Friday, May 31, 2013

Federal Hill: A “Walker’s Paradise”

Hailed as “the most walkable neighborhood in Baltimore” by last year, Federal Hill now has the fantastic walkability score of 98!

A “Walker’s Paradise,” the website says, where daily errands in Federal Hill don’t require a car, and that’s a great thing! A high walkability scores means:

  • People in walkable neighborhoods weigh 6-10 lbs less.
  • Walkable places make you happier and healthier.
  • Short commutes reduce stress and increase community involvement.

Not only is Federal Hill walkable, it has an “excellent” transit score of 74. So it’s easy to get to and easy to get around!

The walk score is measured by an algorithm, which gives points based on how close amenities are to a given location. The website allows visitors to put in a neighborhood or a specific address and computes the walk score for that location. In addition, is also beta testing a “street smart” walk score, in which the Federal Hill Business District receives a score of 100!

So next time you’re in need of a bar or restaurant, live entertainment, coffee, gifts and clothing, realtors, tax professionals, and spas, think of Federal Hill, and your destination will only be a few blocks away!

Elizabeth Nelson, Intern

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Calling All Book Lovers: Book Escape Contest!

Weekends at The Book Escape just got more interesting! Starting May 11, The Book Escape began a new weekend contest: $20 hidden in a book somewhere in the store!

The first announcement was made on the Facebook page, with a clue: “There is a hunter among us.” Local firefighter Ron Howard knew that Stephen Hunter, a nationally respected author and critic, lived in Federal Hill, so he popped across the street and found the prize in a copy of Master Sniper.

The Book Escape hopes to continue the contest every weekend, and will continue to announce the clues and winners on their Facebook and Twitter. The usual prize will be $20, but some weekends, it might be higher!

“We will try to pick out books and provide clues that might help expand one's knowledge, or at least provide some interesting trivia, on reading and literature,” said Andrew Stonebarger, owner of The Book Escape.   

So head on down to The Book Escape on Saturdays for a chance to learn about literature and maybe find some literary treasure of your own!

Elizabeth Nelson, Intern

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Vanessa's Vintage Treasures: Same Great Merchandise, New Location

Vanessa has an array of dazzling costume
jewelry, like these mid-century earrings
Upon passing through the lilac-colored, yet unassuming door of Vanessa’s Vintage Treasures, I am greeted with nostalgia for decades long past that, like many young thrifters, I have never even experienced. Cream-colored lace drapes old mahogany wood dressers displaying 1950’s costume jewelry and sterling silver clip-on earrings. Stacks of royal blue china teacups and saucers decorate the shelves like glass flowers. Colorful fabric swatches printed with 19th century scenes hang freely, inviting the adventurous old-spirit to repurpose them with a contemporary flare. Whatever your niche, whatever your price point, Vanessa’s quaint, yet artfully crafted showroom of “old stuff” has a gem awaiting your discovery.

Federal Hill’s cherished antique shop, Vanessa’s Vintage Treasures, after 22 thriving years of business, has relocated to a new space at 1028 S. Charles Street. Though slightly smaller than her previous storefront at 1132 S. Charles, shop proprietor Vanessa White says she’s acclimated to the new space and happily anticipates her re-opening in late May. “I hope all my old customers and new ones will come,” says Vanessa.

As with her first store, Vanessa’s inventory consists of mostly vintage fabrics, such as lace, costume and silver jewelry, and glassware. “I still consider this a linen store, but the jewelry is really my forte. I think it is because I am extremely picky.” Walking through her space now, which is overflowing with eye-catching objects, it’s apparent that one is among a professional collector. “At any given time, you  never know what’s going to be a best seller,” says Vanessa, “I’ve had weeks where I’ve only sold pottery; collectibles go up and down in popularity.” Vanessa has a small network of “pickers” who buy items on her behalf, mostly from estate sales. Although she may have a large collection of, say, 1920’s broaches one day, they may just as soon fly off her shelves the next. “I have very loyal clientele,” she says proudly. “They know what they like.”

A self-identified “old school” Baltimorean, born and raised right here in Federal Hill, Vanessa doesn't use computer technology   company or personal e-mail, social media, a store website   to bolster her business. Instead, she humbly relies on the loyalty of her customers, who have continued to drive her business through word-of-mouth alone. “I plan to go digital in the near future,” says Vanessa. For now, vintage seekers will just have to dig the old-fashioned way.

Briana Lopes, Intern

Friday, May 24, 2013

New Business Gives Real Estate Buyers an “Edge”

A new business with a unique take on real estate has moved into Federal Hill. Buyer’s Edge is an “exclusive buyer’s broker” meaning they represent the home buyer instead of listing properties for sale and representing the home buyers as most other real estate agencies do.

Though Buyer’s Edge is based in Bethesda, Vice President John Sullivan, who has owned a row house in Federal Hill since 2004, says that having an office in Federal Hill (at 1033 S. Charles Street) suits their current needs.

 “You’re right in the middle of everything,” Sullivan said.  “It’s a fabulous opportunity to serve an underserved area.”

Sullivan, a member of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents and a licensed agent for over twenty years, says that Buyer’s Edge recognizes the importance of having a physical presence. With a walkability score of 97, the ability to walk to 140 restaurants in 40 minutes, and an active business district the Federal Hill area is a great place for that presence.

