After receiving two design concepts to redevelop Cross Street market in Federal Hill, the Baltimore Public Markets Corp.’s review committee has narrowed its focus to one from Caves Valley Partners and War Horse LLC.
Thursday was the deadline for responses to the request for proposal, released in January, and the review panel hopes to have its first session on the proposal by the end of the month.
“We only received one full-blown proposal and that came from Caves Valley Partners/ War Horse LLC. That’s the only one the review committee will be giving its attention to,” said Robert Thomas, executive director of the Baltimore Public Markets Corp.
Caves Valley Partners has developed several notable projects in the area and is currently in the process of planning the $250 million mixed-use Stadium Square in the nearby Sharp-Leadenhall neighborhood. Scott Plank, brother of Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, is a principal at War Horse LLC.
Arsh Mirmiran, a partner at Caves Valley Partners, said he could confirm the firm has submitted a proposal, but wasn’t at liberty to discuss the details regarding any possible redevelopment of the market.
“We’ve been asked not to speak about the proposal or the process until we’re given further direction as far as that next step from the markets corporation an or the city,” Mirmiran said.
Following the design review committee’s meetings, it will determine what additional reviews, which may involve the community, will be required for the process to move forward. Members of the Baltimore Development Corp. and Baltimore’s law department are also expected to be involved in reviewing the preliminary proposal.
The current market is 29,803 square feet and was built in 1952. However, there have been market buildings in that area of the city dating back to 1845, according to the Baltimore Public Markets Corp.’s website.
In January the market corporation released a request for proposal “to promote the development of this property in a fashion that will achieve City objectives of creating an open marketplace experience, growing the local economy, strengthening communities, making necessary capital and aesthetic improvements, supporting a diversity of vendors, and improving affordable nutrition options for City residents. …”
Thomas stopped short of calling the proposal a major overhaul, but he called it significant and said there will be changes in the way the market operates. The goal is to make the operation of the market, which now has five or six empty vendor stalls, more responsive and efficient. He said redevelopment plans will involve some brick-and -mortar improvements to help with presentation and customer experience at the market.
The market, which is often a bustling gathering place, particularly before sporting events at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, is having some of the same issues as the city’s other public markets. Thomas said the vacant stalls at the market are at a historic high.
“It’s a strong market … but there are pieces of it that really can be improved. Partly in the fiscal plan but also we’re looking at the vendor, merchant configurations,” Thomas said. “Some of those are fine and some could use a little juicing up.”
Thomas said he wasn’t sure what the reaction would be from Baltimore Public Markets Corp.’s board to the proposal, but that he’s hopeful the board will like what’s being put forward.
“Hope springs eternal, because if they aren’t [happy] it would require a redo and a restart. But, this is what I’m anticipating; that the good parts of the plan will be tweaked and whatever is a point of contention will be negotiated,” Thomas said. “That’s how we get to a happy place.”