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Baltimore lawmakers endorse Cross Street Market liquor license plan

Baltimore's representatives in Annapolis endorsed a plan Friday to mount a last-minute push to create a special new liquor license for Cross Street Market in Federal Hill, part of a deal to renovate the 170-year-old venue.

The city entered into a agreement last year to have Towson-based developer Caves Valley Partners overhaul the market, and the developer asked for legislation to create a single liquor license that could be used by multiple vendors.

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But the arrangement with Caves Valley looked to have collapsed in February, and so lawmakers didn't write the provision into a bill that would make several changes to liquor laws in South Baltimore.

Now, with the developer back at the negotiating table, Del. Luke Clippinger told his colleagues in the city delegation that lawmakers who represent the area are hoping to amend the bill with a week left in the legislative session.

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Clippinger, a Democrat, acknowledged that the project has been divisive in the community. Some residents already feel besieged by drunken revelers on the weekends, but others see the deal with Caves Valley as a chance to update the faded Cross Street Market.

A representative of Caves Valley could not immediately be reached for comment.

The bill, which would also create a license for a large restaurant in the Port Covington development, has already passed the House of Delegates and is pending in the state Senate. The other markets and food halls that have sprung up around the city in recent years have similar licenses.

The General Assembly has already agreed to include $200,000 in bonds to help fund the Cross Street Market renovations. Clippinger said that money would be passed on to the existing tenants to spare them from rapid increases in rent.

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