“Federal Hill is the place to be in Baltimore for living, working, entertaining, and recreating,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan is a former President of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer’s Agents and one of fewer than 100 agents nationwide that has been recognized by both the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents and the National Association of Realtors for having training and experience in Buyer Agency. He also continues to work on modifying the Maryland State Agency Disclosure Statement.

“These commitments allow me to develop a unique relationship of trust and care, which assures buyers the best possible home buying experience,” Sullivan said.

We welcome John and the whole Buyer’s Edge team to Federal Hill!

Elizabeth Nelson, Intern

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Federal Hill Demographics: Read All About It!

The new demographic study commissioned by Federal Hill Main Street in January is now available and posted on our Web site. The final report is in two parts, the main report and the appendices.

The study’s authors (local resident Maggie Cawley on behalf of Go Global GIS. LLC) report on the growth, changes, and opportunities in South Baltimore compared with 2000. Since that time, Federal Hill’s population has grown significantly as more college-educated professionals moved to the area. In addition to college graduates, the data also show that the area has drawn young families and “empty-nesters.”

The study also includes information on “retail opportunities” for new businesses and the gaps that exist in the area. The data show a myriad of opportunities for retailers in Federal Hill, including specialty food, home, and sports-related products.

Federal Hill Main Street’s Business Development Committee will use the report as a resource to attract new businesses and expand the appeal of the district by meeting broader consumer demands.

If you would like to get involved or join the volunteer committee, please contact Jane Seebold, Executive Director by emailing

To view the demographic study, click here and for the appendices click here.

Elizabeth Nelson, Intern

Friday, May 17, 2013

Free Kids’ Kross Street at Jazz&Blues Fest: June 2

It’s that time of year again! On June 2nd, Federal Hill Main Street will host the 13th Annual Jazz & Blues Wine & Art Festival featuring the popular children’s play area, Kids’ Kross Street! Misty Keens, parent volunteer and co-coordinator, says she’s excited about their return and feels the activities provided by Kids’ Kross Street enrich the Federal Hill community.

“I’ve immensely enjoyed organizing Kids’ Kross Street. Shane and I have been fortunate enough to have inherited a very dedicated core group of volunteers that give so much to this community throughout the year. It’s nice to be a part of that,” says Misty.                                                                                    
SoBo Kids, the neighborhood family volunteer organization, returns to the festival to adorn children of all sizes with colorful face paint and temporary tattoos. Their station will be operating between 1 and 3 pm. There will also be a sidewalk chalk area where children can create their own masterpieces and a bubble pool, along with some do-it-yourself craft booths.

After they’ve been artfully crafted into their favorite cartoon character or animal, be sure to accompany your little ones to listen to the famous Urban Pirates, who will host story time at 3 pm. After patiently sitting through these sedentary, though fun activities, your kids are sure to be bursting with energy and excitement! What better way to channel that energy than jumping around in one of the two moon bounces? To keep kids safe, parent volunteers take turns supervising the blow-up vessels (which also enables them to enjoy the festival’s adult activities, including the amazing music line-up).

The overwhelmingly popular rice-pools (who knew?) will be set up again this year, where toddlers can amaze and amuse their senses using the many toys on hand to scoop up and play with raw rice. Lawn games will be ongoing, where older kids can compete in bean bag and ring toss. After all the jumping, throwing, tossing, running, and playing, our kids are sure to work up an appetite! Satisfy their hunger and perhaps spark cultural curiosity by participating in a sushi-rolling demo with Roy’s Restaurant.

“Every kid will be entertained,” said volunteer co-coordinator Shane Splitt. “Every parent will be able to enjoy the time while their child is busy playing.”

Thanks to volunteers and organizers, Kids’ Kross Street will continue to be an integral part of the Jazz & Blues Festival, helping to create memories and build bonds within the Federal Hill community. “I hope that the future brings in a new band of parents willing to give back to this community that gives so much to them,” says Misty.

For more information on the festival, go to

Briana Lopes, Intern

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Service Assists Drivers with Parking

Tired of searching for parking in Baltimore? It just got a whole lot easier!
Parking Panda is an online and mobile app service that allows drivers to save time and money by reserving and paying for a parking spot in advance. Parking Panda also helps parking owners and managers, both private and commercial, to fill up their spaces by “driving extra traffic when yield is low and improving pricing when the lot is full.”
“Simply put, we allow drivers to find and reserve parking to help remove the pain of parking in a city or near an event and help garage owners fill up their empty spaces,” said co-founder Nick Miller.
Parking Panda now offers services in Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and many more locations, but they started here in Baltimore and operated out of an office at 1111 Light Street in Federal Hill. Both Miller and his co-founder, Adam Zilberbaum, grew up in Baltimore.
“When you're starting a business, a knowledge of the local market is really helpful.  We also thought Baltimore was a great representation of the larger market we wanted to attack. Baltimore has a small but burgeoning tech community that really helped foster our company when it was starting out and has always been very supportive of what we're doing,” Miller said.
So next time you’re looking for affordable parking, let Parking Panda take the hassle out of the search. You’ll save time, money, and most importantly, the frustration of searching for parking on a busy Baltimore street!

Elizabeth Nelson, Intern