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Developer ditches Cross Street Market overhaul

The Cross Street Market in Federal Hill. (The Daily Record file photo)

The Cross Street Market in Federal Hill. (The Daily Record file photo)

Caves Valley Partners has nixed plans for the redevelopment of Cross Street Market and is walking away from the deal.

The developer’s decision was announced by the Baltimore Public Market Corp., which oversees Baltimore’s public markets, on Wednesday.

“While there is substantial consensus on the need for renovation, there is a divergence of opinions on the future vision of the market. Today, at the request of Caves Valley, BPMC agreed to mutually terminate its agreement with Caves. The termination is effective March 1, 2017, which will give BPMC time to reassign employees back to the market,” according to a statement from the corporation.

“In light of today’s announcement, BPMC will need time to regroup and consider next steps for developing an action plan that will have the best interests of both the community and merchants in mind.”

The project had become increasingly unpopular with some of the market’s tenants, who said the developer was treating them unfairly.

Caves Valley Partners had worked with the city dating to 2015 on a deal to redevelop the public market in Federal Hill. Initially Caves Valley Partners was working with Scott Plank’s War Horse LLC before that firm moved on from the deal.

But despite complicated issues regarding financing, and responsibility for deferred maintenance on the 64-year-building, the city and developer, operating at CSM Ventures LLC, struck a deal in November.

Under that agreement the developer proposed transforming the market during a two-year period. Caves Valley would contribute $4.5 million in capital and the city would chip in $2 million.

The term of the agreement with the developer lasted for 15 years with seven renewal options for five years. Caves Valley Partners would pay the market corporation $10,000 a month as a priority payment and share profits 50-50 after its bank debt was paid.

Kirby Fowler, chairman of Baltimore Public Markets Corp., hailed the agreement as a model for updating the city’s other five public markets.

“In other cases it may be time for the private sector to step in and move our markets into the 21st century,” Fowler said at the time

But the project promptly ran into problems as tenants in the building were unhappy with the project’s timeline that called for displacing some businesses. The firm created even more controversy when, after taking over management of the market at the end of January, it terminated the lease of Nick’s Seafood due to “material violations,” such as 135 violations of food safety requirements, according to the developer.

Arsh Mirmiran, a partner at Caves Valley Partners who spearheaded the Cross Street Market, declined to comment for this story.

Mayor Catherine Pugh, in an emailed statement, touted the importance of the city’s public markets. She also expressed confidence redevelopment of the market will happen.

“Baltimore’s public markets are important to celebrating our past, and play a critical role in Baltimore’s future. The Baltimore Public Markets Corporation is reviewing its options and will re-engage the community to fulfill the vision for Cross Street Market. Public-private collaborations will be key, and I want to see Cross Street Market become what the community wants and certainly deserves,” Pugh said in her statement.

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