Restaurateur Spike Gjerde’s new Inner Harbor venture, the Sandlot, cleared a key development hurdle this spring when Baltimore’s Planning Commission approved the design.
Gjerde and business partner Corey Polyoka of Foodshed are working with Beatty Development Group, Harbor Point’s master developer, to create a family-oriented recreation and dining area along the water’s edge at Harbor Point, the 27-acre renewal area between Harbor East and Fells Point.
Beatty Harvey Coco, one of the architects for Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Pendry Baltimore hotel, is the planner for the Sandlot, which will occupy about a quarter of an acre next to a large parking lot on the site. Part of the land has been designated for use as a “waterfront beach” – an idea former Mayor William Donald Schaefer had for the Inner Harbor in the 1970s.
The developers were seeking approval to build the Sandlot as a “temporary use” and needed an amendment to the Harbor Point planned unit development legislation.
In a staff presentation, city planner Anthony Cataldo showed site plans and provided new details about the project, which was first disclosed in January. He told commission members there is already a temporary promenade around the area and that the Sandlot project is meant to draw people to Harbor Point by providing activities and places to linger along the water’s edge.
“It is really the desire of the development team to create a place out on the Point for people both who live here on the Point as well as the community at large to continue their promenade experience out to the edge of Harbor Point and really sort of experience the waterfront and the city from that perspective,” he said. “As such, they are proposing an interim public open space condition which builds on the existing public open space by expanding it towards the east.”
Cataldo said the interim park space will include volleyball courts, bocce courts and “a raised deck area” that accepts “mobile food truck station units that can roll out onto the site, to really create a venue for people to come and recreate and stay and enjoy food and beverage.”
Cataldo said the developer’s plans include a lightweight “trellis-scaffolding system that will create some opportunities for signage,” and recycled shipping containers that will be used “to define some of the edges” and provide storage for sports equipment and movable chairs.
Palettes will be used to create stages or an amphitheater, and wood and metal planting boxes will contain trees and plants. One stretch of land has been set aside for a beach. Cataldo said the developers have a liquor license for a restaurateur and that their plans also call for public restrooms, “which will be a huge improvement” for people walking on the promenade.
“It’s really sort of activating this outer edge of the park space while construction continues on the rest of the Point,” he explained. “The area is open to the public. It really will serve as a resource for the immediate community … but also … creates a destination point out there for the community and the city at large.”
Foodshed is the development arm of the Woodberry Kitchen family of restaurants from Spike and Amy Gjerde and Corey Polyoka. The food component of the Sandlot will be the first downtown and waterfront development for Foodshed, which builds and develops hospitality projects for “people who care about our food system.”
No one spoke in opposition to the project at the March 23 meeting. City Planning Director Tom Stosur said the plans are “very exciting.” The developers have said they hope to open the Sandlot this spring.