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Latest mega-bar plan has Federal Hill residents saying “enough!”

OPINION: Liquor Board should not green light another big bar on Cross Street.

mega bar site

The proposed beer garden would encompass these four storefronts (12-14-16-18) on East Cross Street.

Photo by: Mark Reutter

That night, the pounding woke me up. As a resident of Federal Hill, it wasn’t unusual: at daybreak on Sundays, we usually hear the chatter of homeless men making their way to the Inner Harbor. In the evenings, we often hear fireworks from the stadium area, or helicopters on the way to Shock Trauma. There are sirens and train whistles and kids playing.

We’re used to it. We love the city, and we love Federal Hill. But this night, I stumbled from bed and pulled the curtains aside. There, beneath the window, was a young woman cursing and kicking the side of my husband’s cheery, bright blue Volkswagen as hard as she could.

When I asked her to stop, she reported a story now familiar to many of us here: She’d been drinking all night at the Federal Hill bars and then had a huge fight with her boyfriend.

“I’m sorry,” she said to me, crying. “I’m just so drunk.”

In the last several years, as many bars in Federal Hill have expanded, these scenes have become routine. Families wake up to find cigarette butts, half-eaten pieces of pizza and other trash on their stoops. Young people leaving the bars urinate and vomit on the sidewalks and streets.

They smash flower pots and steal planters. Fights are frequent. One couple has watched from their South Charles Street home as drunken young men leap from parked car to parked car, as if in a race.

And now exasperated residents are trying to fend off a proposal for yet another large bar: a four-storefront-wide German-style beer garden on East Cross Street.

Plans announced for Crossbar (Crossbar der Biergarten, as they call it on their Facebook page) have mobilized people like nothing else in recent memory.

The propsoed bar would be on the same block of Cross Street as Stalking Horse, Ryleigh's and Spoons. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

The proposed beer garden would be on the same block as Stalking Horse, Ryleigh’s Oyster and Spoons Cafe. Across the street, the city-owned Cross Street Market. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

The Federal Hill Neighborhood Association is leading the opposition, with the support of four other neighborhoods, Federal Hill South, Otterbein, Sharp-Leadenhall, and South Baltimore.

The group’s protest will be heard before the Baltimore City Board of Liquor License Commissioners this Thursday afternoon. More than 450 residents have signed a petition and three dozen have written letters against the proposal. (More details on hearing here.)

Many feel we’ve hit the tipping point on a problem that has been building for a long time.

Getting Around the Restrictions

As far back as 2000, realizing that the number of bars was threatening the quality of life for residents, state legislators had the wisdom to draw a box around the concentration of Federal Hill bars.

They essentially stopped the creation of additional bars by prohibiting new liquor licenses, as well as forbidding licenses to be transferred into the area.

After a Federal Hill weekend, lots of pizza boxes lying around.

After a Federal Hill weekend, lots of pizza boxes lying around. (Photo by Diana K. Sugg)

But the bars were able to work around these restrictions.

Some bought properties next door and expanded into those places. One owner changed his parking lot into an extension of his bar.

So over the last decade, even though the number of liquor licenses in the immediate vicinity of the Cross Street market has stayed the same (34), the capacity of these bars has grown from a maximum of 3,751 potential drinkers in 2003, to 5,025 in 2013 – a 34% increase.

In the old days, the bars in this historic neighborhood were often only one storefront wide. And while some of the current bars are less egregious than others – and several would be welcomed under different circumstances – the combination of bars together has created big problems. There are now 11 bars within one block of the Cross Street Market that have a capacity of more than 150 people.

Promotion companies run pub crawls, including one event on March 9 known as the Irish Stroll. Advertised as “Baltimore’s Longest St. Patty’s Party,” it ran from noon to 9 p.m., and organizers sold 5,000 tickets.

Closing off Cross Street

Yet the narrow streets in Federal Hill have stayed the same. The community doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle thousands of drinkers.

There are actually so many drunken young people that, citing safety reasons, police have long been closing Cross Street at Charles and Light streets every Friday and Saturday night, starting at roughly 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Parking, which was always hard, has gotten even tougher. The sidewalks near these bars are routinely packed with so many young people that some of the older, more frail residents say they’re afraid they’ll be knocked over – and walk in the street instead.

Ed Kelly, who lives on Poultney Street, just behind the part of Cross Street where Ryleigh’s and Stalking Horse are, told a public meeting in April that the rats, noise and stench are so bad he can’t even use the deck of his home.

“I’ve seen many changes in this neighborhood, and many of them have been good,” said Kelly, noting the home has been in his family for more than 100 years. “But it feels like we’re being overwhelmed by bars.”

Loving City Life – Up to a Point

Many look to Fells Point, which had similar problems 15 to 20 years ago, as an example of a city neighborhood that was able to rein in the revelers and make a safer place that ultimately attracted better retail, more families and increased property values.

And it’s still a fun place to go, with plenty of restaurants and bars. That’s why so many people love these communities. I relish walking out my door onto a street of pretty rowhomes and being so close to so much. In just a few minutes, my boys, ages 5 and 7, can be running up the hill to the gorgeous Federal Hill Park, where they’ll always find other kids to play with.

When they were toddlers, we made it to the Science Center almost every day. We can walk to get a haircut, grab a bagel for lunch, buy flowers at the market, or have a great dinner at cozy Regi’s Bistro.

The density means that we bump into neighbors and friends wherever we go.

The South Baltimore area also has a thriving network of more than 1,200 families, many of whom have worked hard to make Federal Hill Prep and Thomas Johnson Elementary schools places that would attract and retain families, something Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has been pushing for.

A Fourth of July event poster advertising a bar crawl from 5 p.m. to midnight.

A Fourth of July event poster advertising a bar crawl from 5 p.m. to midnight.

Increasingly, people in their 20s are moving to Federal Hill, according to numbers from a demographic survey commissioned by Federal Hill Main Street this spring.

While many of these residents are surely going to the bars, several we’ve become friends with have told us they now go to Fells Point bars instead. They report the Federal Hill bars are often overcrowded, with bartenders over-serving obviously drunk people.

Said one young woman who didn’t want to be named for fear of upsetting her friends who work in the bars: “People come here to get wasted.”

Liquor Board Under Scrutiny

For the bar owners, very few of whom live in the neighborhood, the business is lucrative.

