|Nick's Oyster Bar during a fundraiser fro Council President Young in 2013|
|Early concepts (2015, BCT)|
|Caves Valley - War-Horse original proposal: Green roof|
Rendering: Brown Craig and Turner Architects
Caves Valley teamed up with Scott Plank's War Horse Development and suggested to the City that they could fix the market in a private public partnership in which the private side fixes the market up, operates it and the City maintains ownership and collects rent and a share of whatever profits. The City, facing problems with its markets on many fronts, welcomed the overture with open arms. Struever, never one to give up easily, had since opened a new business under the name Cross Street Partners was part of the deal as well, as a manager of the completed the Market. That was in 2014 and 2015, but then nothing happened for a long time until in April 2016 it became known that Scott Plank's War Horse and Struever had dropped out of the team. Mirmiran told me it was a friendly parting and that War Horse couldn't see a way to make any money with that Market. Meanwhile, War Horse was developing a food hall in San Francisco's Tenderloin District and was mentioned by Baltimore's Market chief Robert Thomas as a potential partner for another Baltimore market P3. Struever is involved with the conversion of several old industrial buildings in East and West Baltimore such as the Hoehn Lithograph building and the Lion Brothers building.
Finally, in November of last year, a new, smaller $6.5 million Cross Street proposal became the accepted deal between City and Caves Valley for which the developer received the "exclusive negotiation rights". The proposal includes $2 million public funds for improvements, 50/50 profit sharing (after developers cost and fees) and a lease in which the developer pays rent to the City.
|Caves Valley proposal 2016: "Baltimore's Ferry Terminal Market" (Mirmiran)|
The future of the Cross Street Market should be of interest to all who care about Baltimore's public markets, whether they are in East Baltimore, Fells Point, on Hollins Street, on Pennsylvania Avenue or it is the flagship market on Eutaw Street itself. All of the them, except the Eastern Market that was recently renovated, seem to be in some type of limbo. With food halls and private markets such as Belvedere Market and Mount Vernon Market all the rage in Baltimore, and across America, one should think that Cross Street Market which is located in an affluent part of town, shouldn't be so hard to figure out. Along those lines, Caves Valley hired Cana Development to configure spaces and market the project, the same company that also did this for the Mt Vernon Market.
According to the BBJ, during the renovation merchants are given the option to relocate to another City market or to nearby City owned properties, not a comforting prospect for some who have large equipment in the current market.
Some speculate that the powers on the Cross Street Market Advisory Board may steer the Market into a direction that may not be in the interest of the neighborhood and wonder aloud why merchants aren't included on that Board and are, instead, left guessing what will happen next. Recently re-elected councilman Eric Costello said in a Facebook discussion about the Market and who is on the Board: "Horseshoe Casino and Downtown Partnership as well as the Waterfront Partnership and Visit Baltimore (the City’s quasi-governmental tourism agency) are represented as well, along with the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance and Senior Class President at Digital Harbor High School. I asked Baltimore Public Markets Corporation to include the first four because I believe they have constituencies that could contribute to the neighborhood economy."
As is often the case in Baltimore, it is hard to untangle the twisted web. Nicks Fishhouse in Port Covington and Nicks Oyster Bar were once in the hands of the same person. Since then, though, the Port Covington restaurant has changed hands: One of the new partners: Demien Costa of Kevin Plank's Sagamore Development.
One can hope that the future of the 170 year old Market doesn't hang on some kind of urban fad that lasts only a few years but that the Market remains a vital "commons" of South Baltimore that serves all segments of the population and keeps the authenticity that Nick's presented so well.
Klaus Philipsen, FAIA
The SUN about the agreement between City and Caves Valley
BBJ about the agreement for the Cross Street Market
The SUN about ownership change at Nick's Fish House
BBJ with details of the agreement: