Friday, March 29, 2013

Federal Hill Project Receives Prestigious Award

Congratulations to developers of Federal Hill’s sparkling new mixed use project at 1111 Light Street! The $34 million development, which has brought lots of energy to the business district, was named the most significant residential real estate project in 2012 by the Baltimore Business Journal-RE.

A panel of industry experts and Baltimore Business Journal staff selected the winners. Criteria included community impact, creative financing, and deal structuring.

“I couldn’t be any happier about how well the project has integrated into the Federal Hill landscape and how well received it has been by the commercial and residential markets and the neighborhood,” said project developer Arsh Mirmiran, director of development for Caves Valley Partners.  “Hearing so many neighbors say so many positive things about the project has been particularly gratifying.”

The development, which includes 93 apartments, 24,000 square feet of office space, and 6,000 square feet of retail, cost $34 million. M&T Bank and 7-11 occupy the retail space, while office space is leased by Betamore, an innovative technology incubator facility, Red Owl Analytics, and BTS Software Solutions. The apartments, which have access to an attractive courtyard (see photo), are two-thirds leased.

The developer worked hard to make 1111 Light Street fit in with the historic feel of Federal Hill and met with community organizations throughout the process. The certified green building also features a rowhouse-style structure, which fills in empty space that existed on Cross and William Streets and doesn’t block the existing skyline.

Elizabeth Nelson, Intern

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sonny Morstein Honored with Award and Party

Family, friends, fellow business owners, and neighbors gathered at Key Tech on March 20 to celebrate one of Federal Hill’s most beloved community members: Sonny Morstein.

In a surprise event, Morstein was presented with a Lifetime Achievement award (and commemorative bobble head in his likeness!) for his hard work and dedication to Federal Hill and South Baltimore.

“You only have to spend about two minutes with Sonny Morstein to see that he has an innate understanding of what a community is,” said speaker AMY Grace, former Main Street Board president who worked closely with Sonny to strengthen that community revitalization program.

And Sonny has worked hard to make his community the best that it can be. From serving as president of the South Baltimore Business Association (now Federal Hill Business Association (FHBA)) for 24 years to helping Federal Hill become one of five neighborhoods in Baltimore to join the Main Street program and serving as its first board president, Sonny has strived to improve a neighborhood that was almost forgotten.

“Sonny has been a mainstay of Federal Hill since the time when it looked really bleak to now when it looks fantastic,” said Cathy Hammond, current president of the Federal Hill Main Street board. “He’s always been here; he’s always been involved; he knows everyone, and everyone knows him. He’s a terrific guy and a terrific addition to the neighborhood.”

The event was sponsored by FHBA, Federal Hill Main Street, and Key Tech, which hosted the event in its attractive building. Party planners Frieda Ulman, Anna Epsilantis of Big Jim’s Deli, Crystal Moll, and Jane Seebold collected many photos from over the years that guests enjoyed seeing on a large screen.  

Over 30 local businesses donated to make the party special, including 14 restaurants that contributed an amazing buffet.  Live entertainment was provided by jazz guitarist Paul Snyder, who led the crowd in a rousing rendition of “Sunny,” with new, updated lyrics relating to the guest of honor.

“It’s very easy to get involved because it’s such a great place to have a business,” said Sonny, in graciously accepting the award.

Morstein’s Jewelers, which has been in Federal Hill since 1898, offers precious diamonds, and that’s what Morstein is to Federal Hill.

Elizabeth Nelson, Intern

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spring into Spring with SoBo Café!

SoBo Café is excited and ready for spring with a multitude of new events and specials to help you blossom into the season!

The Café has expanded its popular brunch to Saturdays, too. Every Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 until 3, enjoy SoBo’s brunch menu, which includes house-made biscuits and breads and house-smoked salmon.

Monday through Friday, 5-7 pm, check out “SoBo Hour.” You get $1 off drafts and glasses of wine and selected appetizers are just $4.

Monday is pasta day at SoBo! For just $20, you can indulge in house-made pasta, a side salad, and house wine or draft beer.  On select Tuesdays, SoBo has live music, from Cuban to jazz and everything in between.  Join them April 2nd for the jazz sounds of Paul Snyder and April 23rd for the acoustic sounds of Russ Causey. Wednesday is now all about wine at SoBo. From blind tastings to pairings, there will be different features every week, so come taste and learn about your favorite wine.