One of the owners of Ryleigh’s Oyster, Brian McComas, who is behind the beer garden proposal, reported at a public meeting in April that his place made $3.9 million in sales last year alone.

Even though the bar group, the Federal Hill Hospitality Association, pays for four off-duty police officers to patrol the area on weekend nights, and veterans from the non-profit Baltimore Station to clean Cross Street on weekend mornings, it’s hardly enough to mitigate the problems the bars cause the neighborhood.

The situation has attracted the attention of local politicians. The four elected state representatives in Baltimore’s 46th district, which includes Federal Hill, joined together to write a letter last week to the liquor board.

They recommended that no transfers or expansions of liquor licenses be approved without signed agreements with the affected neighborhood. The letter also calls for more enforcement of the liquor laws.

All this comes at a time when the liquor board is under scrutiny. (The board is a state agency made up of three appointed commissioners and an agency that handles the day-to-day work.)

An independent audit released in March by the state’s Department of Legislative Services found widespread problems in inspections, disciplinary procedures and management.

The audit also found that, in violation of state law, the board allowed many inactive liquor licenses, and licenses that should have expired, to be renewed.

In the case of Crossbar, the Federal Hill neighborhood group is challenging the validity of the license in several ways, including that the passage of time since the bar has been open exceeds the limits set down in the law.

Turning into “The Block”?

Meanwhile, one of the biggest casualties may be Federal Hill’s reputation.

Zelda Zen left Federal Hill in part because of the bar scene and frequent Cross Street closures. (Photo by Diana K. Sugg)

Zelda Zen left Federal Hill in part because of the bar scene and frequent Cross Street closures. (Photo by Diana K. Sugg)

People from other parts of the city who used to dine and shop in Federal Hill have stopped coming because it’s too hard to find parking, and streets are often closed because of bar events and pub crawls.

And after a few bad experiences running into drunken young people, visitors don’t come back.

That means that many shops have closed or moved on to other neighborhoods. The popular Zelda Zen, the gem of Federal Hill, is now in Fells Point, where business has doubled.

Annamarie Christopher, who has run an Italian deli for 12 years near Cross and Light streets, says she doesn’t have the clientele anymore to keep her place going.

“I’ve watched this sophisticated neighborhood turn into ‘The Block,’” said Christopher, referring to Baltimore’s group of strip joints.

Ironically, among the key criteria in the state law that governs liquor licenses are two points: the bar cannot impact the quality of life of the neighborhood – and there must be a proven need for the bar in the community.

In a survey of 542 South Baltimore residents last August, done by the Federal Hill Business Association and Federal Hill Main Street, residents reported needing many businesses such as a bakery, an adult clothing store, more restaurants, a toy store and a grocery store. Getting a new bar was near the bottom of the list. We’re already overwhelmed with the ones we have.

This spring, from my second-story window, I’ve watched four young men, drunk and fighting over money in the middle of the intersection of William Street and Warren Avenue. A drunk driver careening through the neighborhood rammed a parked car, smashing it into a tree.

Intoxicated young girls, who said they weren’t from Federal Hill, were swinging on the white lights we put up for a sidewalk party. They ripped them down, broke our lamppost and giggled all the way out of the neighborhood.

“There’s no way you can have that many young people drinking that much and not have something bad happen,” said Courtney McConnell, a 23-year-old who bought her first home in Federal Hill six months ago, before she realized that the bar scene here was so out of control.

For her, a four-block walk to the CVS drugstore at night is like a running a gauntlet, between the guys hooting at her from the sidewalks and fights in the parking lot of the nearby furniture store.

Some residents, who are quite close to the bar scene and can’t take it anymore, have already decided to move. Real estate agents and residents report that other owners are increasingly renting their homes. Others are trying to fight for a place we love.

Rosalie McCabe is one of many residents who believe that – with help from the city and state – the balance between bars and residents in Federal Hill can be restored.

She and her husband have lived here for 26 years and raised their son here. She’s a classic city dweller who loves walking to the stadiums for Ravens and Orioles games, going out to neighborhood restaurants, and savoring a glass of wine on her stoop. She started the neighborhood’s 4th of July parade, which has become a cherished ritual for hundreds of families.

When I ran into her a few weeks ago on the street, she had petitions under her arm and a determined look in her eyes. Said McCabe: “We have to take back the neighborhood.”
_____________________________

Diana K. Sugg is a freelance writer living in Federal Hill. She is raising two young sons and volunteering on the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association’s liquor advisory committee. For 10 years, she was a reporter at The Baltimore Sun, where she won the Pulitzer Prize for beat reporting.

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  • Rob Valcich

    Personally, I think the problems have more to do with the clientele than the capacity. When I lived in Federal Hill from about 2003-2006, the crowd was older and more chill. The riffraff and craziness seemed to take place across the pond in Fell’s Point. Now it seems they have swapped identities. The early 20′s crowd seems to migrate towards “The Hill” for Jager Bombs and pretty much anything with Red Bull in it. To be fair, the bars in that area have catered to this crowd. After all, they probably make a lot more money selling bombs (of any sort) for $8 a piece than they do selling a nice pint of local brew for $4. You know you’re in trouble when the area’s nicest oyster bar clears the tables at 10pm for Dance Party USA.

  • annon

    These videos are from playoff/superbowl wins. Very misleading.

  • janjamm

    You might want to plug into this issue the failures, recently detailed in a state audit, of the Liquor Control Board for the last decade. There is really no one in charge.

  • Katie

    I don’t think the videos in this article really represent the usual scene in federal hill….most of those are from after the ravens won in the playoffs or superbowl, and that is probably going to happen anywhere where there is a large concentration of bars/people watching big football games. I’m not disagreeing that federal hill bars have become unbearable (I personally avoid most bars in federal hill like the plague)…but those videos really are the absolute extreme.

    • Wally Pinkard

      I think the same thing happened in Fells Point when the Ravens won the SuperBowl

  • Araminta Ross

    What would we be without the riff raff? I mean progress is good, but we can’t loose our identity.

