Renovated Bagby building attracts more retailers

November 13, 2008|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,

Developers of the historic Bagby Furniture Building in Little Italy said yesterday that they have commitments from retailers to fill well over half the building's newly renovated store space, with the first store, Verizon Wireless, to open tomorrow.

Chesapeake Real Estate Group LLC is nearing completion on a $2 million to $3 million transformation of mostly vacant office space into a mix of offices and 25,000 square feet of street-level shops.

The development group bought the century-old building at Fleet and Exeter streets just north of Harbor East more than a year ago from Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse.

Besides Verizon, the developers have deals with PNC Bank to open a branch by February, the Dutch Connection florist to open by March, and two restaurants, a brick-oven pizza eatery and an American fusion bistro.

Outdoor seating

The restaurants are to open next spring and will include outdoor seating in a courtyard along Fleet Street. The building could accommodate two more restaurants.

Neil J. Tucker, a partner in Chesapeake Real Estate, said the Bagby project will help link Little Italy and Harbor East, a new waterfront community of apartments, shops, offices, restaurants and hotels.

The building sits across from a Whole Foods supermarket, the Maryland Athletic Club and Landmark Theatres.

"We're able to build on the success already taking place in Harbor East," which has helped spur demand for new shops, even amid an economic downturn, Tucker said. "It really is defining the new retail center for Baltimore City."

The building was built in 1901 for the Bagby furniture maker, which closed in 1990. Struever Bros. renovated the building, which housed Eisner Communications, an advertising agency that closed in 2006.

Just moved in

The red-brick building has four floors of office space. A new office tenant, Patriot Capital, moved in last month, joining current tenant McCormick & Taylor, an engineering firm.

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