Just one year ago, Towson-based developer Caves Valley Partners (CVP) announced that it would be redeveloping the South Baltimore staple Cross Street Market in Federal Hill. Controversy surrounded the project with merchants and residents who were displeased with the plans. At one point, CVP even decided to part ways with Cross Street Market all together following the backlash.
“There was a lot of resistance on the part of merchants who wanted to keep it open during the renovation,” said CVP developer Arsh Mirmiran. “They really didn’t feel like their businesses would be able to survive with a 10-month shutdown. We wanted to keep them as tenants, so we changed our design and decided to do it in phases while the market continues to operate.”
Phase one—the exterior demolition—kicked off earlier this month and was announced via an Instagram post. Mirmiran says the exterior renovations will be reminiscent of the market’s 1950s design with windows around the perimeter as it was following its reconstruction in 1952 after a fire tore through the building.
“The neighborhood association did a poll, and someone said it has all of the charm of a juvenile detention facility,” Mirmiran said. “We are cutting all that blockage out and opening the market up to let it get a lot more natural light into it.”
The CVP team visited other markets throughout the country and in Canada and Europe. The two places they were inspired by most were Union Market in Washington D.C. and the Ferry Terminal in San Francisco.
“While we took inspiration for the new design from markets around the country, we’ll still keep the local flavor of Baltimore,” he said. “From a pure design standpoint, we took it back to a modern interpretation of the way it was in its heyday.”
Now that the major portion of the construction is underway—with the interior renovation set to begin in six to eight weeks—visitors will get to see it all unfold as it happens while enjoying the vendors who will remain open during the renovations. To ensure there is still a substantial amount of foot traffic in the market, CVP added four new pop-up stalls in November including modern barbecue restaurant Smoke, Sundays donuts, Prescription Chicken, and Gertie’s Yummy Yogurt Bowls.
“By bringing in these pop-ups ahead of upcoming major renovations, the new merchants— expected to become mainstays in the redeveloped market—can meet their customers while driving additional business to the market as a whole,” Mirmiran said.
Josh White, the owner of Smoke, says he is excited about bringing his Baltimore County restaurant to the city, and even more ecstatic about the new plans for the market. He already has ideas for his permanent stall when the renovations are finished, including an exclusive menu—with items like Korean sticky ribs and chronic chicken salad—and even a late-night takeout window.
“We’re calling it Second-Hand Smoke,” he said. “It’s going to be ridiculous. The plans that they have for this place are not going to be like anything Baltimore has ever seen.”
Aside from new merchants and windows, the market will feature new outdoor seating options complete with fans and heaters so that guests can enjoy al fresco dining year-round.
There will also be new neon lighting throughout the interior to provide an old-school vibe that will pay homage to the history of the market.
“Back in 1952, there was a 6,000-person parade to celebrate the reopening of Cross Street Market,” Mirmiran said. “It’s a pretty cool sign of how important the market was to the city. We hope to make it that way again.”