  • Liz

    I used to go to Fed Hill when i was first out of college, but after I hit 25 I already felt “too old” to be there. Now at 28, having been out in Fed Hill this past Saturday for the first time in probably 2 years (minus some Ravens post game fun) I can defiantly see how much worse it has become.. Sure everyone wants to let lose and have fun, but going into a sweaty bar, music so loud I can not hear anyone speak, sloppy makes outs on the dance floor, the bar near capacity and waiting 20 min for a drink…no thanks Fed Hill i’ll stick to Fells and Canton.

    I also have to say, while 22 yr olds may shell over $8 for a bomb, they usually don’t spend a ton of money on food and tend to order rail (cheap) drinks, and natty lights (I mean i certainly did!)… Many nights I easily spend $100 in Fells/Canton between eating and cocktails…just saying.

    P.S. I LOVE beer gardens, but I doubt I would ever make the effort to go to Fed Hill to frequent one, New Idea: open the beer garden in Fells or Canton!

    • King in the North

      You sound incredibly lame. I’m the same age as you but I prefer to live in SoBo for proximity to work, friends, and family. There’s plenty to do in Federal Hill for the older crowd. At the rate you’re going, you are going to moving into a retirement home at 35.

      • Liz

        Wow you are incredibly lame. I have plenty to do in Canton/Fells and go out till 2am most weekend nights, late night till 5am and rage out all of the time. My point was that the majority of Fed Hill bars are so over crowded, you cant get a drink, everyone is all sweaty and its one giant top 40′s dance party that more resembles ppl seizuring bc they can’t stand up. Sorry I don’t like to spend $15 cab ride to come to this poor excuse for an area, when Canton/Fells have plenty of awesome bars that are not filled with underage/21 yr old douches. Fed Hill isn’t doing itself any favors by continuing to let itself be taken over by the under 25 crowd who don;t give a sh*t about throwing trash on the streets, screaming nonsense at 3 am in people neighborhoods and passing out on their front stoops. Growing up doesnt mean growing old.

        • King in the North

          There are plenty of bars in Federal Hill that are not what you describe, so maybe stop somewhere other than Mad River the next time you come to our side of town. The new bar isn’t meant to cater to the $2 natty drinkers. One more bar isn’t going to make a lick of difference in the grand scheme of things. All I hear from you is just another whiney 20-something who talks about how Fells and Canton are “better” or more “mature”. Ok, well you go be a grown-up in Canton/Fells and leave the Federal Hill neighborhood to decide it’s own business. Like I said before, I have no reason to move.

        • Steve

          Amen, Liz,

          I am 27 and echo your sentiments on the Fed Hill neighborhood. I do however, think my general feelings on the neighborhood are a little off topic to this particular development.

          This seems to be a creative use that I would like to see implemented. I think the Standard in New York serves as an excellent example of this type of establishment, located in a hotel and under the High Line.

          I think that the neighborhood is correct to request that the developer further elaborate on his vision. At the very the pressure will help to ensure that it is implemented in a first-class fashion, where it could provide an interesting alternative in the neighborhood.

  • spolinik

    I just recently moved from Federal Hill to Butcher’s Hill for precisely the reasons mentioned in this article. I lived on Cross Street, less than a block from the main strip, with my second-floor bedroom windows fronting the street. I used to joke with my friends that I’ve heard so many drunk couples arguing at 2AM that I could tell what kind of alcohol they were drinking by the nature of the argument. I may joke, but it was just that kind of thing that made me realize it wasn’t the right part of the city for me. Plus, the amount of 711 pizza boxes on the sidewalks….unbelieveable.
    I lived in Fells about 8 years ago when I first graduated from college, left a couple years later, and returned to Baltimore last year. It seems in the time I was gone, Federal Hill went from a great bar-hopping option to not even on the radar. The reputation is this: Federal Hill is where college kids go to get wasted. There isn’t much of an interesting scene there anymore, except for the market building, and a handful of the smaller bars. It feels like all the local colleges threw up their graduating classes onto Cross Street. It’s been one giant puke-fest since.

  • Jane

    Perhaps the liquor board could focus on stopping the bars from clearly over serving the majority of their patrons. That might help prevent the young bar goers from forgetting their manners when walking around South Baltimore.

    • Jay

      Yes, tell businesses to purposely withhold sales and turn away customers who are, literally, throwing money at them.

      sarcasm.jpg

  • Gerald Neily

    Here’s the solution: Remake Camden Yards into an entertainment district to accommodate mega-bars. Remember when Hammerjacks was there until it was knocked down for stadium parking? It worked fine. The new casino would be a perfect opportunity to rekindle such a transformation, but despite their talk of creating an urban scene to distinguish their casino from Arundel Mills, they really just want their customers to stay inside the gambling palace without any other entertainment options.

    The casino’s first step was to eliminate waterfront development plans along the Middle Branch, using the area instead for a gigantic parking garage and a permanent replacement for the absurdly located Greyhound Bus station. Their second step will be to close Warner Street. The cancellation of Turner’s Westport development also reinforces their goals. And as usual, the City just abandons its Middle Branch plan and goes along for the ride.

  • Matthew Riesner

    People who moved to/live in Federal Hill chose to live in a drinking district. It was a drinking district longer than most of them have been alive. Now, since they
    bought homes in Fed Hill during the boom that they cannot sell because they owe
    more than what it’s worth and are over the bar scene, they now want the
    character of the neighborhood to change. This should be a lesson to folks that
    you should choose a place to buy that you can live with what goes on there
    years down the road.

  • asteroid_B612

    Fells Point was overrun in a similar vein 15 years ago, and got a lot better once Canton Square was developed. Prior to that, there were just too many people coming to too small of an area — Canton made Fells Point tolerable again.

    Mr. Neily is correct that that siphoning off patrons to a new entertainment district around Camden yards would be a perfect relief valve for the Cross Street area. The fact that the the idea makes sense means that it probably won’t happen.

    The article also brings to mind the neighborhood association’s unwarranted persecution of the bar on Charles Street with the Magic Show, whose patrons were causing no harm at all. Rather than pick its battles, it squandered a lot of its credibility trying to close the place down.

  • Tom

    This is horrible.

    1. Baltimore Brew: if you’re going to take an opinion piece from someone who volunteers for the organization who most actively working against this bar (in this case, the FHNA), tell the reader up front. As a regular reader of this blog, that’s insulting.

    1a. Allowing videos of the post-Super Bowl victory is wrong and misleading. This is not representative of a typical night in Federal Hill. I’m disappointed in Baltimore Brew here, too.

