Urban Landscape: Ground Broken for $30M Ronald McDonald House; Construction Underway for Harbor Point’s ‘Sandlot’; Williams Sonoma Closes Towson Store; Mahan Rykiel Moves to New Home

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Rendering of the planned new Ronald McDonald House, via Ronald McDonald House Charities.

After 35 years on the west side of downtown, the Ronald McDonald House is moving east.

Representatives for the Ronald McDonald House Charities Baltimore joined with First Lady of Maryland Yumi Hogan, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and others to hold a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday for a $30 million, 60,000-square-foot facility at 1 Aisquith Street in Jonestown.

Ronald McDonald Houses provide a home away from home for families with children receiving medical care in area hospitals. Since opening in 1982 at 635 W. Lexington Street, the West Baltimore facility has been the only Ronald McDonald House in Maryland and has served more than 40,000 families.

The Baltimore nonprofit works with six area hospitals, including the University of Maryland Medical Center, the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, the Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Rubin Institute at Sinai Hospital, Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital.

When complete by spring of 2019, the new Ronald McDonald House is expected to accommodate 55 families daily and 2,200 families a year, more than twice what the current one can handle.

“We are thrilled to watch construction over the next 18 to 24 months and our dream of a new Ronald McDonald House in the Jonestown neighborhood of Baltimore become reality,” said Sandy Pagnotti, president of Ronald McDonald House Charities Baltimore. “Thanks to the incredible support of the community, we will double our capacity to serve families in crisis who come to Baltimore in search of hope and care at our world-class medical institutions.”

The groundbreaking ceremony for the new building.

The groundbreaking event was highly emotional, with speeches by public officials and civic leaders interspersed with talks by children and family members who have stayed at the current Ronald McDonald House. Former Baltimore Colt Joe Ehrmann, now an ordained minister and Ronald McDonald House emeritus board member, led a blessing of the construction site.

The five-story building will contain nine two-bedroom suites specifically designed for oncology, bone marrow and transplant patients, 45 rooms that sleep up to five guests each and allow for larger families through adjoining rooms and gathering spaces that promote interaction among guests, including a family room, playroom, kitchen and laundry room. One floor will be reserved for families with “suppressed” immune systems.

Also included will be a so-called serenity room “for solitude, meditation and respite,” a business center and classroom with computers, printers and internet, an outdoor playground with an adjacent picnic and dining area, a “teen room” for older children and a rooftop garden and conference room.

Beatty Harvey Coco is the architect. Whiting Turner is the contractor. As of May 1, representatives said, the nonprofit has raised $27.8 million toward its $30 million fundraising goal. One of the major contributors is the Paterakis/Tsakalos family, which is affiliated with Baltimore’s H&S Bakery, a company that makes hamburger buns for McDonald’s.

Ronald McDonald House campaign co-chair Bill Paterakis told the audience at the groundbreaking event that the relationship between his family and McDonald’s goes back to 1952, with a “handshake agreement” between his late father John Paterakis and McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc.

A view of the planned “Sandlot” at Harbor Point.

Spike Gjerde’s Sandlot Aiming to Open by Memorial Day Weekend

Beatty Development Group and Spike Gjerde’s Foodshed say they are aiming to open Sandlot, a dining and recreation venture at Harbor Point, by Memorial Day weekend.

Gjerde, business partner Corey Polyoka and Beatty received City Planning Commission approval in March to build a family oriented gathering spot that will include volleyball courts, bocce courts, an area for food trucks and a “waterfront beach” overlooking the Inner Harbor.

Construction is now underway, with much of the site covered with sand and pathways. A vintage Airstream trailer and yellow shipping containers have been moved onto the site, which is part of the 27-acre Harbor Point redevelopment area. Studios on Sisson is the contractor.

Williams Sonoma Closes its Towson Store

After holding a sale for the past two months, Williams Sonoma has closed its store at Towson Town Center. The closing leaves two Williams Sonoma stores in the Baltimore area, one at The Village of Cross Keys and the other at The Mall in Columbia.

Oasis Design Group Joins Forces with Kimley-Horn

Oasis Design Group of Baltimore has joined up with Kimley-Horn, a national planning, design and engineering firm based in Raleigh, N.C. Oasis will now operate under the Kimley-Horn name.

Oasis Design Group was founded in 2005 by landscape architect Scott Scarfone. Its portfolio includes public gardens and parks, conservatories, urban riverfronts, streetscapes, plazas, mixed-use developments, wineries, ecological preserves and multifamily residential communities.

“We are excited about the enhanced capabilities that Scott brings to our Baltimore office and our national landscape architecture team,” said Steve Lefton of Kimley-Horn in a statement. “His innovative designs and planning expertise will provide a wonderful complement to the creative, collaborative team at Kimley-Horn. I’m thrilled that he’s joining us.”

Mahan Rykiel Moves to a New Home

Mahan Rykiel Associates has moved to its new home at Whitehall Mill, located at 3300 Clipper Mill Road in the Jones Falls Valley. Mahan Rykiel, a landscape architect and land planner, is the largest office tenant at the converted mill, which also contains apartments and commercial space.

Eager Park Dedication Ceremony Scheduled for Friday

A dedication ceremony will be held Friday for Eager Park, a 5.5-acre green space at the heart of the 88-acre East Baltimore Development Inc. community. Mahan Rykiel was the landscape architect.

A rendering of the planned new Carbiz showroom in Laurel, via Carbiz.

Maryland Company Offers a New Way to Buy Cars

Most used car dealerships have a glass-enclosed showroom surrounded by a parking with additional cars on display. The majority of the vehicle for sale are in the outdoor lot.

But a Baltimore-area used car dealership is taking a different approach. Carbiz is building a 35,000-square-foot sales center where every car will be indoors. Instead of walking through a lot, customers will be able to choose a car right inside the store.

Carbiz officials say their new location will be the first of its kind in the area. Plans call for a “brightly branded, high-design” store that will showcase 200 or more certified vehicles of every make and model. Company officials say it’s intended to be a destination in and of itself.

There won’t be any stereotypical commissioned used-car salesmen on the premises, either. Carbiz says “approachable experience specialists” will guide buyers through the car-buying process, and “technology” will complete the sale without the need for traditional paperwork. Customers will be able to ponder their purchases while “relaxing and enjoying video games.”

“We’re putting consumers in the driver’s seat of the car-buying experience,” said Carbiz CEO Evan Berney in a statement. “Our vision is to transform the way customers buy cars, and we’ve made a huge shift in our business model to power that vision.”

The location is 8751 Freestate Drive in Laurel. The shell already existed as part of a larger flex-space development. The new showroom will be a companion to Carbiz’s dealership at 6001 Reisterstown Road in Baltimore County.

Construction began at the Laurel location in March, and a grand opening is scheduled for July 1.


Ed Gunts

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