A few weeks after the Freddie Gray disturbances at North and Pennsylvania avenues in 2015, developer James Riggs deliberated whether he and his firm should embark upon a $21 million project to resurrect a beleaguered city block a mile away.
I never looked back,” he said of his venture, now being marketed as Walbrook Mill by his Osprey Property Co.
“The food hall is what makes this project transformative,” Riggs said. “Walbrook Mill will be more than just where people live, although that’s a great goal. We want to preserve a retail presence on North Avenue. We want to become a destination for people to come and have a meal and maybe listen to some music. So far, we’ve had rental interest for more food spaces than we have available.”
His mission is to fill a retail need in West Baltimore that is not being met currently. He envisions Coppin State students and faculty as potential customers for his new food hall and its vendors.
“We looked around and saw a handful of restaurants in the Coppin-Walbrook-Mondawmin area,” he said. “The area is definitely underserved, and we want to change that. Neighborhood input in the project said that there was a need here for more food services.”
“There are 65 vacant properties in the three blocks west of Walbrook Mill,” said Dan Ellis, director of Neighborhood Housing Services. “Our biggest challenge is assembling those rowhouses from their owners. Another $15 million will fix them.”
While the apartment house facing North Avenue went up in 2019, several of the old mill and warehouse structures at the rear of the hilly property were maintained. There are no plans at present for their conversion.
“The old lumber warehouse could be a great site for a workforce development use that would provide jobs for the neighborhood,” said Riggs as he led an informal tour this week. “We are actively seeking users and developers for the buildings.”
Baltimore Sun |
Feb 22, 2020 | 8:38 AM