    2. If you’re going to report the cons, talk about the pros, too. The three rowhomes that Crossbar will replace have been vacants for the last 4+ years, some of the only vacants in Federal Hill.

    3. McComas has said repeatedly that this will be a bar for good food and craft beers. This opinion piece fails to mention that.

    4. “Courtney McConnell, a 23-year-old who bought her first home in Federal Hill six months ago, before she realized that the bar scene here was so out of control.” – You interviewed a woman who didn’t do enough research before BUYING a house to know what a neighborhood is like? Not a good source (or a smart one).

    5. Zelda Zen, a “gem”, moved because they couldn’t attract business. I’m glad to hear they have found success in Fells Point. The Italian spot obviously couldn’t compete with the other excellent lunch options in the immediate area (Cross St. Market, Elvis’, Kabob House).

    6. The reason why parking is difficult in the neighborhood is because people with jobs and cars move to the neighborhood. Parking is difficult on Monday nights AND weekend nights. Shutting down Cross St. on the weekend eliminates about 20 spaces.

    7. Saying that some of your 20-something neighbors and friends that live in Federal Hill go to Fell’s Point instead is anecdotal at best. This is from a Pulitzer Prize winner?

    I expect better from a blog like the Baltimore Brew.

    • King in the North

      Thank you for a well-reasoned rebuttal. There is more to Federal Hill than the bars at Cross Street. Anyone who moves within a few block vicinity of that area should understand it is a nightlife hot-spot. This article is nothing more than opinionated hyperbole.

      As someone who lives a block away and suffers the ill effects of the debauchery from time to time my position is that this place won’t make a lick of a difference in the grand scheme of things. I am actually looking forward to the beer-garden, what else would you put in those vacant row homes?

      I hope The Brew lets someone officially rebuke this emotionally driven article.

      • Tom Gregory

        KIng,
        Tagline clearly indicates that Sugg’s piece is purely opinion. The Brew added the video links, not Sugg. The links have since been removed. I provided a Sunpaper’s non-Raven game video link in my response to Tom above. A recent Fern Chen article confirms the Brew invited McComas to respond.

    • Tom Gregory

      Tom,
      I have to agree. The videos showing Federal Hill the bar scene after a Raven’s game is one-sided. There is, however, one infamous video shot in 2010 by Sunpapers reporter Justin Fenton. He was tagging along with City Council President Jack Young on a “normal” night in da hood.

      The Midnight Sun column makes reference to it but the link to the video is faulty:
      http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/midnight_sun/blog/2010/04/city_council_president_tours_f.html

      I did find the video link here near the bottom of the page:
      http://www.examiner.com/article/why-is-jack-young-bothering-federal-hill-residents

      Even with this video evidence nothing was ever done to curb the behavior. Two years latter it worse.

    • Courtney Mc

      Tom,
      While your concern is duly noted, I felt the need to divulge a bit of background. Being born and raised in Baltimore, I looked forward to moving to Fed Hill after graduating college, as did many of my friends. However, in2011, I was the victim of a random assault for a gang initiation at a bar in Harrisburg with a similar theme, drink special layout and clientele as the proposed Cross Bar. Long story short, I was very, very badly injured and have never fully recovered. My full concern is for the safety of women in the neighborhood. I anticipated lots of people my age having a good time on weekends when I moved here; what I didn’t anticipate were men fighting in the streets, women being drugged and taken from bars, a constant stream of kids vomiting on people’s homes and vehicles, etc. I love my home, I love federal hill, and anyone who lives here can tell you that owning property here, if you’re in a place in life where you can sit on it for a few years, is never a bad idea. In the mean time, of course I would want the area I live in to become safer. Wouldn’t anyone?

      Sincerely,
      Courtney McConnell

      Also, Zelda Zen is a jewelry store, a very beautiful one.

      • Brandon Mead

        Hold on, let me get this straight, since you were assaulted by gang members in Harrisburg at a German style bier garten, you’re against this one? That’s some of the worst logic I’ve ever come across. Maybe it’s the same logic that led you to buy a house in an area without actually doing research. I’ve lived here for ten years, homeowner for 7 of those years, and I have rarely ever had a problem, because I made sure I bought several blocks from Cross St.

  • Riverside

    It seems like most of the issues are voiced by the “I came here out of college for the scene and now I’ve outgrown the scene…” residents. I can’t be sympathetic, because that’s part of why I chose to live here. Once I decide that I too have outgrown the scene, I’ll either rent my house or sell it. I won’t try to change the area just because I feel like I’m too mature for the way it was when I got here.

    • ericcostello

      Riverside, that isn’t true. Most of the active residents in our opposition are in their 40s and 50s. In addition, a recent study commissioned by Federal Hill Main Street (http://www.historicfederalhill.org/images/user/FHMS%20Final%20Report%202013,%20no%20app.pdf) indicates that the largest increase in demographic from 2000 – 2010 occurred in the 20 – 29 year old group, representing nearly 34% of all residents in 2010, compared to just 20% in 2000.

    • Brandon Mead

      I never understand people that complain about situations that were here before them, especially when it’s something that probably prompted them to move here in the first place. Most of my friends rented in Fed Hill because of the bars, fell in love with the whole community, then bought their own home, then fell in love with someone, and have now started a family here. To then get upset about the very thing that brought all of that together is mind boggling.

    • green lisa

      When I moved into the Riverside neighborhood the bars were quiet neighborhood places. The owners swept the sidewalks in the morning. Their patrons were respectful of their neighbors. The bars have now changed hands. I am often cursed at when I ask the people who congregate under my window late at night (even weeknights) to quiet down. They are what I consider frat boy-types. I don’t even think that most of them live in the neighborhood. They come to Riverside in order to behave badly on somebody else’s sidewalk. They leave bottles and beer glasses on my front porch. They toss cigarette butts everywhere. They use the F-word a lot, multiple times in every sentence. I sometimes am tempted to hand them a dictionary through the window so that they can diversify their vocabulary choices. It gets dreary listening to it…which I am forced to do at all hours. This is not what city life can be.

      • Brandon Mead

        What bars are you taking about in Riverside??