To celebrate the beautiful weather that’s headed our way, SoBo will soon be breaking out the outdoor tables and chairs. Enjoy delicious food and beautiful weather for brunch, lunch or dinner!

Can’t visit SoBo on Cross Street? They offer catering, and their sandwich platters will be a hit at your next party or event. SoBo will also make an appearance at select farmers’ markets this year selling baked goods, jams, and spreads.

No matter what day you visit SoBo Café this spring, you can be sure that something exciting is happening.

Elizabeth Nelson, Intern

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New Banners Welcome All to Federal Hill!

The streets of Federal Hill just got a little more colorful with the installation of 48 new banners last night.

Main Street volunteer and graphic artist Erin Nelson, who recently moved to Toronto for a new job, designed the banners.

A joint project by Federal Hill Main Street and the Federal Hill Business Association, which shared the cost of printing and installation, the banners are red on one side, blue on the other, and encourage visitors and residents alike to “Shop, Dine, and Explore.”

"We wanted something bright, fresh, and easy to read, something that reflects historic Federal Hill and that would create a visual border around our business district," said Cathy Hammond, Federal Hill Main Street Board president.

Coming soon will be a new map-brochure of the Federal Hill business district that incorporates the banner design. These will be distributed to area hotels and the Visitors Center in the Inner Harbor. You'll also be able to see the design reflected in the new Federal Hill ad coming out in the 2013 Charm City Circulator purple line map and on the video screen in the buses themselves.

Elizabeth Nelson, Intern

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Do Your Part: One Piece Initiative

One Piece, a neighborhood cleanup initiative, has arrived in Federal Hill, thanks to Federal Hill Neighborhood Association treasurer Gayle McClure and City Councilor Bill Cole.

Begun with some success in District 7, it is hoped that One Piece will be spread citywide. The initial focus of the project is on awareness.

“People who move here think the gutters magically get cleaned up,” said Gayle. “The city doesn’t do that – neighbors do that.”

The first One Piece meeting was held March 11, with representatives of Federal Hill Neighborhood Association, South Baltimore Neighborhood Association, Federal Hill South Neighborhood Association, and Digital Harbor High School.  Attendees brainstormed ideas for how to get the message out, tailor it to specific audiences, and even create rewards programs for those who sign the “One Piece pledge” to pick up and dispose of a piece of trash each day.

“If every resident in the city of Baltimore picked up one piece of trash, think how clean the Inner Harbor would be,” Gayle said.

She hopes to gain support from the Federal Hill Hospitality Association and the Business Association, as well as schools. She says this isn’t a short-term endeavor. Instead, she hopes it will become a long-term, sustained effort.

According to Gayle, there hasn’t been a trash program in the city of Baltimore since the 1980s. The city isn’t responsible for trash clean-up. That job falls on the individual neighborhoods. She has faith that the Federal Hill neighborhood is up to the task. “I think as a community, we can do it.”

The next One Piece meeting is Monday, March 25, 6 pm, at Federal Hill Main Street, 42 E. Cross Street.

Elizabeth Nelson, Intern

Friday, March 15, 2013

Collaborative Project Designed to Green Federal Hill!

A new greening initiative is underway in Federal Hill. The project, dubbed Federal Hill Thinking Green, is a cooperative effort of the business community, the residents, and the city to keep the neighborhood looking its best.

The Federal Hill Neighborhood Association, the Federal Hill Business Association, the Federal Hill Hospitality Association, and Federal Hill Main Street are funding the effort which will result in planting of scores of new trees throughout the community.

Federal Hill Thinking Green broke ground on February 18 with an official tree planting ceremony (see photo) at the new Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center (former South Baltimore Rec Center). The tree map, designed by Richard Polan of Richard Polan Associate Architects, who initiated the project, can be viewed here and includes everything from spots requested for tree planting to sites of previous efforts.

The expansive project includes grinding out existing tree stumps; planting replacement trees; creating new pits in designated sidewalk areas; installing gator bags; regular maintenance including cleaning, aerating, and watering; and education through emails and a hotline for questions.

More information about Federal Hill Thinking Green can be found on the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association web site here.

Elizabeth Nelson, intern