Winter 2016 | Market Center Newsletter
Quarterly News & Updates from Baltimore’s Market Center Merchants Association
In this update
- Merchant Spotlight: Kool Beanz
- An Update from the President and Executive Director of MCMA
- News and Updates
- Welcome New Businesses
- MCMA Committee Updates
- Development Activity in the Market Center
- About the Market Center
- About the Market Center Merchants Association
Merchant Spotlight: Kool Beanz
Red Velvet, Delivered
Looking for a new spot to grab an excellent cup of coffee, or perhaps a slice of rich, homemade red velvet cake? Look no further than Kool Beanz, tucked away on 315 W. Madison Street. Kool Beanz opened its doors in January 2016, after the owners completely renovated the entire building (they also created five lovely studio apartments, available for short-term rentals).
Today, Kool Beanz is a small, welcoming spot that offers Zeke’s coffee, frappes and lattes in fourteen different flavors, a variety of homemade cakes, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, and daily specials. Kool Beanz has become a favorite of the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus staff and visitors, as well as residents of the nearby M on Madison Apartments. Bonus if you are close by: they deliver!
From the Leadership of the Market Center Merchants Association
From the MCMA President, Steve Samuelson
Small Business Saturday 2016 has just passed, but the Market Center Merchants Association cares about small businesses 365 days a year, and I want to take a moment to thank you, the Market Center merchants, nonprofit organizations, and cultural and educational institutions, for making Market Center your home. Whether you operate out of a stall in Lexington Market or Mount Vernon Marketplace, a storefront, an office, a theater or a campus, whether you employ one person or thousands, and whether you’ve been here for one month or centuries, your presence contributes to Market Center’s vitality.
Small Business Saturday serves as an important reminder that where we spend our money has a big impact on the communities about which we care. If we want Market Center to thrive, people must patronize Market Center establishments, and as business owners and representatives of area institutions, we must lead by example.
For its part, the Market Center Merchants Association aims to deliver this message throughout the year, and to heighten the visibility of Market Center businesses through its website, social media and other activities. However, it is not enough to make people aware of the offerings in Market Center. Together with a variety of partners, we are also working to keep Market Center clean, secure and appealing, and to fill the vacant buildings. You can read more about these activities in the committee reports in this newsletter, and I encourage you to join a committee if you want to become more involved.
Together, we can continue to foster the growth of this business district. We can start by renewing our commitment to patronizing each other’s businesses. Every little bit counts.
From the MCMA Executive Director, Kristen Mitchell
Hello! As MCMA’s first Executive Director, I am excited to work in what I consider to be the coolest, most unique part of Baltimore City. I look forward to working with you — the business owners and key stakeholders — to strengthen existing businesses, foster entrepreneurship and new business growth, welcome the arts, bring new life to long-vacant buildings, and ultimately help Market Center reach its full potential as a diverse, healthy community, and a great place to live, work, play and invest.
Though I plan to meet all 300+ Market Center business owners, it will take time. If I haven’t met you yet, please know that I haven’t forgotten you — I just haven’t gotten to you yet! Of course, you can always ca¬¬ll or email to schedule a time for me to stop by. My phone number is 443–478–3014, and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
A bit about me: I have always loved cities, and Baltimore in particular. Though I grew up in Columbia, I often visited my dad at his job near Market Center, and I was drawn to Market Center’s historic buildings, energy, and mix of people and businesses.
I believe that small businesses are central to the success of any city or town — without them, many buildings would be vacant, and residents would have fewer places to shop, dine, be entertained, or take care of daily needs. Small businesses help a place stand out as unique, giving it a competitive edge for attracting residents and business growth.
For nine years, as a Senior Economic Development Officer with the Baltimore Development Corporation, I worked with small businesses and business organizations in Northeast Baltimore, primarily on Belair, Harford and York Roads. After a brief stint with the State of Maryland, I accepted this position with Market Center and feel like I won the job lottery!
News & Updates in the Market Center
New Zoning Code
Baltimore City’s zoning code determines permitted, conditional and prohibited land uses, establishes rules for things such as new construction, parking and signs, and outlines approval processes.
In 2008, the Planning Department embarked on a comprehensive update to make the code more understandable and predictable, enable easier reuse of old buildings, and foster a more walkable, mixed-use environment. After years of debate, hundreds of hours of hearings, and many amendments, the City Council approved, and the mayor signed, the new zoning code in early December. It takes effect June 5.
Under the new code, most of Market Center is zoned C-5-DC (Downtown Core), C-5-HS (Downtown Howard Street Mixed-Use) and C-5-HT (Downtown Historic and Traditional). The block bound by Eutaw, Madison, Howard and Monument is C-1 (Neighborhood Business). The block bound by Eutaw, Monument, Howard and Centre includes some TOD-4 (Transit-Oriented Development).