  • MC

    We have a problem in Baltimore addressing quality of life issues. It’s one thing to have a neighborhood full of bars and restaurants (a “drinking district”), but quite another to allow vomiting, fighting and trashing the place every weekend. We have the same issues, on a smaller scale, near Hopkins. There are plenty of examples of vibrant, exciting neighborhoods which prove it can work. Set reasonable standards, hold individuals and businesses accountable, word gets out quickly. Of course this would require a capable liquor board and effective city government…

    • snarkycomments

      Near Hopkins? Where? There’s about 3 bars in all of Charles Village?

  • ericcostello

    While this does not reflect the official view of Federal Hill Neighborhood Association (FHNA) as the lead in opposing this effort, this op-ed is well-written and articulated and does a good job of describing some of the quality of life issues that I hear about everyday. Re: Tom’s original post, on point 2, Mr. McComas and his group have sat on this license and properties for nearly 4 years now; point 6, there is a parking crisis because we have a ratio of 3:1 decals and visitors permits in Area 9 and 30 (5700 vehicles to 1900 on street spaces) and when you add a sum max capacity of 5000 liquor license patrons, that can significantly increase the load on parking, re: point 1a, I agree, this is not typical. -Eric Costello, President, FHNA

    • Tom

      Thanks for your response, Eric. Where was the FHNA’s voice while McComas let those properties sit for so long? Now that they’re actually moving forward with a business, you speak up?

      As far as 5000 patrons, can you work with Baltimore City to step up ticketing in Area 9, 19, and 30 parking areas to drive these folks to the garages in the area?

      • ericcostello

        Tom, as a member of the Advisory Board to the Parking Authority of BC, it is something that I respectfully bring up at each bi-monthly mtg to DOT traffic enforcement. Part of the problem lies in the fact that DOT is responsible for enforcement and PABC is responsible for Parking. In addition, their systems don’t communicate well, and until an upgrade of RFID chips occurs and is implemented in passes, the citation process is a bit onerous. You can see all the things we are working on for parking here: http://federalhillbaltimore.org/committees/parking/ (see the parking minutes from January, just so you know we aren’t sleeping on the job).

      • ericcostello

        As for McComas and the four buildings, that certainly precedes my term, not that that excuses us. That is part of the reason our attorney has advised us to challenge the validity of the license.

      • Whatsaquokka18

        Yes Please! The biggest problem is the RPP only areas are not enforced!

      • http://facebook.com/elliottplack Elliott Plack

        I’ve gotten a ticket for violating the RPP. $52 I believe. I misread the sign, but never again. I don’t know how many parking officers the city has, but they are definitely ticketing people (like me).

    • Brandon Mead

      These associations represent a VERY small segment of the residents of Federal Hill. Every single person I’ve actually talked to is all for this. What’s better, empty store fronts for vagrants to lurk in, or a quality establishment serving amazing food (if it’s anything like Ryleigh’s)… The associations that “represent” my and my families interests on this are way off base.

  • Brittany Whiteford

    If the home owners are so disturbed by the scene here, they should look to move farther out into the Riverside/Locust Point area or even out of the city. The price you pay for the convenience of having bars, shops, and restaurants right at your fingertips is the possible weekend/nightly consequences of that real estate.

    It doesn’t justify the behavior (although i agree with the sentiment on this comment thread that these videos demonstrate an extreme…) but Federal Hill never has been – and likely wont ever be – a sleepy neighborhood.

    • Tom Gregory

      Not so Brittany. Fed Hill was a quite, little happy village. The 80s and 90s were very quiet in Fed Hill. Some of us have lived here since the 1970′s and yes, I know, that makes me “old and in the way” of progress.

      Jumping ahead to today, the liquor license issue before us is minor compared the major issue of how “business” is actually conducted in the City and the State.

      Thursday’s hearing will be rigged with ties extending back to the State House. Anyone who gets in the way of the mayor’s and city council’s cash cows will be politically and personally destroyed. For the concerned city residents it’s more akin to calves being led to slaughter.

      Aside from Divine Intervention or a federal investigation, it’s business as usual in Charm City.

    • Andrew

      Sleepy, probably never again. But there are certain norms that it has gone way beyond. Once a neighborhood has become the healthy, safe nesting place of families, new rules and standards apply. Powerplant should be the only place such ridiculous drunken behavior should be allowed. It is downright hateful of you to voice the thought that “If the home owners are so disturbed by the scene here, they should look to move farther out into the Riverside/Locust Point area or even out of the city.” You should be ashamed of yourself as indeed your mother would be. Everybody should get up and leave so visitors can have drunken orgies? No neighborhood is yours to trash.

    • green lisa

      I live in Riverside and unfortunately the “scene” is moving my way. I have been told the same thing by countless drunken bar patrons who congregate under my windows late at night…even on weeknights. When I ask them to quiet down, they respond, “Why don’t you just move? Why do you live next to a bar” They usually curse at me as well.
      Well, I was here first. When I moved into the neighborhood the bars were patronized by older and quieter people. They lived in the neighborhood and felt a sense of responsibility to it. The bars changed hands, and most of them now cater to frat-boy types. I can’t even begin to describe the anti-social behaviors that I have witnessed. I find it funny that people describe it as a “scene.” If it is a “scene,” it is a scene of vomiting, profanity, fighting, and spewing of trash.

  • Whatsaquokka18

    I like the idea of a german-style biergarten- I would live half a block from it. However, parking and crowd issues need to be addressed and put in place *before* building another bar (slant parking, more residential permitted parking enoforced, no more port-a-potties in the street by MaGerk’s)

    • ericcostello

      And that is exactly a large part of the neighborhood’s position. We have exceeded a critical mass of liquor license patrons in our n’hood, and until the impacts of these patrons are adequately mitigated once they leave the immediate area of Cross and S. Charles (see recent letter from the 46th Delegation outlining this issue: http://federalhillbaltimore.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/FINAL-Fed-Hill-License-Saturation-Letter-061713.pdf), it would be irresponsible of the n’hood to support the creation of additional drinking space.

      • King in the North

        When you say impacts of these patrons, I assume you mean things such as:

        1. Availability of parking
        2. Disturbances (late night noise)
        3. Trash on the sidewalks/streets

        Are there any other major ones that I’m missing? Has the FHNA or any other group, such as bar owners, proposed a reasonable mitigation strategy?

