The former New York Fried Chicken building on the corner of North Avenue and Charles Street used to be a monument to late night bad-decision eating (oh, those little styrofoam tubs of mac n cheese!); but since it was shuttered over a year ago, it’s become a symbol of the precarious state of Station North, a neighborhood hovering somewhere between gentrification and neglect. So we were excited to hear about the recently-announced plans to redevelop the building and incorporate it into the area’s thriving arts community.
Once redevelopment is complete, the building will host the offices of Station North Arts & Entertainment Inc., as well as the permanent home of Baltimore’s Annex Theater. If you’re a fan of Baltimore’s DIY theater scene, odds are you’re well aware of the Annex, the experimental company that produced Threepenny Opera, Salome, and, most recently, a festival of Twilight Zone-inspired plays. For years, Annex Theater has been putting up its shows in local warehouse spaces. The move to an official, permanent venue presents “[a] chance at being a part of this intentionally above-ground, loud and proud arts and entertainment district,” according to the Annex. “How very different from the cautious days of running a theater company in the Copycat Annex, for example, with no guarantee that events would go on without interruption.” In other words, instead of battling landlords and worrying whether the roof will cave in, the company will be able to focus more thoroughly on their productions.
Ben Stone, executive director of Station North Arts & Entertainment, sees the whole neighborhood in a similar way: “It’s a good combination of having available properties, buildings that are still vacant here, but unlike some other parts of the city, there are a number of assets and organizations working here. It’s not just a desolate, abandoned, vacant area—it’s an area with some vacancies, but there’s more of a potential with vacancy [here] than there is blight,” he told Technically Baltimore.
The Annex Theater’s new season, its first in the former fast food spot, will kick off in December with Ubik, an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel (December 6-30), and will also includ Equus (January 31-February 24); Macbeth (May 16-June 9), Argonne (June 27-July 14), and its own interpretation of the annual 10 Minute Play Festival in August 2013.