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Liquor license granted for new restaurant near Hopkins Hospital

Owners of a proposed new restaurant for the 88-acre East Baltimore Development Inc. redevelopment were granted a liquor license Thursday at City Hall.

Ernst Valery and Mondel L. Powell will be allowed to sell beer, wine and liquor at what is being tentatively called Teavolve 2, the city’s Board of Liquor License Commissioners voted during a brief hearing. The restaurant will be an informal restaurant and bar scheduled to open at 855 N. Wolfe St. in late summer or early fall, said Powell, who co-owns another restaurant called Teavolve in Harbor East.

The 125-seat business will be the first “upscale” restaurant in the entire 13th District, said City Councilman Warren Branch, who attended the board hearing and testified for the license application.

“It will be wonderful for the district,” he told the three commissioners.
Councilman Carl Stokes, of the 12th District, also attended the hearing. He said the new restaurant that will serve casual, healthy fare and feature live entertainment at the EBDI site will be a “showpiece” in the area.

The restaurant venture will cost $899,000, Powell said. It will be the first eatery in the controversial EBDI development, which began a decade ago with an aim to relocate 732 households in order to make way for a private biotech park linked to Johns Hopkins Hospital. Those plans stalled after the households were relocated, even as more than $564 million, $212.6 million in public funds, had been spent.

So far, only one life sciences building exists — the John G. Rangos Sr. Building at 855 N. Wolfe St. The building has been open since 2008 and is not fully leased.

The new bar and restaurant will be located on the ground floor of that building, at Ashland Avenue and Wolfe Street. Outdoor seating will be offered, Powell said, and the restaurant will open at 8 a.m. and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Another store may be opening at the Rangos building, too.

A sign in another window there touts a 7-Eleven convenience store is expected to open in the coming months.

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A report released this week showed that demand for office space in the Baltimore metropolitan area market was down in the initial quarter of 2012 when compared to the fourth quarter of 2011.

Despite that, the report by Cassidy Turley said that the most active portion of the metro area was downtown Baltimore with more than 100,000 square feet of leasing between Class A and Class B space. Cited were companies Algeco Scotsman and JMI Equity, which moved to downtown digs from suburbia.

The report predicted the city’s downtown hub is expected to grow with the new development of the Exelon building in Harbor Point, even though the vacancy rate downtown was listed at 22.7 percent.

Cassidy Turley’s report also showed the city’s office market absorbed 12,267 square feet in the first quarter, an overall dip in the demand rate compared to the fourth quarter of 2011 when the market absorbed 110,282 square feet.

The I-83 corridor continued to draw leasing in the first quarter as 22,000 square feet of space was leased by M&T Bank at 1966 Greenspring Drive and 15,000 square feet by Lafarge at 1954 Greenspring Drive. Another lease of 22,000 square feet by GSA at 849 Fairmount Ave. in Towson was also cited.

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Wednesday night, Towson University reversed roles and rolled out the red carpet for its new partner, Marriott International.

The glittering Towson University Marriott Conference Hotel on Burke Avenue near York Road was hailed as the latest step in the suburban university’s rejuvenation of its campus. All 192 rooms are large suites with kitchens, living and dining rooms and luxury bathrooms and bedrooms.

The development was once a privately owned high-rise retirement community that was sold to the university in 1992, so the conversion to hotel space centered on making do with those large spaces, said Joe Oster, an associate vice president at Towson University.

At one point, the university turned some of the space into dormitory rooms, Oster said, but that led to, well, the place looking much like a dorm.

The new conference center is modeled on a Marriott brand that welds hotel and conference space on or near college campuses. Other centers are located at Georgetown University and the University of Maryland, College Park.

Towson University paid for the renovations, which cost about $20 million, Oster said. Marriott manages the property.

Bookings are starting to flow, he added.

Parents and educators are booking the suites up to 364 days in advance of graduation, homecoming and move-in weekends, he said, and other programs are also being booked in the center’s more than 14,000 square feet of meeting space that includes 19 rooms.

The hotel offers free parking and access to a 24-hour fitness center and four golf courses within 10 miles of the property.

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Later this month, the Baltimore County office of Jewish Community Services will move to larger digs in the new wing of the Rosenbloom Owings Mills Jewish Community Center.

JCS Executive Director Barbara Levy Gradet said the move will allow expanded services.

“Our expanded space enables JCS to offer its complete array of human services in a convenient and comfortable location,” she said, in a statement.

At the new site, JCS will offer counseling for adults, children and families as well as career services and senior citizen assistance. The expansion was funded from private sources and a state bond bill.

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A Fair Housing Month conference will be held April 18 beginning at 10 a.m. at the Sollers Point Multipurpose Center, 325 Sollers Point Road, in Dundalk.

The free event is sponsored by the Baltimore County Human Relations Commission and will focus on fair housing rights, community revitalization and affordability and access for individuals with disabilities.  Two panels with experts on fair housing issues arena will speak.

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Last month, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed in an unpublished opinion that the former owner of the Parkway Theatre, A&E North, was not entitled to relocation expenses before the city condemned the property.

The historic theater in the city’s Station North Arts and Entertainment District is called the “Rodney Dangerfield of Baltimore theatres” on its website. It was built in 1915 as a vaudeville stage with 1,100 seats.

City officials are seeking to redevelop the space into a renewed arts venue, but the process is lumbering along.

The court case is the latest in the theater’s own drama.

The opinion said, in part: “This case arises out of an eminent domain proceeding initiated in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City by the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore (the “City”) relative to a parcel of real property (the “Property”) owned by A&E North, LLC (“North”). The property is improved by the former “Parkway Theatre” building, an historically and architecturally significant structure. At the time this proceeding began, North stored a significant amount of personal property in the theatre. Prior to trial, North requested the circuit court to postpone the scheduled trial date and to order the City to pay North’s expenses to move the personal property from the theatre to another location. The circuit court denied both requests.

“We perceive no reversible error in the conduct of the circuit court; therefore, we will affirm the judgment.”

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Get ready to gussy up in Harbor East.

This week, landlords there announced the addition of trendy national stores J. Crew, Anthrpologie, Lululemon Athletica and MAC Cosmetics to the city’s gold coast. The shops are expected to open this summer in more than 20,000 total square feet of retail space.

Anthropologie will open in the new Four Seasons Hotel and J. Crew in the Legg Mason Tower. Lululemon will locate on Aliceanna Street, while MAC Cosmetics will open in a former shoe store near Whole Foods, also on Aliceanna.