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Dismissal of former Cross Street Market tenant’s lawsuit stands

A rendering of Cross Street Market. (Submitted)

A rendering of Cross Street Market. (Submitted)

Maryland’s second highest court upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a former Cross Street Market tenant seeking damages for being displaced.

The Court of Special Appeals, in an unreported opinion, affirmed a Baltimore City Circuit Court ruling rejecting Wireless One Inc.’s claims to be a “displaced person” entitled to “moving and relocation benefits.”

“Appellant concedes in its brief that its ‘case for an unconstitutional taking depends on whether the City wrongfully denied Wireless moving and relocation expenses.’ Having concluded … that the City did not wrongfully deny Wireless moving and relocation expenses, we also conclude that the motion court did not err in ruling that Wireless ‘has failed to state a claim for an unconstitutional taking,'” Judge Timothy E. Meredith wrote in the opinion filed Friday.

Wireless One, a tenant at the market between 2004 and early 2017, moved from the market after being informed it didn’t fit with the vision for the overhauled market.

Caves Valley Partners, and subsidiary CSM Ventures LLC,  signed a management agreement in November 2016 with Baltimore to revamp the Federal Hill public market that dates back to 1847.

After Wireless One’s lease moved to a month-to-month basis, the store’s owners were informed in December of 2016 the store did not fit with the developers plans for the market. The store’s ownership asked to be released from the lease and moved from the market in February 2017.

That June, Wireless One, which had been a tenant at Cross Street Market since 2004, filed a lawsuit against Baltimore and the Public Markets Corp., which oversees operations of most of the city’s public markets. The Baltimore City Circuit Court, following a September hearing, granted a motion to dismiss by the city and markets corporation.

Wireless One appealed the decision and the Court of Special Appeals last week sided with the Baltimore City Circuit Court. That decision came in large part because Baltimore owned the property well before the store leased space. The definition of a “displaced person,” the court found, does not cover a person or business “who leases from the displacing agency after the displacing agency takes title to the real property.”

Caves Valley Partners announced the first tenants in the redesigned food hall last month. The announcement included 10 vendors taking space in the 26 planned stalls in the renovated market. Overhauling the property is  expected to cost about $7 million.

Existing vendors, such as Fenwick’s Choice Meats and Steve’s Lunch, Nunnally Bros. Choice Meats, Smoke and The Sweet Shoppe will all be opening in the overhauled market. Phubs and Sobeachy restaurants are set to open new locations in the shed. Completely new eateries include Burger Bar and Rice Crook are also slated to be tenants. Ceremony Coffee will also be among the new vendors.

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