1 Developer Unveils Plans For Parkway

Old Theater Would Become 'drafthouse

' Other Buildings Would Be Restaurant, Housing

August 13, 2009|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,ed.gunts@baltsun.com

Baltimore's Parkway Theatre would be transformed to a "cinema and drafthouse," and adjacent buildings would become a steak restaurant and student apartments, under a $1.95 million development proposal submitted by Virginia-based businessman Joseph E. "Teddy" Kim.

Kim said he would work with owners of the Virginia-based Arlington Cinema'N'Drafthouse operation to convert the Parkway to a 600-seat dining and entertainment space by the fall of 2011, if the city accepts his proposal for the theater at 3-5 W. North Ave.

The drafthouse would feature first-run and independent films, live comedy shows and other acts inside the shell of the 1915 theater, which has been dormant for more than a decade. Patrons would sit at tables on tiers inside the theater, with food and drinks served during the performances, and a marquee and "electronic posters" would be added to the building's exterior to call attention to future events.

The adjacent building at 1 W. North Ave. would be replaced or reskinned with a glass facade and reopened as the Station North Steakhouse, and a building at 1820 N. Charles St. would be converted to seven or eight student apartments. The steakhouse's kitchen would provide food service for the theater patrons.

Kim's vision for the Parkway Theatre is one of two submitted in response to a request for proposals issued last May by the Baltimore Development Corp.

The second plan was submitted by Samuel Polakoff, a Maryland businessman who recently agreed to abandon plans for his $250 million Gateway South development on Russell Street to make way for a slots parlor. Polakoff, who is expected to receive more than $3 million from the parlor's operators to walk away from his project on Russell Street, could not be reached.

Kim, 29, is one of the owners of land on the northwest corner of Charles Street and North Avenue, just north of the Parkway. Educated in urban planning, he also has worked closely with restaurateur Tony Cheng, who controls numerous properties in the 100-acre Station North arts and entertainment district.

Kim said he submitted his proposal because he is excited about the city's plans for the arts district and believes reopening the theater would be a key to its rejuvenation. He said he brought in the Arlington Cinema'N'Drafthouse operators because "they have a proven track record of redeveloping old theater space," with two other "Cinema'N'Drafthouse" sites in metropolitan Washington besides the one in Arlington.

Brown Craig Turner of Baltimore would be Kim's architect. TK Services of Alexandria, Va., a construction firm run by Kim, would oversee construction. The renovation would create the full-time equivalent of about 50 jobs.

Kim said he was prepared to fund the initial renovation work privately and let tenants fit out individual spaces. A 2008 vision plan for the area unveiled by Mayor Sheila Dixon indicated that up to $2 million in public funds may be available to support the venture.

City officials say they will now review the competing proposals and hope to select one group to move ahead with its project.

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