Land Swap Leads to Land Clearance in North Baltimore; More Parking Proposed for Federal Hill; Friendly’s Closing in Lutherville; Kate Rowe Leaving the National Aquarium

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Land clearance view from the JFX

A land swap finalized last summer has resulted in a radically altered landscape on the west side of the Jones Falls Expressway, just north of Cold Spring Lane in North Baltimore.

Drivers heading in or out of the city along I-83 now pass a six-acre tract where dozens of mature trees have been cleared west of the Central Maryland Light Rail line, making it possible to see the bare ground.

The land that is being cleared consists of two parcels totaling 6.32 acres that the city of Baltimore transferred to the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company earlier this year. BGE plans to use the land, known as the Camp Small site, to build an electric substation to serve homes and businesses in North Baltimore, replacing an existing substation off West Cold Spring Lane.

Existing substation

To obtain the 6.32 acres, BGE conveyed to the city 16.143 acres it owned west of the Jones Falls Expressway, just south of Cold Spring Lane. That land, known as the Melvale Open Space, was the site of a large gas tank that stood on the property for decades and was imploded in 2013.  As part of the transaction, the city also gained the rights to acquire at fair market value another 10.057 acres of adjacent BGE property in the future.

Baltimore’s Board of Estimates approved a “Land Disposition and Swap Agreement” on August 10, 2016, and the land clearance is now reaching the point where work is underway and changes are noticeable. Drivers traveling along the JFX can see remnants of some of the cut-down trees, lying on the ground and waiting to be hauled away.

According to the Board of Estimates agenda item that was prepared by the Baltimore Development Corporation, no money changed hands as part of the transaction.  The 16.143-acre parcel will be used by the city for parkland and trails, connected to the city’s existing trail system. The second 10 acres, according to swap agreement, can be purchased anytime within the next 20 years for “future transit-oriented, mixed-use development.”

“The resulting land swap with BGE will create more usable open space and improve future potential for transit-oriented development along W. Cold Spring Lane,” the Baltimore Development Corporation stated.

According to city officials, BGE plans to plant new trees and other vegetation around the new substation on the Camp Small property, and community residents have been consulted.  A spokesman for the utility said last week that he could provide details once BGE’s offices reopen following the Christmas holiday.

More parking proposed for Federal Hill

The Parking Authority of Baltimore City is studying the idea of adding a fourth level to the West Street Garage at 40 East West Street in Federal Hill, according to The expansion would add about 90 parking spaces, the website noted, quoting City Councilman Eric Costello.

Schamu, Machowski & Patterson moving to Cathedral Street


After 22 years at 1016 Morton Street in Mount Vernon, the architectural firm of Schamu, Machowski & Patterson is moving to 1100 Cathedral Street, just north of the Waxter Center. Founder Walter Schamu said his firm acquired the building this fall and he expects the move to take place within the next few months.

Over the years, SM+P and its predecessors had considered sites on Holliday Street and Charles Street, among others, before deciding on Cathedral Street.

Kate Rowe leaving the National Aquarium

One of the most enthusiastic and energetic boosters of the National Aquarium is moving on. After more than five years as director of media relations for the aquarium, Kate Rowe has announced that she will be leaving at the end of 2016 to start her own business.

“Kate has been a valued member of the Aquarium team in so many ways,” said Chief Executive Officer John Racanelli. “She has been a tireless advocate for our conservation mission, always approaching her work with energy, great enthusiasm, and a positive attitude. While I’m going to miss her, I couldn’t be happier for her as she takes on this next chapter of her career. “

Final week for Baynesville Electronics

December 31 will be the last day for Baynesville Electronics at 1631 East Joppa Road.  The company announced in September that it was closing, after 61 years in business.

Ukazoo Books closed temporarily

Ukazoo Books has closed at 730 Dulaney Valley Road to prepare for its move to 8641 Loch Raven Boulevard early next year. Race Pace Bicycles is moving into Ukazoo’s space on Dulaney Valley Road.

Friendly’s closing in Lutherville on December 28

December 28 is the last day of business for the Friendly’s restaurant at 1414 York Road in Lutherville, according to The Towson Times. Friendly’s has been at that location since 1975.

Luna Bella restaurant is closing in Howard County

Luna Bella Italian restaurant is closing after 15 years in the Hickory Ridge Village Center in Howard County, according to the Howard County Times. Owners Celeste Gebler and Joe Iacia decided to close at the end of the year following failed lease negotiations with their landlord, Kimco Realty, which is redeveloping the property, the Times reported.

Alewife bar and restaurant up for sale

Alewife, a bar and restaurant at 21 S. Eutaw Street, across from the Hippodrome Theater on Baltimore’s West Side, has been listed for sale for $425,000, according to the Baltimore Business Journal. Alewife leases the building it occupies, formerly home to the Baltimore Equitable Society, and the business is listed by Transworld Business Advisors, the journal notes.

Baltimore Eagle may miss New Year’s Eve reopening, general manager warns

Operators of the Baltimore Eagle bar, currently undergoing a million-dollar renovation at 2022 North Charles Street, are warning that they may not be open in time for New Year’s Eve, as they had hoped.

General Manager Charles King told the Washington Blade that the business, closed since 2012 and now under new owners, needs to pass several city inspections before it can get an occupancy permit, and it may be after January 1 before that happens.  “If we’re not open for New Year’s Eve, we hope to be open within a couple of weeks after,” King was quoted as saying.

Ed Gunts

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