Belvedere Square

The revitalized market has restored the area to its former glory.

visitors' guide

October 21, 2005|By JENNY HOFFMAN | JENNY HOFFMAN,SPECIAL TO BALTIMORESUN.COM

As with the rest of Baltimore City, Belvedere Square, on York Road south of Northern Parkway, has experienced a roller coaster of ups and downs through the decades. However, thanks to a major renovation in 2003, interested businesses and loyal patrons, it's again hip to be Belvedere Square.

The Belvedere market joyfully reopened after a decade of inactivity and neglect. Belvedere Holdings LLC, Inc., a development team of Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse Inc., Manekin Corporation, Hawkins Development Group, and Williams Jackson Ewing, purchased the aging shopping center with the goal of restoring its former magnificence.

During the 1940s, the Belvedere Avenue Shopping Center represented a new kind of setting for residents of North Baltimore. Hochschild Kohn opened its second Baltimore department store there, boasting a modern selection of men's, women's and children's clothing and accessories, along with home furnishings, a beauty salon and a soda fountain. The shopping center also featured restaurants and the Senator Theatre right across the street.

After exploring various redevelopment scenarios, including a proposal to clear the site and construct a large freestanding supermarket, Belvedere Holdings settled on a plan to retain the existing buildings and restore the area's village center ambiance. The coalition received a $400,000 loan for capital improvements associated with the revitalization of the 101,000-square-foot shopping center. In addition, a city funding agreement allotted $500,000 in Motor Vehicle Revenue funds for improving and resurfacing Belvedere Avenue.

The coalition of developers has certainly changed the square for the better. Now, on balmy Friday nights, it's the place to be for families from surrounding neighborhoods. They gather with folding chairs, blankets, strollers and picnic dinners for Summer Sounds at the Square, a free concert series featuring some of Baltimore's favorite bands.

I can't remember where I used to eat and shop before the market reopened," remarks Shelly Terranova, a Lake Walker resident and director of the Baltimore Junior League. (The league, which recently moved its offices next door to Belvedere Square, manages the Wise Penny across York Road from the center.) "It seems I'm always there to take care of errands, and Summer Sounds on the Square gives my husband and me a way to socialize with other adults in a family-friendly environment with our 18-month-old daughter."

Mark Terranova, Shelly's husband and vice president of the Lake Walker Neighborhood Association, agrees. "Our neighborhood already had a strong sense of community, but the resurgence of the market gives us an enjoyable, local entertainment venue. It's fun to be able to walk down with my family, have great food and drinks, and see our neighbors and their children having fun."

The growing interest of the surrounding communities has drawn new businesses to Belvedere Square since its re-emergence. Nouveau Contemporary Goods, Inc., relocated from Mount Vernon in 2005. "We needed a place where there are people -- and I know how well the Streuver Bros. treat their tenants," co-owner and business partner Lee Whitehead explains.

There are certainly people at Belvedere Square. Residents of nearby Ramblewood, Lake Walker, Lake Evesham, Belvedere, Chinquapin Park, Evesham Park, Cedarcroft, Govans, Homeland and six universities enjoy the convenience and community atmosphere of the market, restaurants and eclectic shops.

The 12,000-square-foot, European-style Belvedere Square Market offers a quick lunch or easy dinner for just about any taste. Ikan Seafood (pronounced "Econ") boasts an impressive array of sushi-quality seafood for sale, along with a fresh sushi bar. Ceriello accepts daily shipments of fresh meats from its butcher in Long Island to accompany authentic Italian sauces and gift baskets. For homemade soup and bread or gourmet sandwiches, patrons can head down to Atwater's. The hand-shaped, hearth-baked breads and pastries are actually made from scratch right in the market. If dinner is "to go," customers will want to stop by the Dutch Connection for a bouquet of flowers (prearranged or choose your own) to display in one of owner Paula Dobbe-Maher's unique pottery creations.

Speaking of pastries and other goodies, Louise's Bakery teases taste buds with pecan nut logs, chocolate-topped cookies, raisin buns and a full-service coffee bar. If salty goodies are more appealing, The Peanut Shoppe sells fresh-roasted peanuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, dried fruits and more. Neopol's Savory Smokery features delicacies such as smoked seafood, cheeses, poultry, game and cheese pies. And, Planet Produce owner Steve Dietrich serves produce from local farmers whenever possible and fruit smoothies and vegetable juices at his Earth's Essence juice bar.

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