A standoff between developer Scott Plank and the city over funding for the overhaul of Hollins Market could nix the deal.
A gap of about $4.75 million stands between Plank’s plans to redevelop the southwest Baltimore landmark and the scope and start date of the project. Plank said this week that the Baltimore Public Markets Corp. could soon take over the project and complete a scaled-back version of the renovation.
“By adding another layer, we’re adding another layer of time,” Plank said, of the year-long planning and design process to date. “It’s frustrating.”
Plank was given the nod to redevelop Hollins Market in early 2017 after he was the sole bidder in a request for proposals issued by the Baltimore Development Corp. His project comes amid a sweeping overhaul of many of the city’s public markets like Cross Street Market and Broadway Market with public and private funds. A $30 million plan to redevelop Lexington Market is in the works by private Seawall Development Co.
But Plank said the city and his nonprofit War Horse CDC had recently hit an impasse over funding for the project. Kirby Fowler, chairman of the public markets board, said War Horse could be jettisoned from the project at this time.
If that is the case, the public markets group would take over Plank’s planning for the Hollins redevelopment and use the $1.25 million in state and city bond funds committed for a scaled back re-do that would eliminate replacing the market’s windows and adding skylights.
“We all hope that more funds can be raised for additional improvements,” Fowler said. “In the meantime, in response to community requests and with the committed funds, we intend to move forward with the War Horse renovation plan and prepare Hollins Market for its next phase of redevelopment.”
Plank said his $6 million cost estimate for the redevelopment reflected the need to upgrade infrastructure inside and outside 172-year-old Hollins Market.
He said he had spent $350,000 on the Hollins redevelopment so far and had pledged a total of $500,000. Plank hired JRS Architects to focus on creating a new indoor space at Hollins with 21 vendor spaces and a large seating area down a center aisle. The plan also includes an outdoor patio area with new sidewalks and public gathering space for concerts and outdoor movies. It would also add large new windows and skylights to brighten up the market and upgrades to the HVAC and electrical system.
Fowler said Plank approached the public markets board about two months ago “with a revised operations plan” that included the scaled-back version of the project. He said the board is considering the plan and a plan of its own.
“Under any circumstance, his funds assisted us to get to this point, and he will be an important partner going forward,” Fowler said of War Horse CDC’s work to date.
The city’s public markets group is spending $3.2 million to redevelop the blighted, vacant north shed of Broadway Market in Fells Point. That project is nearing completion and will reopen in early 2019 with vendors from the south shed moving into new space. The south shed is being redeveloped by a private group led by Atlas Restaurant Group. in preparation for the 275-seat Choptank seafood restaurant to open there next year.
Plank’s for-profit development company War Horse LLC was lead developer in the successful overhaul of the privately owned Belvedere Square in North Baltimore.
War Horse was also a partner with Caves Valley Partners in the plans to redevelop Cross Street Market, but later backed out. That $7.8 million project is currently underway with several new and existing tenants being signed to move in when the market reopens next year.
This article was originally published in the Baltimore Business Journals on October 12, 2018. See it in its original post here.