Sunday, July 6, 2014

Progress on Development Projects Along my Running Route

A run around the harbor and waterfront neighborhoods always yields exciting progress reports on development projects.  I originally showcased 400 E. Pratt Street several months ago here.  The installation of the glass helps to give a much better sense of how this two story addition will make this block of Pratt Street much more interesting and attractive.  Of course, with Shake Shack planning to occupy part of the first floor, the 400 block of E. Pratt Street promises to become one of the hottest destinations in town!

Farther east, in the midst of Harbor East, Little Italy, and Fells Point, the 208-room Harbor East Hyatt Place, which I first mentioned in this post, is expected to welcome its first guests in fall 2014.  Guests will have easy access to the shops, restaurants, and nightlife of these three very different neighborhoods, as well as the attractions of the waterfront and Inner Harbor.  Baltimore's free Charm City Circulator now makes it easy for visitors to explore neighborhoods and hot spots far beyond the immediate vicinity of the hotel, such as Mount Vernon, Station North, Federal Hill, Fort McHenry, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards. 

The Marketplace at Fells Point, originally highlighted here, shows off its new/old storefronts.   This photo depicts the west side of Broadway; the east side has progressed even more quickly, with Unleased by Petco opening on July 7.  The Marketplace at Fells Point offers 159 studio, one and two bedroom apartments, some of which are available for immediate occupancy, and 28,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space in the heart of Fell's Point, one of Baltimore's most historic, eclectic, and lively communities.  Residents will have access to amenities such as a rooftop deck, courtyard with fire pit, and fitness center in the restored "Fell's Point Comfort Station," and they will receive ZipCar discounts.  The developer clearly knows the market, as more and more people who live in the city want a car-free or at least car-lite life!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

More Delicious Dining Options

Blue Agave stands out among the crowded Federal Hill bar and restaurant scene for its house-made salsas and sauces, not to mention margaritas and Baltimore's largest selection of tequila.  I highly recommend their chipotle chicken skewers!  Always lively, Blue Agave is a great spot for dinner with friends, lunch with your favorite colleagues, or happy hour.

Located on Broadway in the heart of Fell's Point, Tapas Adela features Spanish cuisine.  The mouth-watering menu includes well-known Spanish tapas, from patatas bravas to croquetas, as well as Baltimore twists on the classics, such as crab cake rellenos, in which the chef fills Padron peppers with jumbo lump crab.

Sophisticated yet friendly, Mount Vernon's City Cafe appeals to a wide range of diners, from the neighborhood crowd to symphony patrons, coffee fanatics to cocktail connoisseurs.  Baltimore Magazine recently lauded City Cafe as one of the area's top 50 restaurants and a top brunch spot.  If you go, try the Moroccan chicken salad.  Delicious!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Baltimore Bike Party Prom Night

What's more fun than a real prom?  This month's prom-themed Baltimore Bike Party!  On the last Friday of every month, Bike Partiers get together for a leisurely and lighthearted group ride through the city, which often sports a theme.  I first encountered the Baltimore Bike Party last October, when I came across hundreds of bicyclists decked out in Halloween costumes, complete with plastic pumpkins for candy collecting. 
The Baltimore Bike Party always sets off from St. Mary's Park in the Seton Hill neighborhood, but the routes differ each month.  With hundreds of participants including families with kids, the ride is an increasingly popular social event, as well as an eye-opener for people who think that there aren't many cyclists in Baltimore.
More prom dresses!
If you look closely, you will see that the guy on the left donned a tuxedo vest for the occasion. 
The tiny and usually quiet neighborhood of Seton Hill, ensconced near the University of Maryland, Baltimore, experiences a big uptick in activity on the last Friday of the month, thanks to the bicyclists.
The Baltimore Bike Party is doing a great job of raising the biking community's visibility in Baltimore.
Good night from Seton Hill!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Kinetic Sculpture Race and the SoBo Little League Parade Make for a Fun Saturday


Fifi, the undisputed belle of Baltimore's Kinetic Sculpture race, makes her way down Fort Avenue in South Baltimore during the first leg of the day long affair.  The American Visionary Art Museum sponsors the kinetic sculpture race, now in its 16th year.  For anyone wondering, a kinetic sculpture race is a contest of human-powered, amphibious all-terrain works of art (thank you, Wikipedia).  In Baltimore, it is a rite of spring, an excuse to hang out on the stoop all day and engage in great people watching, and an affirmation that Baltimore's creativity, ingenuity, and lovable wacky side are all alive and well.
Channeling Amelia and Muriel Earhart, these pilots look fresh and energized.  Clearly they haven't traversed the mud pits of Patterson Park or splashed down at the Canton Waterfront Park yet.
This team makes it look too easy.