Baltimore’s Bike Share program launched October 26 and includes two stations in Market Center: Lexington Market and Mount Vernon Marketplace. Bike share helps people get around the city more easily without having to drive, which can increase their access to and awareness of your business; it may also make it easier for some employees to get to work on time. Perhaps most importantly, people increasingly want to live and spend time in walkable, bike-friendly places. As a very walkable community, Market Center is well-positioned to take advantage of this trend and attract more residents, customers and businesses.
Maryland Avenue Cycle Track
Baltimore City recently installed a “Cycle Track” — a protected bike lane — on Maryland Avenue and Cathedral Street, with the goal of improving bicycle access and bike safety. In the future, bike lanes will also be added to Madison, Monument, Preston and Biddle, further enhancing Baltimore’s appeal to people who use a bike to get around.
Baltimore Link — Bus System
The Maryland Transit Administration is redesigning the local and express bus systems throughout Baltimore and adding 12 new high-frequency bus routes to improve connections to jobs and MARC, Metro and Light Rail. BaltimoreLink includes dedicated bus lanes (possibly on Baltimore and Fayette Streets in Market Center), some transit signal prioritization, transfer hubs, new signs, expanded commuter bus service, new bicycle amenities, access to car sharing options, and more. The high-frequency CityLink routes will launch in summer 2017. The new system should make it easier for people to get to Market Center. For more information on the proposed new routes, visit BaltimoreLink.com.
Bromo Arts District’s New Executive Director
In October, the Bromo Arts District selected Stephen Yasko to serve as the organization’s Executive Director. Mr. Yasko has been an active member of the Baltimore arts scene for more than a decade and is a 25-year veteran of public media. As General Manager of WTMD-FM, he coordinated Baltimore’s music community by developing programming and events to showcase the City’s musicians. He oversaw creation and construction of WTMD’s new broadcast facility in downtown Towson.
Market Center Merchants Association representatives have met with Mr. Yasko to discuss how the organizations, which cover a lot of the same geographic area, can best work together for the greater good of the business and arts communities.
Innovative Energy Efficiency Loan Program
Earlier this year, the City Council passed and Mayor signed into law the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program, making it more cost effective for commercial property owners to finance energy efficiency, water efficiency or renewable energy upgrades through private lenders. The loans are paid off through increased property tax assessments, which allows commercial property owners to finance comprehensive retrofits without upfront costs. In many cases, energy savings exceed the additional payment, which translates into a positive cash flow, quickly. For an overview of PACE, visit: http://pacenation.us/what-is-pace/. The program has not yet officially launched in Baltimore. MCMA will keep you informed regarding the program launch.
Department of Public Works Updates
Repairs to the Mulberry Street sinkhole should be complete in January 2017. One lane of westbound Saratoga (between Greene and Paca) should open in late December, and Mulberry should open mid-January.
Repairs to the Cathedral Street sinkhole should be complete in February 2017.
Questions? Contact TeCola Jones (410) 545–6541 (office), (443) 835–8029 (cell) or email@example.com
University of Maryland’s Procurement Policy Changes
The University of Maryland recently changed its procurement policy. Under the previous policy, any procurement greater than $5,000 required competition or justification as a sole source. Under the revised policy, these requirements only apply if the procurement is greater than $25,000. For information, visit http://elm.umaryland.edu/changes-to-procurement-policies-and-procedures/ or contact Joe Evans, director of procurement services, at 410–706–1850 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome New Businesses
- Accessories & More, 230 Park
- Between Two Buns, Mount Vernon Marketplace
- Brown Rice, Mount Vernon Marketplace
- Connie’s Chicken & Waffles, Lexington Market
- Eileen Fashion, 110 N. Howard
- Falpal’s Closet, 401 N. Eutaw
- Global Wireless, 106 N. Howard
- Juniper Apothecary, Mount Vernon Marketplace
- King of Lexington Jewelry, 110 N. Eutaw
- Kool Beanz, 315 W. Madison
- Mi & Yu Noodle Bar, Mount Vernon Marketplace
- National Tobacco & Body Oil, 234 N. Eutaw
- Ossie Kollections, 300 W. Lexington
- Parkside Liquors, 318 Park
- Royal Menu, 206 W. Saratoga
MCMA Committee Updates
Clean & Safe Committee
Chair: P.C. Price, Legal Services Associates, Inc.
Co-Chair: Ann Winder, The Place Lounge
Meets the first and third Mondays of the month at 8:30 a.m.
- Starting in December, MCMA will be sweeping the streets and picking up trash once a week, in collaboration with the Baltimore Courts’ Community Services Program. This program places community service workers with pre-approved worksites to allow them to complete court-ordered community service. Please say hello when you see us! We expect this work to complement existing services provided by the City and Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.