  • Ravenator

    As a 30 year old homeowner in Fed Hill, I have to say this is some of the most irresponsible reporting from a “Pulitzer Prize Winner”. To post pictures and videos from a Super Bowl celebration, and depict that as the norm, is the equivalent of CNN’s coverage of the Boston Bombing. Why doesn’t she post pictures from the late 80′s and early 90′s of what the Federal Hill homes used to look like, and take pictures of the then Pig-Towners that called SOBO home? Without Cross St., and the other alluring draws of Fed Hill, the homes would not be valued over 100k, and we would be seeing Fed Hill showing up on the “Shot Map” of events that took place this past weekend. This author should be ashamed….

  • James Hunt

    Ravenator wrote: ” … Why doesn’t she post pictures from the late 80′s and early 90′s of what the Federal Hill homes used to look like, and take pictures of the then Pig-Towners that called SOBO home? …”
    +++++++++++++++++++
    Most of the neighborhood looked pretty good then (back when you were, what? five years old?). In fact, even when the highway planners threatened its demolition, most of the Fed Hill neighborhood was still “Little Italy solid,” though not as polished many parts are today. It never looked too slummy.

    • Ravenator

      Well Old Timer, when I use this neat tool called the ‘Internet’, I look up my home near the park (South Baltimore) it was worth around $50,000 in 1999 (not even 1/6 current value). Thanks to the popularity of those bars, the real estate market expanded further to the edges of Fed Hill, creating better home values further towards Locust Point. Some neighbors have been there that long, and rave about how much nicer and safer it is. Stop thinking about your bubble, and understand the whole area benefits from that stretch of bars and restaurants…

      • asteroid_B612

        I remember Federal Hill in the 90s as a bar patron. Going to the 8 x 10 a lot to see live music that wasn’t jam bands, Turners had a cool juke box with lots of obscure 60s tunes, Sisson’s was Maryland’s first brew pub, Mum’s was a cool scene with pool, a great juke box, and live music. The area was popular, but not overcrowded. It was reasonably safe, and you could afford to buy a house even if you weren’t a wealthy white college graduate Fells Point was the same way. Yeah, you had drunk college students there, too, but there was a little bit more edge and funkiness to the area.

        @Ravenator — The Super Bowl videos do have that irrelevant propaganda feel to them. But I’m not sure what your obsession with property values is all about, I’m guessing you must be a realtor or a mortgage broker who works on commission. Having a cool, liveable neighborhood with a wide variety of people is the goal. All the high property values do is make the area unaffordable and send lots of tax $$$$ to the corrupt city government.

        • baltimorebrew

          Putting those post-Ravens game videos in wasn’t the author’s call, it was mine – and they were not on point, I agree. We took em out.
          -f.s.

        • Ravenator

          Couldn’t be further off, and my career has nothing to do with real-estate and is not commission fueled.. $$$ is what makes the world go round, and a home is an investment. I guess my parents did a good job teaching me how to value the $, and research my investments (something other posters seem to not have done) — which lead me to Fed Hill, college drunks and all. When is the last time somebody said “I don’t care if my home loses value and I am underwater, as long as there are cool people and the neighborhood is liveable”? The taxes in Baltimore, and the corruption in the city should be a whole different blog post…

          • rkolberg

            By any chance, Ravenator, did Mommy and Daddy happen to given you the downpayment for your palace in South Baltimore–oh, excuse me, “Fed Hill”?

            And, if a house is really an investment, I’m betting our ROI on a S. Charles St. row house purchased for $27,500 in 1986 and lovingly lived in for two decades w/o major renovation was a heck of a lot better than yours will ever be. Plus we got the bonus of living along side real South Baltimore folks–the best neighbors ever, bar none.

      • James Hunt

        Golly, you’re terribly clever (” … I use this neat tool called the ‘Internet’” …) but not much of a reader. You made a dismissive remark about Fed Hill and the people who lived there prior to the arrival of your fine self, and got called on it. Own it, ya yuppie snob! (And, yeah, we all know about the SDAT’s web site, not to mention Zillow, etc. and we’re very excited that your property has benefited from the real estate bubble. Do be a luvvie and post the sale price when you move on …)

  • Blerg!

    It’s the very trendiness of Fed Hill that drew you there in there in the first place. And now that you are ensconced in the area, all of the new people are the arrivistas and ruining what brought you there to begin with.

    I’m sure you’ll be glad to give back your paper wealth for your homes that have shot up in value, right?

  • Lew

    Really? Take back the neighborhood? C’mon, I find it funny that people are all up in arms over a bar but didn’t whine at all when all the “mega” apartment buildings were being propped up on Light st and Wells and over at McHenry Row (want to know why parking is more difficult start there). Where do you think those people go to have a drink? Curious on why there’s more people in Federal Hill now than back in 2003..maybe because more people live in Federal Hill now? One bar isn’t going to bring the neighborhood down. If anything it’ll probably lighten the load of the other bars in the neighborhood.

  • Kristen

    People who live in urban areas have every right to want to live in a neighborhood where common courtesy is a given. Baltimore should absolutely strive to be a place where people can have their fun, but residents can also live with some measure of peace. The people who are concerned about their quality of life are reasonable people who accept the fact and even like that they live near bars, and that there is some amount of noise that goes with it, but there has to be a limit. As a resident of South Baltimore, I used to love shopping in Federal Hill, but the number of stores has dwindled, seemingly as the number of bars had increased. In order to stay healthy and serve a variety of people, every business district needs a variety of stores, restaurants, and bars – not just bars.

    Lew – the “mega” apartment building brings tax paying residents to the community, as well as a cutting edge tech incubator and a parking garage to address parking needs… which is vastly different than a new bar. there is no comparison.

  • exspworker

    The area that I live has had a similar problem. Its not necessarily the bars but some of the patrons attitudes. The bars are there for the public to enjoy but that doesn’t mean that you can come in to someones neighborhood and totally disregard the fact that there are peoples homes nearby. Some of these people have developed the attitude that because its a bar and people drink then they can act however they choose and if it is disruptive then the homeowners should move. Since there are more homeowners than bars that really doesn’t work out well for the bars.
    The bar patrons have a right to go where they choose but please have some respect for where you are.

  • Kryptaku

    “I’ve watched this sophisticated neighborhood turn into ‘The Block,’” said Christopher, referring to Baltimore’s group of strip joints.

