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Former tenant appeals ruling in Cross Street Market lawsuit

A rendering of Cross Street Market currently undergoing renovations. (Submitted)

A rendering of Cross Street Market currently undergoing renovations. (Caves Valley Partners)

A former Cross Street Market tenant seeking damages for being displaced is now turning to the state’s highest court for relief, according to a petition for certiorari filed Thursday.

In an unreported opinion in November, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed a Baltimore City Circuit Court ruling rejecting Wireless One Inc.’s claims to be a “displaced person” entitled to “moving and relocation benefits.” That opinion was reissued as a reported opinion on Friday at the city’s request.

“We are very, very pleased that the Court of Special Appeals granted our request to publish Judge (Timothy E.) Meredith’s excellent opinion because it will be very useful to the bench and bar going forward,” said City Solicitor Andre Davis on Thursday.

“We will oppose the petition for cert, of course, but it’s not a surprise they are seeking certiorari,” Davis said.

The issue of whether the city engaged in an unconstitutional taking turned on whether the city wrongfully denied Wireless its moving and relocation expenses, the opinion states.

“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 Meredith wrote in the opinion for the intermediate appellate court.

The attorney for Wireless One argued that the ruling has implications for other projects both in Baltimore and throughout Maryland.

“The law in question applies to any project receiving Federal or State funds. The ruling states that in order to claim moving and relocation expenses as a result of a demolition of a publicly owned facility, the tenant must have been a tenant before the unit of government acquired the facility,” said attorney John C. Murphy, a Baltimore solo practitioner, in a statement.

There are about seven pending cases in the Court of Special Appeals and Baltimore City Circuit Court arising from tenants who left Cross Street Market because of the renovation.

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 the developer’s plans for the market. The store’s ownership asked to be released from the lease and moved from the market in February 2017.

The case is Wireless One, Inc. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, Case. No. 1852 September Term, 2017.


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