Photo via the Sandlot

Even though it just opened, Sandlot Baltimore is already looking to expand, upgrade and increase its staff.

Corey Polyoka, part of the management team with Spike and Amy Gjerde, said last week that plans are in the works to add 10,000 square feet of sand to the 30,000-square-foot dining and entertainment venue at Harbor Point. The additional space, he said, will give the area a more finished look along the shoreline.

Polyoka said plans are underway to provide restrooms with plumbing, something patrons desire. At present, the Sandlot is served by port-a-potties.

Managers are also planning to hire another 10 to 15 employees in coming weeks to supplement the 30 who were in place for the opening.

Polyoka disclosed the expansion plans one day after its official opening, which was the kind of debut restaurateurs live for, but rarely experience.

Hundreds visited the waterfront hangout on opening day last Thursday, enough for it to reach capacity. Many more came throughout the weekend.

“The space blows people away,” Polyoka said. “People love it.”

Photo via the Sandlot

Located at 1000 Wills Street, the Sandlot is a mostly outdoor dining and entertainment venue that includes volleyball and bocce courts, a children’s play area, hammocks, shipping containers converted to a bar and kitchen, an ice cream stand made from an Airstream trailer and panoramic views of Baltimore’s harbor. Of the 30,000 square feet of space in the project, about 920 square feet is covered. The menu from the kitchen includes sandwiches, nachos and other light fare.

Polyoka said the food service area’s capacity is 340, but that there is no exact limit for the grounds, which are privately operated but meant to feel like a park.

The unusual nature of the enterprise has led to some unusual methods to its installation and operation.

First, the sand: More than 75 dump truck loads of sand were brought onto the property, and the sand is six to eight inches deep. Most of it has a yellowish hue and is “virgin sand” that came from a quarry in Kent County. There’s also some white sand used to delineate a seating area, and some dark crushed gravel used for pathways.

Shoes-free zone: The Sandlot is a shoes-free zone for those who want to go barefoot. Patrons who leave theirs on are likely to leave with sandy, yellow footwear.

Outdoor furniture: The Sandlot has plenty of seating. Some of it consists of picnic tables and benches that can stay out overnight. Other furniture has cushions that are stored every night in one of the storage containers, so it lasts longer and won’t get stolen. It takes about an hour to put away the furniture.

Alcohol restrictions: Entrance to the Sandlot is free and open to everyone, including children. To control who can buy alcoholic beverages, management checks IDs and issues wristbands to those who are of age. Signs are posted around the perimeter of the property to show where drinks can and cannot be consumed. A security team enforces the rules.

Parking: Parking is available on the surface lot between the Exelon Tower and the Sandlot. Covered parking is available under the Exelon Tower.

Volleyball courts: There are six courts. Three are for team play. Three are unprogrammed.

Closing time: Hours of operation are Monday to Friday, 4 to 11 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Closing time is treated as it is in most establishments, with last call warnings and food and beverage service stopping at a certain point. The Sandlot is planned to be a seasonal attraction, open during the warmer months and most likely closing in the winter.

Beatty Harvey Coco was the architect. Luke Steckel of Studios on Sisson was the contractor. Mahan Rykiel Associates served as the landscape architect. The shipping containers came from the Port of Baltimore.

Polyoka said one design inspiration for the Sandlot was “the islands,” meaning the Caribbean. Another was Constitution Yards, a 30,000-square-foot seasonal beer garden along the Christiana Riverwalk in Wilmington, Del., which was a fallow urban space that was reactivated, similar to how Harbor Point was a former chromium plant. He said he also wanted to create activities for children, because he has his own and wanted to create a place for them.

Polyoka said he knows management needs to make service more efficient for a large volume of patrons, and managers are taking steps to do just that.

Will there be a Sandlot Philadelphia or Sandlot Washington? Polyoka said he’s focusing on Baltimore.

Is it likely to calm down over the summer? Don’t count on it.

Council members hear testimony. Photo by Ed Gunts.

City Council Scheduled to Take Final Vote on The Overlook

The Baltimore City Council is scheduled to take a final vote today on zoning legislation that would permit construction of The Overlook at Roland Park, a $40 million, 148-unit apartment building planned for 1190 W. Northern Parkway. About 50 protestors gathered at Northern Parkway and Falls Road today to express their opposition to the project.

The council voted 14-to-0 on “second reader” last week to approve the Overlook, with Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke abstaining. The “third reader” vote, happening today, is generally consistent with the second.

Last week, the Mount Washington community association board voted to oppose the project after hearing a discussion about it at its annual meeting. The Roland Park Civic League voted to oppose the project one week before.

However, both votes came after a City Council committee had already taken a key vote on the development and received signs of support from the Roland Park North Association, the Poplar Hill Association, the Planning Commission and other city agencies.

Photo via Mount Washington Village Association

City Council Resolution on Baltimore Clayworks

The council is also expected to vote on a resolution introduced by Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer concerning the sale of Baltimore Clayworks’ properties in Mount Washington.

The resolution was drafted “for the purpose of requesting that the Governor of Maryland, and the Members of the Board of Public Works of Maryland, reject the proposed sale of two buildings owned by Baltimore Clayworks at 5706 and 5707 Smith Avenue in the Mt. Washington community of Baltimore City, to ensure that they remain a vital part of the larger Baltimore Clayworks community and an asset for the Citizens of Baltimore City.”