The race starts at the American Visionary Art Museum and swings through South Baltimore and downtown before making its way into Canton and Patterson Park.  I missed the Splashdown in Canton, but I did make it to Patterson Park in time to see Swan Song pose for a beauty shot.
Good Dog and the Big Itchy Flea Circus should feel right at home in beautiful, pet-friendly Patterson Park.
Thankfully, it isn't every day we see a 35' long crocodile in the park. 
Back in my neighborhood, the SoBo Little League Parade always follows shortly after the Kinetic Sculpture Race.  This means great marching bands ...

... and proud youngsters walking down the street with parents and teammates to the field.  Such a nice place to live.
Good bye from Patterson Park!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Construction Update on Projects in Locust Point, Harbor East, and Inner Harbor



Crews are putting the finishing touches on Locust Point's Riverside Wharf, which includes Walgreens, Medstar Prompt Care, and two stories of medical offices.  The handsome building takes its architectural cues from Baltimore's brick industrial buildings, and a portion of the building (not pictured) curves around the corner of Key Highway and Lawrence Street, making the most of the high profile site.

Harbor East Hyatt Place will bring 208 hotel rooms and 13,260 square feet of retail and restaurant space to one of the hottest locations in town: the confluence of Fell's Point, Harbor East, and Little Italy.  The developer has already announced two tenants, Nando's Peri Peri and Cava Mezze, which will serve Portuguese and Greek-influenced cuisine, respectively. 
To the delight of many, the owners of 400 E. Pratt Street recently announced that Shake Shack committed to opening its first Baltimore location on the ground floor of the two story addition currently under construction.  The much-anticipated addition will help to create a more seamless flow of retail and restaurants along Pratt Street, as the building sits between the Gallery at Harborplace and 600 E. Pratt, home to Marshalls and Fogo de Chao, among other crowd pleasers.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Guilford in Bloom




I visited north Baltimore's Guilford neighborhood today, intent on photographing the famous tulip beds at Sherwood Gardens, where 80,000 tulips bloom annually.  Alas, the tulips have yet to bloom, but this flowerbed brought a big smile to my face, as did the pint-sized bench with animal motif.  I am only posting one photograph of the park, because I hope to return soon to take photos of it in its full glory.  Stay tuned!

 
I may not have found tulips, but I discovered a lot of beautiful homes in the neighborhood, which was developed in the early 20th Century and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  I have a thing for glassed-in sun porches, a feature of many Guilford homes.  This home has four!
Most of the homes are constructed of brick or stone, and mature trees shade most of the lawns. 
This home stands out due to its brightly painted facade.
Though single family detached homes are the norm, Guilford also offers town homes, such as the beauties featured here.  Great condominium buildings exist in the immediate vicinity of Guilford as well.
Since I have never spent any time in Guilford, I did not know what to expect.  I found a quiet, peaceful neighborhood, but I also saw a lot of people out and about enjoying the beautiful afternoon, walking, bicycling, picnicking and looking for Easter eggs in the park, and working in their yards. 
The famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted oversaw the planning of the neighborhood, which explains the obvious respect for topography in its layout and the community's lovely public parks.  For those of you who grew up in the 1980s and watched a lot of John Hughes films, doesn't this look like one of his sets?
Guilford's quiet streets make it ideal for bicyclists traveling to nearby Johns Hopkins University, Loyola University Maryland, Notre Dame University of Maryland, and nearby commercial amenities, as well as ....
... downtown Baltimore.  Despite Guilford's bucolic setting, it is actually within walking and bicycling distance of great amenities, from the Baltimore Museum of Art to the 32nd Street Farmers Market, not to mention downtown.  Careful, though, the ride home from downtown is uphill!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Captain Larry's: A Family-Friendly Pub

Thanks to Captain Larry's, many lucky South Baltimore children will have unique memories of New Year's Eve.  Captain Larry's rings in the new year with an indoor ball drop, family-friendly menu and lots of fun nonalcoholic beverages for the kids.  The event has proven so popular that the captain has to take reservations and drop the silvery glittery globe twice.  Parents love this event, because they get to celebrate with their friends and kids - down the street from home.  After the second family-friendly seating, Captain Larry's opens for regular New Year's Eve business.  After all, it is a pub!
I took these photos during another big event at Captain Larry's - the annual chili cook off.  This year the chili cook off benefited Jake's Law and the place was PACKED.  Captain Larry's owners are very community-oriented, and it shows in the events they sponsor and their loyal following.  As far as the food is concerned: try the fish tacos, considered by many to be the best in Baltimore, and the turkey club, made from fresh-roasted turkey and garnished with avocado.  Tasty!   

