh restaurant at 300 E. Saratoga St. and is transforming it into a club. Two other groups have applied to Baltimore's Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals to operate after-hours establishments in the area.
A group called Ultrasonic Inc. wants to operate a dance hall and nightclub in an old printing plant at 407 E. Saratoga St., and Sunho Enterprises wants to operate an after-hours club called the China Room at 44 South St., in conjunction with the restaurant there. The zoning board is scheduled to consider both projects when it meets at 1: 30 p.m. Tuesday on the second floor of City Hall, 100 N. Holliday St.
Business owners say the Guilford Avenue corridor is becoming an attractive location for bars and nightclubs because there is easy access from the Jones Falls Expressway and plenty of parking nearby at night.
In addition, there are no nearby neighborhoods with residents who would object to a proliferation of nightclubs the way residents of Federal Hill, Fells Point and Canton have in recent years.
Baltimore Heritage to get Golden Griffin award
Baltimore Heritage Inc., a preservation advocacy group founded in 1962, has been selected to receive the Golden Griffin award from the Baltimore Architecture Foundation during the foundation's annual meeting at 5: 30 p.m. today at 1016 Morton St. in Mount Vernon.
The foundation presents the Golden Griffin award to recognize "individuals, organizations, programs or projects that enhance or encourage understanding, appreciation and use of Baltimore's built environment." Baltimore Heritage and Preservation Maryland have led the effort to preserve historic buildings on downtown Baltimore's west side as part of the area's $350 million revitalization.
Morgan State University architecture Professor Melvin Mitchell will be the keynote speaker for the foundation's meeting and award ceremony.