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Caves Valley Partners pitches Cross Street Market roof deck

Caves Valley Partners proposes adding a rooftop deck to Cross Street Market to provide seating for the Watershed seafood restaurant.

Caves Valley Partners proposes adding a rooftop deck to Cross Street Market to provide roof deck seating for the Watershed seafood restaurant. (Atlas Restaurant Group)

Adding a restaurant and a proposed rooftop deck to Cross Street Market fits with the goal of upping the food game in the bar-heavy Baltimore neighborhood, Arsh Mirmiran of Caves Valley Partners said.

Mirmiran and BCT Architects Principal Chris Holler presented plans to the city’s design advisory panel Thursday for adding the restaurant and a rooftop deck for the Atlas Restaurant Group project. Construction is set to begin in February and the building to be delivered in time for the restaurant, called the Watershed, to have a late-summer opening.

“Our belief is what we’ve done with the market, and what Atlas group will do with this Watershed concept, is that we can elevate the dining scene in Federal Hill and create something along the lines of what’s been done in Hampden or in Fells Point, and even to some extent in Canton. It has really lagged in Federal Hill, where it’s been very, very bar-centric, bar heavy,” Mirmiran said. “The hope is that this will sort of elevate the overall dining scene both at the market, and around the market.”

The market is currently nearly completely leased, with tenants already operating or lined up for 22 of the 24 stalls. Mirmiran said the developer is discussing a lease for one of the two open slots.

Current tenants in the market include Old Line Cocktail and Wine Bar, Pizza Di Joey, and Rooster + Hen, billed as the “market within the market.”

Adding the deck to the market is necessary, BCT Principal Chris Holler told panelists, in order to make the deal work financially for Atlas Restaurant Group.

Atlas’ investment in Cross Street involves the Atlas Fish Market and the anchor Watershed seafood restaurant in the Charles Street end cap extending up to the roof deck. The restaurant will include 292 seats, and the roof deck is expected to remain open for about seven to eight months a year.

Atlas previously opened a fish and crab house, called the Choptank, at another of the city’s public market buildings, the Broadway Market in Fells Point. The group, owned by brothers Alex and Eric Smith, operates 20 restaurants in four markets. In Baltimore the group’s properties include The Italian Disco, The Bygone and Ouzo Bay.

Mirmiran said he always envisioned adding a rooftop element to the transformed Cross Street Market. Originally, he said, the thought was to add a greenhouse to grow produce on site. That idea, however, turned out to be unfeasible.

Currently, the proposed roof deck is going through what Mirmiran called a modified design review process involving one appearance before the panel. BCT Architects will now alter the design based on comments from panelists and continue to refine the design with the Department of Planning prior to the tenant pulling permits to start construction.

Panelists expressed enthusiasm for the project’s potential. Pavlina Ilieva, chairwoman of the Urban Design and Architectural Advisory Panel, remarked about the scarcity of rooftop amenities in the city.

“We don’t have enough of these in the city,” said Ilieva, whose architecture firm handled the redesign of Broadway Market.

She then criticized the design because it focused more on functionality instead of trying to “elevate” the market building.

“There’s got to be something more than, ‘It looks better than the other (options),’” she said.

Work on the building, Holler said, involves flattening the floor and rebuilding the roof where the deck will be installed with new footings and structural steel.

The developers are putting some tenant improvement dollars into the work, Mirmiran said, adding that Atlas is “investing the bulk of the money.”

Caves Valley’s efforts to complete the roughly $7 million overhaul of Cross Street Market stretches back nearly five years. The developer started working with Baltimore in 2015 on plans to overhaul the popular but fading market.

Eventually, Caves Valley and partner CANAdev, operating as CSM Ventures LLC, hammered out the details regarding financing and deferred maintenance and struck a deal with the city in November 2016.

That pact, however, was nearly scuttled when some market tenants objected to the redevelopment schedule. Mirmiran, in early 2017, informed the Baltimore Public Markets Corp., which oversees operations of most the city’s public markets, his company was walking away from the deal.

That turned out to be short-lived, and by March both sides arrived at a compromise and eventually started overhauling the market.


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