Broadway revival planned

The Baltimore Sun

People are sitting shoulder to shoulder at the deli counter, sipping coffee and biting into bacon-and-egg sandwiches. And folks are lined up to buy the bakery's fresh bread and pastries.

But those are the only remaining signs of life at the Broadway Market, once a thriving food bazaar and an indispensable part of Fells Point life.

The north leg of the historic marketplace is nearly half-empty, with the butcher, the fried-chicken people, the candy booth all gone.

A neighborhood tavern owner, however, has an ambitious plan to bring back the market's vitality with stalls selling staples like produce and meat as well as high-end takeout foods that he hopes will attract the professionals who have been snapping up pricey homes nearby.

"Before there was a Safeway and a Whole Foods, this is what this city has always been about," said Michael Maraziti, the owner of One-Eyed Mike's on South Bond Street. "We're hoping to get people really proud of the market again."

Maraziti has signed a long-term lease for most of the empty space in the north building. He was to start replacing the dated decor with a nautical theme over the weekend. By June, he hopes to open One-Eyed Mike's Galley and Marketplace.

Maraziti said he'll move his restaurant's food preparation to the market and start selling take-home portions of menu favorites, including lasagna and meatballs. In addition to the produce and meat, he'll have fresh flowers, cold cuts, a full cheese section and an olive bar.

He'd also like to keep the market open longer than 6 p.m., to make it convenient for people coming home from work to stop for dinner. He's also considering Sunday hours.

Stalwart shoppers who crowded the few remaining market shops on Good Friday looking for their traditional Easter foods found all the vacant stalls depressing.

Irene Glorioso, who grew up in Fells Point, brought her family in from Rosedale to buy blessing bread at Sophia's bakery.

"They have less and less, but we still come back," she said, adding that the place where she used to pick up Easter greens is gone, as is her daughter's favorite french fry spot.

"I hope they do fill this place back in - just the way it used to be."

Tony Kosiba, who grew up in Dundalk but now lives in Columbia, hit the market looking for butter lambs - blocks of butter in the shape of the Easter symbol.

"Back when I was a little boy, they had the flower market, they had the fish market. I'd come down here with my father and we would get Polish sausage and chicken - it was one-stop shopping," he said.

The city-owned Broadway Market, which dates to 1864, is managed by the city's Public Markets Corp., a nonprofit organization established to run Baltimore's traditional shopping areas, which include Cross Street Market and Lexington Market.

The vacancies, depressing for longtime customers, are a financial drag for the few remaining shopkeepers. Vikki Powers, who's run Vikki's Fells Point Deli for 19 years, can't wait for Maraziti to get going.

"We're just counting the days," she said. "Once people are back here, with people behind the stalls, product in the cases and the place is cleaned up, it will start back up."

Maraziti plans coincide and potentially conflict with a development team's more intense plan to revamp the entire 600 block of Broadway.

Dave Holmes and Dan Winner need control of the entire north market building to anchor their project, called Marketplace at Fells Point, a plan that also includes stores, offices and maybe even homes stretching along both sides of the block.

The developers want to move the remaining tenants into the south building and replace them with one or two large and more upscale shops in a remodeled building.

Maraziti said his lease with the city includes a clause that if a developer should take over the market, the developers would pay to relocate his business.

Winner said Maraziti's plan to fill in the market "complicates" his project, which still needs City Council approval, not to mention a commitment from the city to pay for the extensive renovations the developers have in mind. If he and Holmes get control of the market, Winner said Maraziti's shops would make it that much harder to relocate tenants.

"At the end of the day," Holmes said, "We're all trying to work toward improving Fells Point."

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