    This is extreme hyperbole, pure and simple, and statements like this hurt any realistic argument against all the bars in the area. Anyone comparing Cross Street at night with The Block has never been to The Block.

    • Tom Gregory

      Kryptaku,
      Agreed, but it’s not too far fetched. All the pieces are in place. Once the casino is up and running all of the bars in the “Entertainment Zone” will apply for a 4:00 am license. Taking their orders from politicians, the Liquor Board will rubber stamp that. Two recent Baltimore legal rulings determined that city homeowners have “no standing” in their neighborhoods. This, of course, violates state law, but the city decisions were allowed to stand. The new Baltimore master zoning plan allows for “spot” zoning. Now that home owning tax payers have no standing, any entrepreneur willing to pay to play can stick their business plan in the middle of a residential block. I’m hoping the proposed pit bull training kennel for Federal Hill is not in my block….j/k

  • Gerald Neily

    I appreciate zeum digging out my 2010 Brew article about Camden Yards development – http://www.baltimorebrew.com/2010/12/03/arena/ – since I’ve raised the same issues here.

    Now the Caesar’s Casino is under construction there, which deals with all the area’s attributes – good and bad – like access, interaction with the stadiums, and the urban surroundings, which zeum has just discussed.

    I don’t like the way the casino has dealt with these, which I critiqued in a more recent Brew article from last year – http://www.baltimorebrew.com/2012/09/19/how-to-fit-the-proposed-casino-into-baltimores-downtown-landscape/

    Three takeaways: 1 – With the casino, the City is now violating its own Middle Branch plan. 2 – Development in that area is not being allowed to grow organically. 3 – As Asteroid just said here, “Camden yards would be a perfect relief valve for the Cross Street area.” since Cross Street is already acting as a “relief valve” for Camden Yards.

  • Beth Hawks

    I want to speak out as the owner of ZELDA ZEN. I HUNG IN there as long as I could…11 years. So, Tom…….(see comments below) I did not relocate my business because I could not attract customers.Shame on YOU!!! I had (have) a thriving business, one which allowed me to purchase my commercial property & renovate a home in the city………….I “BELIEVED” in this city & in the Federal Hill community……I walked the walk, not just talked the talk. My motto for the city is, “they’re NOT COMING, you’re it!!! Pick up a broom, clean up your streets, meet your neighbors & build a strong community!!” Hon’s……I was out there e-v-e-r-y day cleaning, hosing, planting flowers not just in front of my property but all the way too Poultney Street (in front of the nasty 7-11) all the way down too Spoon’s most days.
    I prayed that it would catch on……but it never did. The area is filthy & needs a lot of TLC………….I always said families & children(yes, that includes the students at Digital Harbor) walking to school did not deserve too walk through broken glass, strewn pizza boxes & vomit.
    The #1 reason I saw a huge downturn in business was the PARKING METER RATES. Federal Hill has the MOST EXPENSIVE RATES IN THE ENTIRE CITY with the lowest amount of time & the MOST AGGRESSIVE meter maids.
    $2.00 per hour, 2 hour maximum. A customer coming into the area cannot get their hair done, for example, grab a bite to eat & do a little shopping without getting a ticket! They MUST move their vehicle OFF that street, NOT just pay more for another pay meter ticket………also, the city has just raised the rates in the West Street Garage & the other garages in the area charge exorbitant rates so their tenants have relocated their cars to West Street & several garages are sitting empty!!! Recently there was a petition with OVER 1,500 signatures handed to Councilman Cole & the parking Authority…& it fell on deaf ears! Nothing was done………we have been discussing parking for years & it’s only getting worse, not better.
    How fair is the parking rates throughout the city?
    CANTON: $0.00
    HAMPDEN: .50 per hour
    HARBOR EAST: $2.00 per hour, 4 hour maximum (which helps drastically!)

    I want to challenge anyone of you that commented that the homeowners should MOVE…….this is their neighborhood first & foremost NOT AN ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT……it is our privilege too have a business there, not our “right!” The majority of bar owners LIVE in the county…not in the city!!! They get too leave at 2AM………& do not have to see the mess/vandalism in the morning.
    I for one love & appreciate ALL of the homeowners & renters…who choose to make the area communities HOME….Federal Hill, Federal Hill South, SBNA, Sharp Leadenhall, Otterbein, Locust Point, Riverside…..it is a wonderful area with INCREDIBLE FAMILIES, who want to raise their families IN the city………………..who just want a “balance,” not a landslide.

    Also,please know that I personally care for Brian McComas, Josh Foti & Brett Austin & know that these guys will build a “quality” restaurant/venue…………..Ryleigh’s is a perfect example. The food is delicious, the restaurant is beautiful……….but the area needs & deserves” balance,” not just another spot for a pub crawl. You’re better than that & so is the Federal Hill community!!!

    So………I pray it can all work out. Love too you all…..Thank YOU Diana Suggs for a wonderful, truthful article!!! The dialect is open…..& tomorrow is the hearing, so lets see what happens.
    xo!

    PLEASE SHOP LOCAL.
    SUPPORT AN INDEPENDENTLY OWNED brick & mortar stores, restaurants, cafes & yes…….. bar’s…..today!!!
    You still have great businesses in Federal Hill……Brightside Boutique, Crystal Moll Gallery, Mark Cottman, Apothacary Wellness, Cheese Galore & More, Big Jim’s Deli, Shofer’s, Kim’s Day Spa, Light Street Cycle….just too name a few!!

    Zelda Zen
    1634 Thames Street
    Fells Point

    • Matthew Riesner

      $2.00/hour is a ridiculous rate for street parking, especially since those fancy meters don’t accept dollar bills (why would I want to use a credit card for paying a meter)…8 quarters for an hour…do I look like I just came from a laundromat. The parking restrictions in Fed Hill are so bad I don’t even want to visit people there. They can tow you if there is a stadium event… how the hell am I supposed to know when there is a random stadium event…when I’m not at the stadium?

      • snarkycomments

        You can park anywhere from Penn Station all the way down St. Paul and grab the Circulator. That’s the only way I’ll ever visit Federal Hill at this point. I love that service. I just wish it went all the way to Hopkins.

        • Andrew

          Seriously?

