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This crab may crawl its way to new heights


It's a bird.

It's a plane.

It's a -- neon crab?

More specifically, it's a giant red neon crab that may soon take up residence in Baltimore's Locust Point neighborhood, if a state agency gives its approval.

A local graphics designer, David Ashton and Associates, created the crab as part of a moving sign that would rise above a new manufacturing center and corporate headquarters for Phillips Foods and Restaurants.

Phillips, which started as a seafood restaurant, now also sells take-home products such as crab cakes, crab soup and seasonings. It is working with Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse of Baltimore to open its facility inside the former Coca-Cola syrup plant at 1215 E. Fort Ave. Hord Coplan Macht is the architect.

Ashton's creeping crustacean will pop out of a giant can of Phillips crab meat, climb a 100-foot smokestack and then crawl back down into the can.

Baltimore's Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals approved the sign on Aug. 20. Because the developers are seeking tax credits for recycling the former Coke factory, the sign also must be approved by the Maryland Historical Trust.

If the agency gives its permission in time, the crab could be in place by the end of the year. It would be the second time that a large neon sign has been supported by a Baltimore smokestack, after the Hard Rock Cafe's guitar at the Power Plant.

Aquarium expansion

The National Aquarium hopes to buy one floor of the six-story office building the Cordish Co. is constructing on Pier 4.

Aquarium executive director David Pittenger said he would like to use the building's second floor to house employees now located in the Candler Building on the north side of Pratt Street.

Pittenger said the space in the Cordish building would be a convenient addition to the aquarium's Inner Harbor "campus," which already includes the south ends of Pier 3 and Pier 4.

Aquarium officials will break ground at 11:15 a.m. Thursday for a $61.8 million addition that will feature an Australian River Canyon exhibit by 2005.

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