New Hammerjacks developer offers ambitious plan at Pigtown meeting

  • An exterior shot of the last version of Hammerjacks on Guilford Avenue. It closed in 2006, and was replaced by the now-closed Bourbon Street in 2008.
An exterior shot of the last version of Hammerjacks on Guilford… (Monica Lopossay, Baltimore…)
November 13, 2013|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

Developers of a revived Hammerjacks laid out their plans for a concert venue near M&T Bank Stadium Tuesday night at a community meeting in Pigtown as they court community support.

The new Hammerjacks would be located in the 600 block of W. West St. in what is now parking lot N for Ravens games. The plans call for a 50,000-square-foot, two-story building with a capacity of 2,500 people and a parking garage with 350 spaces, and the developers said it will complement the new Horseshoe casino.

Kevin Butler, a mortgage executive from Anne Arundel County, purchased the Hammerjacks name and trademark in 2009 and has recalled its glory days in the 1980s as a hair-band mecca. But when partner Mark Renbaum asked residents if they remembered the old club, they responded with groans, and he quickly said the new club would have little in common with its predecessor besides its name.

“That was 20 years ago,” Renbaum said. “This concert venue is conceived of as a world-class venue that will attract acts across genres.”

The club, which would technically be located in the Carroll-Camden Industrial Area neighborhood, would occupy space essentially underneath the Russell Street bridge, near the Paradox club and the city fire union hall. But the developers said they see it as an “extension” of a budding entertainment zone with the coming completion of the Horseshoe casino south of the stadium. They said there would be a shuttle bus to the casino, and the plans have the blessing of the Baltimore Ravens.

The area where they want to build Hammerjacks is not zoned for such a project, and Stanley Fine, a lobbyist working with the group, said they will have to get a city council approval to proceed. After that, they need approval from the zoning board. The plan goes before the Planning Commission on Nov. 21.

Fine confirmed that the plan once included a 177-room hotel, but he said that is no longer being considered.

Pigtown residents said they worried about parking and noise. Though the developers said they will plan for sufficient parking, residents said the reality is that many concertgoers will seek parking in the neighborhood. The developers said they want to include a Pigtown resident in their planning deliberations.

The Baltimore Business Journal reported in July that Butler planned to proceed with his plans for the new Hammerjacks. The original Hammerjacks opened in 1977 on South Charles Street, but built its reputation as a must-see venue after it moved to Howard Street. That version of Hammerjacks closed in 1997, and an attempt to revive the club's popularity took place from 2000-2006 on Guilford Avenue.

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