This painter set up her studio across the street in order to paint Captain Larry's, a sure sign of its popularity and status as a Baltimore institution.    I should mention that Hilltop is a fine carry out!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Belvedere Square: Dining and Shopping Destination Extraordinaire

North Baltimore's Belvedere Square boasts a dynamic mix of shopping and restaurants.  It's market building hosts a carefully curated mix of delicious food, which patrons can enjoy on-site or take home.  Within this 5,000 square foot emporium, one can dine on nourishing soup and a salad made of the freshest ingredients, treat the kids to homemade ice cream or vegan chocolate, rejuvenate with hand squeezed blood orange juice, and pick up smoked seafood or meats for tonight's dinner.  This is just a sample of what the market has to offer, and I highly recommend checking their website for a complete directory.
A pleasant atmosphere encourages patrons to linger and enjoy the company of others.  Dogs are welcome, too (outside).
In response to demand for more seating, the owners of Belvedere Square reconfigured space inside and expanded the outdoor seating area to accommodate more tables and these large umbrellas, which patrons will enjoy especially during hot summer days.
One of the larger stores in Belvedere Square, Ceriello's offers Italian delicacies, prepared foods, and staples including their own sauces, marinades, and dressings.  Patrons can sit right down in the store to enjoy the fare.
The neighborhoods surrounding Belvedere Square attract many families with young children, so the owners wisely provide pint-sized seating options.
While Belvedere Square is very well known for its great restaurants, gourmet food businesses, and its popular summer outdoor concert series, Belvedere Square also offers a nice mix of stores.  In addition to Techlab, pictured here, Belvedere Square includes a shoe "salon", home furnishings shops, and a unique florist.
Located across the street from Belvedere Square, the recently restored c. 1939 Senator Theatre offers residents and visitors the opportunity to see a movie in one of the grand movie palaces of the past (upgraded with today's comfort and sound standards in mind).  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Senator is a perfect complement to the shops and restaurants of Belvedere Square.  It attracts patrons anxious to see the latest blockbuster as well sophisticated movie-goers interested in Oscar-worthy pictures.  On many a Saturday morning, the Senator features beloved children's movies from yesteryear, from National Velvet to the Princess Bride, and the Senator also streams performances live from the Metropolitan Opera. 
One of a number of restaurants at the Square, Sofi's Crepes just blew out the candles on its 10th birthday.  This photo shows the exterior of Sofi's Crepes, which is located around the corner from the main market and across the street from the Senator, during the holidays.  I highly recommend the Nutella crepe, and I will leave on that note to go dream about crepes!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Rotunda Redevelopment in Hampden


Built in the 1920s, the Rotunda has long housed offices, small shops, a grocery store, and a movie theater.  However, given its underused parking lots and location in trendy Hampden, the Rotunda clearly has potential to bring even more energy to the community in terms of new residents and a greater mix of stores.
Enter Hekemian & Company, the developer renovating and retrofitting the existing structure and transforming the surface parking lots into 150,000 square feet of new retail space, 382 apartments, and a parking garage.  MOM's Organic Market leads the roster of new tenants, to the delight of many devotees of this environmentally-friendly grocery store.
Residents in this block of colorful row homes will soon have new stores to walk to in their neighborhood, in addition to the appealing mix of independently-owned shops and restaurant already thriving on the Avenue located just several blocks south.

Another shot of the construction shows the original building in the background Hekemian expects to finish the work in summer 2015.
The artsy/environmentalist vibe of Hampden extends far beyond its epicenter on The Avenue to these homes closer to the Rotunda, where residents paint their homes in a rainbow of colors and ride their bikes on even the coldest, iciest days.  This major new investment in Hampden confirms what many have known all along: the artists, environmentalists, and small business owners (and others - I certainly don't intend to exclude anyone who has had a hand in the transformation of Hampden) have created a very desirable place to live.