Junior Achievement Eyes Camden Station; ‘It’s a Child Not a Chai,’ Say Rodgers Forge Protesters; Who Will Replace Graziano?

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More than a year after the Sports Legends Museum closed its doors, a possible new tenant has emerged for historic Camden Station in downtown Baltimore.

Junior Achievement of Central Maryland has been meeting with the Maryland Stadium Authority and the Baltimore Orioles about leasing space inside the former train station at 301 W. Camden Street.

Last week, Junior Achievement representatives toured the 1856 landmark, which is being offered in part or as an entirety. Dallas Dance, the Baltimore County Public Schools superintendent, was scheduled to be part of the walk-through.

Kim Fabian, senior vice president, said Junior Achievement of Central Maryland is seeking additional space for its programs, which serve 40,000 young people a year, from kindergarten to 12th grade.

“We’re looking to potentially expand, and that’s one of the locations we’re looking at,” she said.

Fabian said she did not have a timetable for a move-in and could not say what part of Camden Station Junior Achievement might occupy.

“It’s an exploratory process we’re going through,” she said. “Nothing is final at this point.”

Junior Achievement of Central Maryland is part of a national nonprofit organization that has 100 chapters. The Maryland chapter was founded in 1957, and its main office is located at 10711 Red Run Boulevard in Owings Mills.

According to its website, Junior Achievement works with a variety of partners to expose students to future careers and prepare them to succeed in the workplace and make smart academic and economic choices. Its programs provide hands-on experiences in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship.  They range from courses in coding to job shadowing and summer camp.

The Sports Legends Museum opened on the first and basement levels of Camden Station in 2005 as an affiliate of the Babe Ruth Museum and Birthplace at 216 Emory Street, which is still open.

When it closed in October 2015, Sports Legends was the first downtown attraction to shut down after the April 2015 riots that took place in Baltimore following the in-custody death of West Baltimore resident Freddie Gray. According to state officials, Sports Legends had not paid rent since August of 2014 and owed the state more than $300,000 in back rent and other charges.

When Sports Legends closed, museum representatives said they were unsuccessful in efforts to negotiate a new lease at Camden Station and would seek a new location. The museum has not opened elsewhere.

The train terminal was preserved and restored by the state as part of the Camden Yards sports complex, with Cho Benn Holback + Associates as the architect. The station served passengers using the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad to travel to New York, Washington, Chicago and St. Louis for more than a century. For a time, it was Baltimore’s tallest building.

The Sports Legends Museum occupied 22,551 square feet on the first and basement levels of the renovated train terminal, featuring a mix of artifacts and interactive exhibits. It was operating on a month-to-month lease with the state when it closed.

Sports Legends was one of two tenants at Camden Station, along with Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, a “pop culture” museum that occupies 16,055 square feet on the upper two floors.

According to stadium authority officials, Geppi’s lease was up at the end of August 2016, and it missed a deadline to request a lease extension, so it is operating on a month-to-month lease as of September. It is up-to-date with its rent, officials say.

Geppi’s has expressed interest in leasing the entire building but has not reached an agreement with the stadium authority, officials say. As a result, the stadium authority has told other prospects that the entire building is available for lease for the first time since Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened in 1992.

Last year, the stadium authority issued a request for expressions of interest from businesses and organizations that would like to lease some or all of the space in the train station.  At the time, officials said they hope to get higher rents for space in the building than the below-market rates that Sports Legends had been paying.

“We decided we need to find a tenant who could pay as close to market rate as possible for the Camden Station property,” Stadium Authority Executive Director Michael Frenz said last year. “We just didn’t think it’s good for us to have a tenant paying below-market rent for an extended period.”

Rodgers Forge residents protest proposed Starbucks drive-through

Residents of Rodgers Forge, Stoneleigh and Anneslie will meet today to discuss plans for a new Starbucks coffee shop at York Road and Regester Avenue, where Bradford Federal Savings and Loan Association used to be.

The former bank has been fenced off, and contractors have begun removing asbestos in preparation for its demolition to make way for a Starbucks.

Last Friday afternoon, more than a dozen people stood at the corner of York Road and Regester Avenue to protest the project. They say they don’t object to Starbucks itself but are concerned about plans for a drive-through window and the traffic patterns it would create. They say the area has a lot of school children headed to nearby Dumbarton Middle School, and a drive-through depositing more cars onto Regester Avenue would make the intersection less safe for pedestrians.

Protestors waved placards with sayings such as, “Coffee, Not Cars” and “It’s a child, not a chai.”

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks has scheduled a meeting today at 6:15 p.m. at Idlewylde Community Hall, 6301 Sherwood Road, to discuss the project and efforts to keep the area safe for pedestrians.

Whitehall Mill lands Mahan Rykiel, MK Engineering

After 15 years in the Stieff Silver building in Hampden, the landscape architecture, and land planning firm of Mahan Rykiel Associates is moving to Whitehall Mill, the latest historic mill conversion in the Jones Falls Valley.