To address a financial shortfall, the Clayworks board has negotiated a contract to sell its Smith Avenue buildings to nonprofit Itineris for $3.7 million. The transaction is expected to come before the Board of Public Works in July.

Jim Smith joins Maryland Stadium Authority

Jim Smith, chief of strategic alliances to Mayor Catherine Pugh, is the newest member of the Maryland Stadium Authority as the mayor’s representative. He replaced former Chief of Staff Tisha Edwards, who left the Pugh administration to take another job.

The wooden houses in October 2016. Photo by Ed Gunts.

Historic Wooden Houses Receive Recognition

Two historic wooden houses at 612 and 614 S. Wolfe Street in Fells Point were scheduled to receive long overdue recognition today, when Baltimore’s preservation commission installs a plaque spelling out their significance.

The plaque calls the structures Caulker’s Houses and notes that occupants before the Civil War included “free African Americans employed as caulkers in adjacent shipyards.” Research indicates the houses were built around 1797, the same year Baltimore was officially incorporated as a municipality, and occupied prior to 1801.

“These remaining houses …are rarities in the Mid-Atlantic region and believed to be the sole survivors of their kind in Baltimore,” the plaque states. “Now owned by the Society for the Preservation of Federal Hill and Fell’s Point, the houses — through their rehabilitation — provide a unique educational opportunity to expand the knowledge of the multi-layered history of Fell’s Point. “

The preservation society has formed a group to focus on restoring the houses and finding an appropriate use for them.

“The dedication of the plaque is an effort to bring the houses to the attention of a wider audience,” said board member David Gleason. “There is a Friends group now involved and hopefully this help in their efforts to secure interest in finding solutions for the restoration/reconstruction of the houses.”

The inside of Open Works. Photo by Karl Connolly

Baltimore Heritage Awards Announced

Open Works, the maker space at 1400 Greenmount Avenue, received the Historic Baltimore Neighborhoods Award last week from Baltimore Heritage, a citywide preservation organization, during its 2017 Preservation Awards ceremony at Lexington Market. Baltimore Arts Realty Corp. was the developer; Cho Benn Holback, a Quinn Evans Company, was the architect, and Southway Builders was the builder.

Other awards included:

Heritage Preservation Awards

  • Baltimore Brick by Brick, a blog about bricks by Max Pollack.
  • Baltimore Immigration Memorial and Museum Inc. in Locust Point, presented to its board.
  • G. Krug and Son Ironworks Museum, presented to its directors.
  • The Herring Run Archaeology Project, presented to Jason Shellenhamer and Lisa Kraus.

Do It Yourself Award, also known as the “Sweat Equity” Award

  • The Schiller/Mooney residence at 110 S. Chapel Street. Kurt Schiller and Janet Mooney are the owners, and Adam Tawney was the architect.

Restoration and Rehabilitation Awards

  • 1523 Bolton Street — Patricia and Qayum Karzai, owners; Unique Resources, contractor; David H. Gleason Associates, architect.
  • 1403 Eutaw Place — Lauren Cartoux, owner.
  • 151 N. Lakewood Avenue, Patterson Park Development, developer; Kathleen Lechleiter, architect.
  • 1000 Block of McDonough Place — Eager Park West LLC, developer; Mary Ellen Hayward and O’Connell and Associates, consultants.
  • 708 Park Avenue — Vassiliki Aloneftis, owner; East End Design Group, designer.
  • Pine Street Police Station — University of Maryland, Baltimore, owner; Read & Company Architects, architect; J. Vinton Schafer, contractor.
  • 666 Washington Boulevard — William and Elizabeth Mount, owners; O’Connell and Associates, designer.

Adaptive Reuse and Compatible Design Awards

  • 1618, 1626, 1628 Bank Street — ATI, Inc., Poverni Sheikh Group, Permira Construction.
  • 1300 N. Calvert Street — Van Allen Homes, Zeskinds Hardware and Millwork.
  • 106-110 N. Eutaw Street — 106-110 Eutaw St. LLC, Charles Balfoure Architect.
  • Lion Brothers Building, 875 Hollins Street — Cross Street Partners, developer; Cho Benn Holback, a Quinn Evans Company, architect; Betty Bird & Associates, historic preservation consultant.
  • Sage Center,1209 N. Rose Street — Episcopal Housing Corporation, owner; Marks, Thomas Architects, architect; Southway Builders, builder.

New Tenant for Erdman Shopping Center

BB&T Bank leased 2,000 square feet at Erdman Shopping Center in Baltimore City from the Erdland Company. Larry Hoffman, Scott Yurow and Geoffrey Mackler with H&R Retail represented the landlord.

The Kibitz Room Coming to Hooks Village in Pikesville

Neil Parish, founder and owner of The Kibitz Room in Margate, N.J., and a native Baltimorean, is opening a “higher level delicatessen space”called The Kitbitz Room in the former Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Company space at Hooks Village, 25 Hooks Lane in Pikesville. The new operation is expected to open in late summer in the mixed-use project owned and managed by David S. Brown Enterprises.

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