Ripken group among 6 bidding to replace Harvey's restaurant

Green Spring Station owner near decision

Commercial real estate

May 27, 2000|By David Nitkin and Joe Strauss | David Nitkin and Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

The Iron Man may be tough on the field, but here's hoping he knows how to cook a tender steak.

Baltimore Orioles third-baseman Cal Ripken Jr. is part of a group negotiating to open a restaurant at Green Spring Station, the tony commercial center at Joppa and Falls roads, just outside the Baltimore Beltway in Brooklandville.

Ripken said his group made an initial inquiry about a month ago and expects an outcome shortly.

"We've been looking for the right opportunity and were approached about this," said Ripken, who lives in nearby Reisterstown. "It's where I live. It's something I have some familiarity with. So we've expressed some interest. We'll see where it goes."

The group is one of six that have discussed renting the 6,643-square-foot space formerly occupied by Harvey's, a restaurant that closed in March after 20 years.

"The Ripken bunch is interested, as are several others," said Tom Peddy of Fox-leigh Enterprises Inc., developer and owner of Green Spring Station. "There is one national chain, an outfit from Washington, and four from Baltimore."

A restaurant would add to Ripken's portfolio of regional investments, which includes the BayRunners basketball team and a fitness center geared toward developing skills in athletes.

Ripken said he doesn't anticipate the restaurant's theme focusing on his celebrity or Hall of Fame career. The restaurant's name might have a "subtle" reference to its most famous owner but "wouldn't be something like `Ripken's,'" he said.

Ira Rainess, Ripken's personal attorney and business manager, would not disclose the business partners or other details.

"Cal gets approached dozens of times every year to do a restaurant, and, to date, he has never done one," Rainess said.

After fielding inquiries from prospective tenants for the past two months, Peddy said, he will try to solidify a deal within the next two weeks so that a new restaurant is open by October, well before the holiday season. The Ripken group enjoys no special advantage, he said.

"Green Spring Station has not had a vacancy in six years," Peddy said. "One doesn't want to react too quickly."

A new restaurant will have to start from scratch. Tables, chairs and all kitchen equipment have been removed from the space.

Many patrons were surprised when Harvey's abruptly closed two months ago. The restaurant was one of the original tenants of the shopping center, built in 1979, and former owner Harvey Sugarman attributed its closing to a personal dispute with Foxleigh, the landlord. Sugarman said he is continuing his catering business.

But Peddy takes another view, calling the closing "purely financial."

"We have bent over backwards to keep Harvey's in business for a number of years," he said.

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