- The committee identified the east side of the 100 block of Eutaw Street for a pilot beautification project. Stay tuned!
Community Development Committee
Chair: Wendy Blair, Re/Max Commercial Logic
Meets the first Thursday of every month at 8:30 a.m.
- The committee is working with the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore to provide interested businesses with inexpensive but valuable Customer Service and Sales Fundamentals Training to build employees’ skills and confidence — and to boost the bottom line. The program prepares people to take a test to get a certification in Customer Sales & Services from the National Retail Federation. Please contact Kristen Mitchell if you are interested.
- An attractive facade acts as a welcome sign for small businesses. The committee is actively recruiting business and property owners to participate in the facade improvement grant programs offered by the Baltimore Development Corporation and Downtown Partnership. For more information, see the Resources section of this newsletter.
Chair: Scott Garfield, Lexington Market
Co-Chair: Dave Wren, Lexington Business Services
Meets the second Wednesday of every month at 8:30 a.m.
- MCMA hosted a contest to generate ideas for a new logo. The winner will receive $500 in prizes from Market Center.
- MCMA received a $250 grant from Baltimore Heritage, which will be used to take Baltimore City students who excel in the MD History Day Competition on a tour of historic sites. During lunch, students will discuss what they saw, if and why it matters today, the synergy between old buildings, small businesses and healthy commercial districts, and how people can support healthy historic commercial districts.
- The committee is working with the Social Studies Department of Baltimore City Public Schools, Baltimore Heritage, and the Baltimore National Heritage Area to create and promote field trips to Market Center sites. We are looking for businesses and cultural and educational centers with a tour or program that can be offered to school groups. If your business or site has something to provide to students, contact Kristen Mitchell (email@example.com) or Patrick Cutter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Resources for Members of the Market Center Merchants Association
This website is a one-stop shop for a vast array of small business-related information, from counseling to financial resources to information on required permits and licenses.
Facade Improvement Grants
- The Baltimore Development Corporation offers matching grants of up to $7,500 for improvements to the front exterior of your building. For information: baltimoredevelopment.com/incentives/façade-grant/
- The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore offers matching grants of up to $10,000 for improvements to the front exterior of your building. For information: godowntownbaltimore.com/work/construction/index.aspx.
- The Baltimore Development Corporation offers micro loans ($5–30,000) for existing and start-up small businesses with financing for working capital, furniture, machinery, fixtures and equipment. For information: info@BaltimoreDevelopment.com or call 410–837–9305.
- The Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) offers $5,000-$50,000 loans with rates from 7.5 to 14% and terms from 6 months to five years. The loans may be used as a bridge loan for matching funds for government grant programs, including façade improvement grants. Despite its name, the LEDC works with business owners of all races and ethnicities. Contact Eric Lin at email@example.com or 443–708–7035.
- The Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development offers flexible financing to new or expanding small businesses or nonprofit organizations through its Neighborhood Business Works program. For information: dhcd.maryland.gov/Business/Pages/NBW.aspx, or contact Michael Haloskey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301–429–7523.
Small Business Counseling
- The Small Business Resource Center (SBRC), cultivates and supports the growth and development of small businesses and entrepreneurs in Baltimore City through technical assistance, training, counseling, workshops and a vast resource library. Call 443–451–7160 or visit sbrcbaltimore.com for more information.
- The LEDC also offers counseling for small businesses on topics ranging from business plans to personal and business finances to permits and licenses. Contact Eric Lin at email@example.com or 443–708–7035.
The Downtown Partnership offers financial incentives to technology companies that lease commercial space within the Downtown Management Authority boundaries, which includes most of Market Center. Small- to medium-sized tech businesses of all types are eligible to apply. Successful applicants will receive up to $10,000, and site selection and brokerage help from Downtown Partnership. For information: godowntownbaltimore.com/work/TechConnect/index.aspx
Development Activity in the Market Center
- Blue = Recently Complete
- Green = Under Way
- Yellow = Breaking Ground Soon
About the Market Center
Market Center is comprised of 27 blocks in the vicinity of Lexington Market, roughly bounded by Baltimore Street to the south, Greene to the west, Cathedral/Liberty to the east and Madison to the north. The exact boundaries are best shown on a map [left].
Established in 1983, Market Center is one of ten Retail Business District License (RBDL) areas in the City of Baltimore. Each RBDL was established by a separate City Council ordinance, and the businesses within the RBDL boundaries are required to pay an annual fee, which the city collects and then redistributes back to the business association for use in the district.
About the Market Center Merchants Association
The Market Center Merchants Association (MCMA) represents the businesses within Market Center. MCMA is using the RBDL fees to support a variety of work, much of which is outlined in the reports in this newsletter.
Board of Directors
Wendy Blair, Vice President
Robert Max, Treasurer
Steve Samuelson, President