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Hammerjacks eyes 2018 opening, hosting more than music

Kevin Russell, President and CEO of Hammerjacks Entertainment Group at 1300 Russell Street, the future home of Hammerjacks.  (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

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Ownership of the latest iteration of Hammerjacks expects Baltimore’s newest music venue to be open early next year and that the building will be used for more than just concerts.

The club, which involves a total $14 million investment, is expected to take eight to nine months for complete build-out in south Baltimore. The project involves a mix of demolition, new construction and renovation of properties near the intersection of West Ostend and Russell streets just south of M&T Bank Stadium.

“We feel the location is second to none … So, I think this slight delay of starting with construction has allowed us to further enhance the building. We added some things to it with our architectural team to build a world-class venue,” Kevin Butler, CEO of Hammerjacks Entertainment Group, said.

When the city’s architecture review panel approved the club’s design in February the goal was to open the doors by the fourth quarter of this year.

The project cleared its last major hurdle to becoming a reality last week when the city’s Board of Liquor License Commissioners approved the venue for an arena liquor license.

The city already had issued a permit for the demolition of the building at 1310 Russell St. That structure was once home to club Paradox, which played a major role in Baltimore’s dance music and hip-hop scenes.

The next step in resurrecting Hammerjacks is obtaining a building permit so construction of the 2,500-capacity club can begin once the demolition is complete. Demolition work is slated to begin work on July 1.

In addition to the concert venue, owners of the new Hammerjacks are converting an existing 24,000-square-foot building into an entrance for the club and there will also be a beer garden on site.

Hammerjack’s ownership team believes the project fits in neatly with the city’s goals of transforming that portion of Baltimore into an entertainment district.

Horseshoe Casino Baltimore is just to the south, and to the north M&T Bank Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards draw millions of sports fans a year. Caves Valley Partners’ nearby $250 million mixed-use Stadium Square project also means residents and office workers are within walking distance of Hammerjacks.

“We think we’re going to be a catalyst to other developments on Russell Street and Warner Street toward the casino,”  Butler said.

The venue will also fill a gap in the city’s nightlife, he said, because there’s not a 2,500-capacity space, which is considered the sweet spot for many national acts.

“Baltimore does not have a building of this magnitude. It’s a 2,500-cap concert venue, an outdoor area, two-story club. We’re really creating an entertainment destination that Baltimore hasn’t seen in some time,” Butler said.

The venue, which will be able to shrink down to accommodate 1,000 people, will also be used to host private events.

“We’re going to be hosting a lot of pre-convention parties and corporate events there. In fact we’re already starting to get calls from people trying to book it next year,” Butler said.

The name Hammerjacks is a legendary one in Baltimore dating to the 1970s. During the 1980s the original club reached its zenith as a popular music venue, particularly for heavy metal and hard rock acts in vogue at that time.

The original version of the club, which was beneath an Interstate 95 overpass, was demolished in the late 1990s by the Maryland Stadium Authority to make room for parking at the football stadium.

In 2000, another club calling itself Hammerjacks opened in a building on Guilford Avenue downtown. But that venue failed to catch on like the original and closed in 2006.


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