When Towson-based developer Caves Valley Partners (CVP) reached a deal to redesign the landmark Cross Street Market in Federal Hill earlier this year, locals were hopeful that the dilapidated space would soon be transformed into a more lively destination for neighbors and visitors alike. But after disagreements over liquor licenses and intense controversy surrounding the displacement of the market’s merchants, the project is back to square one.
It was announced today that CVP, the only company to express interest in the redevelopment
, has decided to terminate its partnership with Cross Street Market. The firm’s financial involvement was critical to the multi-million dollar redesign, which was slated to feature expanded stalls, outdoor seating, and a more modern look with glass windows and an excess of natural lighting. A range of new vendors, including those selling chicken, pizza, ice cream, donuts, and breakfast fare, had already submitted letters of intent to lease space in the market.
"It has become evident to us that perhaps we misread the desire and the will to fully transform the market and that the vision we created was not one that was shared by as many as we hoped or believed," CVP developer Arsh Mirmiran told The Sun. "We will be keenly interested to see the refined vision for the revitalization of the market, as dictated by the merchants and the surrounding communities, as well as how and when it can receive the attention it desperately needs.”
According to reports by SouthBMore.com, the main deal-breaker that lead to the dissolution of the partnership was the continuing struggle to establish a market-wide liquor license. A bill recently drafted by the Maryland General Assembly—which was needed to obtain the license due to the current suspension on new liquor licenses in the Federal Hill Business District—requested a $50,000 per-year fee, which far outweighs the amount paid by other large venues including Horseshoe Casino and the Mt. Vernon Marketplace.
The Baltimore Public Markets Corporation (BPMC), the nonprofit that oversees all of the city’s markets, says that the termination will be effective March 1, which will give the organization time to reassign employees and determine how to effectively proceed.
“While there is substantial consensus on the need for renovation, there is a divergence of opinions on the future vision of the market,” said BPMC marketing and communications manager Stacey Pack in a statement. “In light of today’s announcement, BPMC will need time to regroup and consider next steps for developing an action plan that will have the best interests of both the community and merchants in mind.”
While the news might please some merchants, who expressed their concerns at a rally last week, the future of the market’s much-needed enhancements is now as uncertain as ever.
Baltimore City Councilman Eric Costello, who represents the area and previously served as community president, says that the decision is disappointing.
“After being sworn into office, I have worked tirelessly ever since to help get this project across the finish line,” he said in a statement. “Public-private partnerships on municipal markets are extremely complex and challenging. Funding must be cobbled together and margins are extremely thin. The fact that CVP was the only team to respond demonstrates truly how challenging this effort was.”