Scott Rykiel, co-founder and executive vice president of the company, said Mahan Rykiel principals last week signed a lease to occupy approximately 10,000 square feet of space in the $20 million Whitehall Mill development at 3300 Clipper Mill Road and expect to move in by April of 2017. The company has 48 employees. Gensler is designing Mahan Rykiel’s space.

Rykiel said the firm considered a number of options before deciding on Whitehall Mill, including downtown Baltimore. He said the company was attracted to the Hampden location and the mixed-use nature of Whitehall Mill, which eventually will have a food market, coffee shop, and restaurant as well as apartments and office space.

Rykiel said the principals liked that Whitehall Mill is one of a series of adaptive reuse projects that are bringing new life to the Jones Falls Valley, that it has on-site parking, that it’s accessible by light rail as well as by car, and that it feels connected to a larger community. It has a creative vibe that appeals to the millennials that Mahan Rykiel wants to attract and retain, he said.

“It’s the market and coffee shop and restaurant that attracted us. And it’s in Baltimore,” he said. “We’re a Baltimore firm. We wanted to stay in Baltimore.”

The work space has high ceilings with exposed trusses, plenty of natural light, operable windows, and views of the Jones Falls. The elevated Jones Falls Expressway comes close by, but the studio is not noisy because the building is lower than the road.

For a landscape architecture firm, it’s fitting to be near water and see a natural landscape from the office windows, Rykiel noted. “When you look in either direction, you see greenery and the Jones Falls…It’s cool space.”

This will be the fifth location for Mahan Rykiel, which was started in 1983 by landscape architect Catherine Mahan with offices on Charles Street and became Mahan Rykiel in 1993.

Terra Nova Ventures is the developer of Whitehall Mill, and Alexander Design Studio is the architect. Mahan Rykiel is one of two new office tenants there. The other new tenant is MK Engineering, which will occupy space in the same building where Mahan Rykiel is moving.

 

Two public meetings on the Royal Farms “Gateway” project in Towson

Two meetings will be held this week about a controversial plan to build a Royal Farms gas station and convenience store at York Road and Bosley Avenue, a gateway to the county seat.

Today at 7 p.m., public officials are holding a “final community input meeting” to hear comments about the project. The meeting will be held in the Minnegan Room in the field house at the Johnny Unitas Stadium complex on Auburn Drive, part of the Towson University campus. State Sen. James Brochin and State Dec. Stephen Lafferty scheduled the meeting.

On Dec. 13, the Baltimore County Council will hear public testimony about the Royal Farms project during a work session that starts at 2 p.m. at the Old County Courthouse, 400 Washington Avenue.

The project has been criticized by people who say it would be a poor gateway for Towson and would not be consistent with the county’s goals of making the area more walkable.

Pure Raw Juice opens a York Road location

Pure Raw Juice has opened at York Road and Regester Avenue, in the former Harry Little’s sub shop space. This is the second location for Pure Raw Juice, which features juice blends and smoothies and started at 1401 Riverside Avenue in South Baltimore.

Liquor license approved for Café Fili in Mount Vernon

Café Fili, a Mediterranean café, is coming to 816 Cathedral Street, in place of Milk and Honey. Baltimore’s liquor board last week approved a liquor license for the business, which plans to serve paninis, soups, salads, flatbreads, coffee, tea, wine, beer, and cocktails.

Artist Bennard Perlman dies

Bennard Perlman died on December 9 after a long career as a painter, writer, and educator. For 32 years, he served as professor and chairman of the Department of Fine and Applied Arts at the Community College of Baltimore. His work has been exhibited at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Maryland Institute College of Art and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and is in the permanent collections of the U. S. Library of Congress and the Johns Hopkins University, among others.

A funeral service was scheduled for today at 10 a.m. at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road. A post-internment service is scheduled for today at 7 p.m. at the Pikesville Double Tree by Hilton, 1726 Reisterstown Road.

Will Michael Braverman be Baltimore’s next housing commissioner?

Baltimore’s new mayor, Catherine Pugh, has said she doesn’t want current city housing commissioner Paul Graziano to remain in office during her term, but she hasn’t said who might take his place.

Last week, at the demolition ceremony for the Madison Park North Apartments, there was a sign. Graziano was conspicuously absent from the event, and the city’s housing department was represented by Pugh and deputy commissioner Michael Braverman. Observers say Braverman knows the department well, is highly respected and would be a popular choice to succeed Graziano.

Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.
Ed Gunts


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2 COMMENTS

  1. Gunts and Fishbowl do better updates on development than one can find in Sun or Business Journal. Lots of tireless legwork and excellent interviewing. Congrats.

  2. Glad to see a major tenant for Whitehall Mill, but I think saying it is convenient to light rail is a bit of a stretch. Just guessing, but I think it’s 1/3 to 1/2 a mile from the Woodberry Station and that stretch of Clipper Mill from Union Avenue is not exactly pedestrian friendly.

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