The portion of the Roland Park Shopping Center, 4800 Roland Ave., where a second restaurant is planned, is structurally unsound, Baltimore City's preservation board has told the Roland Park Civic League.
The Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, or CHAP, cited "serious structural concerns" about the former Roland Park Bakery & Deli space, where restaurateur Tony Foreman and chef Cindy Wolf planned to open a restaurant this spring at a lower price point than the existing Petit Louis bistro in the center.
Because of those concerns, the affected area will be rebuilt with a new foundation — probably pushing the opening of the restaurant back to summer, said Allison Parker-Abromitis, spokeswoman for the Foreman Wolf Restaurant Group.
The cost of doing that is "not insignificant," Parker-Abromitis said. But she added, "It's important to build a structure that will be safe and last a long time."
The former deli space is an addition to the historic shopping center, which opened in the late 1800s. But the addition itself is thought to be more than 80 years old, and it once housed a trolley brake repair shop and later an insurance agency and the offices of Roland Park Roads and Maintenance.
The Foreman Wolf Restaurant Group found the problems during construction of the restaurant and reported the problems to CHAP and the league, Parker-Abromitis said.
The problems "are sufficiently serious that construction cannot proceed until they are remedied," according to the league's most recent newsletter, which was emailed to members Friday.
Foreman and Wolf, who also own Petit Louis, and the shopping center's owners, Tricia and James Ward, plan to "dismantle the existing wood frame deli building on the north end (of the center) and reconstruct (it)," the league reports in the newsletter, based on information from Parker-Abromitis.
The restaurant group and the Wards made the decision "after discovering additional significant deterioration of the frame structure and extensive termite damage," the league said.
Parker-Abromitis confirmed the damage and said it may stem from the fact that the dirt floor of the brakeman's shop was covered with cement slab, but not a foundation.
Because the center is designated as historic, "the owner and tenant are proposing to rebuild the north structure such that the exterior appearance is as close to a replica of the existing structure as possible," the league said.
CHAP must approve any exterior changes to the historic center. The league and its Architectural Review Committee must also approve changes, under legal covenants that the Wards signed, the league states.
The league said the structural problems appear to relate only to the old deli area, not to the rest of the shopping center. Nonetheless, the league will ask the Wards to assess the structural integrity of the rest of the center, "if that has not already occurred," and to report back to the league.
"The Civic League has already requested that the owner, tenant and architect make every effort possible to copy the form and appearance of the existing deli structure in their proposed plans," the league states.