[Chat] Fw: [NNEHousing_BaltimoreCity] NEWS: Revival of shops brings hope

Brad Schlegel william.schlegel at us.army.mil
Mon Jul 5 11:39:21 EDT 2004

  News from Fred's neighborhood!  I can vouch for the place, as well.  Lots
of interesting shops, plus sources for some items that are also sold at the
Waverly Farmer's market; South Mountain Dairy products at Atwater's and
Neopol smoked meats and fish.  Here is the website for the Square:


Revival of shops brings hope
Belvedere Square turning from desolate to hot spot; 'Better now
than ... its heyday'; Space was virtually empty for years before

By Scott Waldman
Sun Staff

July 5, 2004

Belvedere Square, the North Baltimore shopping center that was once
a retail ghost town, is in the midst of a renaissance that has local
merchants and customers convinced there's no going back to the bad
old days.

"I intend to be a regular," said Marcia Moylan, a Guilford resident
who said she makes weekly visits to Belvedere Square.

Moylan, an antiques dealer, was part of the midday crowd shopping
and having lunch at the center where major renovations are almost

Last week, the area was buzzing with the sounds of saws and the
pounding of hammers as construction crews worked to open a furniture
store and an upscale restaurant.

The 100,000-square-foot shopping center in the 5900 block of York
Road has more than 20 shops and restaurants. On Friday nights, live
music fills the air. And the newest businesses, the Nouveau
Contemporary Goods furniture store and Taste restaurant, are
expected to open in the fall.

The shopping center's vibrancy is even more impressive considering
its history. Opening in 1986 with great fanfare, Belvedere Square
drew residents and students from six area universities. But in the
mid-1990s, the shopping center went into a tailspin.

In 2000, as the climate worsened, merchants and neighbors blamed the
shopping center's landlord. Mayor Martin O'Malley called
management "abysmal." In turn, a management official blamed the
flight to suburban stores, security costs and the previous
administration of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, among other conditions.

By September 2002, less than one-third of the shopping center was
leased. The square was sold that year.

Business owners said the revitalization began slowly last year with
the opening of the Belvedere Square Market, a new food market. The
free Friday night summer concert series has also brought back

The square's revitalization has been a cooperative effort among four
prominent names in local development: Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse
Inc., William Jackson Ewing Inc., Hawkins Development Group and
Manekin LLC.

The partnership has invested about $20 million in Belvedere Square,
said John Pezzulla, director of property management for Struever
Bros. Eccles & Rouse. The city and state have contributed about $4
million, he said.

"The community has been tremendously supportive," Pezzulla said.

Like many of the business owners at Belvedere Square, Melissa Taylor
lives nearby. When Taylor opened her stationery store, Simply Noted,
last July, she ignored people who said the shopping center wouldn't
return to its former glory. Now, business is booming, and her
neighbors are excited that it's making a comeback, she said.

"When you go into the stores, you're meeting the owners and people
who want this to succeed as much as anyone else," Taylor said.

Jim Miller, a teacher who lives near Belvedere Square, sat at one of
the tables outside the market Tuesday afternoon tutoring a student.

When the stores were empty a few years ago, he rarely stopped by, he
said. Now, he said, he visits four or five times a week and does the
majority of his shopping at Belvedere Square.

One of the draws is "knowing people we buy our vegetables from," he

The "neighborhood feel" of the area attracted restaurateur Ann Nault
to Belvedere Square. After $2 million in renovations to the former
Hess shoe store are completed, Nault will open Taste in mid-
September. The restaurant will serve California-style cuisine in a
setting that incorporates nostalgic elements of the former shoe
store - such as the old children's slide.

Donal Doyle, co-owner of an Irish pub that has had a million-dollar
renovation, is confident that the area will increase in popularity.
The pub, Ryan's Daughter http://www.ryansdaughteririshpub.com/ ,
occupies a building that once housed a Chili's restaurant, which
closed during the shopping center's slump. Ryan's Daughter is
decorated with antique Jameson's whiskey bottles and parts of a 200-
year-old Dublin pub - all meant to convey the sense of a community
meeting place.

"Down the road, they'll say how smart we were in getting this
building," Doyle said.

The revitalized Belvedere Square has also helped to make the
surrounding households feel more like a community, said Catherine
Evans, president of the Belvedere Improvement Association.

"If you cut our community out of Baltimore and put it in the middle
of a field, you'd have a village," Evans said.

Evans, who has been the association's president for nine years,
described the rejuvenation of the area as a "victory." She said it
has become a place frequented not only by locals but by people from
other neighborhoods and outside the city.

Greg Novik - owner of Greg's Bagels, a store that stayed open
through the lean times - agreed, and said some of his customers live
in Mount Washington and Pikesville. He is not only happy about his
business getting better but he has become a fan of new shops, such
as Grand Cru wine and beer store.

"The center," Novik said, "is better now than it was in its heyday."


Copyright © 2004, The Baltimore Sun

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