        • Matthew Riesner

          I don’t know about you but I’m not taking multiple forms of transportation to get somewhere in a relatively short distance. Circulator is ok but to park and then use the circulator seems like an inefficient use of time.

    • Tom Gregory

      There will be more and perhaps less expensive parking once the high rollers persuade the city fathers to demolish the Cross Street Market.

    • Andrew

      Amen, Zelda.

    • http://jasonbarone.com/ Jason Barone

      This is the best comment in the thread.

  • C.W.K.

    The Patterson Park neighborhood would love to have the beer garden if it doesn’t work out in Fed Hill.

    • snarkycomments

      I vote for Charles Village.

  • Fed Hillitzer

    Facts-

    1- Federal Hill has grown tremendously over the last decade and a half for multiple reasons. To include- Bars and Restaurants, The Ravens and Orioles Stadiums, proximity to mass transit, city venues, waterfront access and its overall appeal as a cool hip neighborhood. Heck the unofficial tagline is Historically Hip Federal Hill if I am not mistaken!

    2- Pulitzer Sugg comments on a survey last Fall completed by the FHNA and FHBA…FACT- The residents berated the Cross Street Market and its lack of quality businesses, its very obvious the neighborhood at large does not support the market which is why it looks almost as bad as the dilapidated buildings being “re-built” (Market=Lipstick on a pig) and thus it will either close or be demolished in the next 10 years by a private developer. Remember you hear it here first!

    3- The FHHA was organized to promote the bars and restaurants of Federal Hill. Don’t be a hater because they are winning. I mean if they were losing we wouldn’t be talking about any of this.

    4- While I do not personally enjoy all of the frat bars and Megabars being trashed, it would be naive to think that all of their patrons are from ELSEWHERE and NOT some of your very own neighbors. When is the last time you have squared up those problems/people?

    5- All of this talk about a Crossbar and MEGABAR is all hysteria. I took their advice and looked at some of the establishments in other cities. They are cutting edge and WE all would be proud to have another MODERN DAY concept that works in our neighborhood. Heck who knows maybe if some of the protesters actually enjoyed some of these venues then maybe others would identify another demographic to turn too!

    6- The people complaining had the opportunity to buy each and every one of these properties according to the data. If you want a bakery, buy a building and open one up. If you want a wine bar, have at it. If you don’t have the money or enough nerve to take a risk then well…enough said. *Please remember that there have been several ADULT locations NOT supported by most of the same protesters and some still hanging on that will not make it much longer. FYI- There was a bakery… Muhly’s (now Mother’s) there was a there is a Coffee Shop that closes at like 3 or 4 everyday for whatever reason. Perhaps more people in the neighborhood should go there instead of Starbucks? The point here is…most people making comments about what SHOULD be in Federal Hill are not business people or they wouldn’t make the silly comments they do in the first place. Highest and best use is the only Math one needs to know. Its what is occurring in Federal Hill and its what happens everywhere.

    7- Pulitzer Sugg was unfair in trying to create hysteria by talking about pub crawls or other sponsored events and street closures. The fact is…after doing a little bit of research…the events directly impact the neighborhood financially and programs across the board to include the Senior Center, Federal Hill Thinking Green, The Baltimore Station and a strong commitment to the BPD to help w/ neighborhood security. Most if not ALL would not be possible were it not for the FHHA and some of its so called mega bar members.

    8- Lets talk capacity of the neighborhood drinking establishments. I had no idea until this article that it had grown so much. However with over 15,000 homes in South Baltimore, and a density changing monthly via new projects, I do not understand how one would think that opening new venues does not make sense. between 1111 Light, 1901 Wells, newly approved townhomes and the Mayor’s call for 10,000 new families (that was politically correct by the way…she means MORE people period) where are they suppose to go?

    9- These comments about what Federal Hill “use to look like” are well… ridiculous. I moved to the area in 1995. Pre-Mother’s, Pre-Stadium and I can tell you that it was not a thing of beauty. It was seedy in most areas, more vacants than even in Fells Point today (which btw…if the chimers on this loop looked at Fells on the whole…NOT just Thames which is an absolute TOURIST ZONE like Annapolis, they would see its not all roses) and it was just beginning to be an attractive place to live for all kinds!

    10- City living certainly has its flaws. It disgusts me that I see people urinating in public or even acting like idiots. Bars should not over serve and personal responsibility is deep trouble.

    11- STOP blaming the city for everything.

    12- and the last point…To all of the level headed people out there…We have a great neighborhood in FEDERAL HILL. I don’t plan on leaving because even as a mid 40′s person…I see it getting better. Yes there are warts and setbacks. But don’t trash and tear down all that is good. Our neighborhood is just like most families…Slightly dysfunctional at times, but plenty of love!

    Cheers!

    • King in the North

      I like you.

  • Balmy Balmer

    Put it at Hausners in the new “Canton North” neighborhood.

  • cwals99

    This is an example of how bad
    oversight and law enforcement in Baltimore has become. We went for
    decades unable to call police because they would not come for anything
    other than violent crimes. See how the crime stats go down? The same
    with these pedestrian law and order enforcements that hold business
    accountable to community concerns. We have police ticketing the
    homeless for loitering but we cannot get a public agency fully staffed
    to perform oversight that is preventative and not reactive…..and in
    this case they don’t even react! In Third World countries businesses
    operating illegally simply pay protection money to these inspectors and
    oversight agencies …….AND THAT IS WHAT BALTIMORE EMULATES!

    311
    complaints ignored, communities fight bars themselves
    Audit finds liquor inspectors not up to
    scratch, something community leaders had suspected
    The
    Museum (Gene Sweeney
    Jr., Baltimore Sun / April 4, 2013)

    By
    Ian Duncan and Alison Matas, The Baltimore Sun

    7:05 p.m. EDT, April 6, 2013

  • rkolberg

    Time for both sides of the debate to move to Curtis Bay. A waterfront neighborhood with real issues and nowhere to go but up!

  • Andrew

    Baltimore CIty is utterly hostile to residential neighborhoods such as Mt Vernon by sponsoring bloated, greasy,drunken, brawling events like Pride, Artscape and the likes that do nothing for these places other than make the residents want to leave. Once these struggling neighborhoods are officially in a good place, these festivals should MOVE ON to a place that needs the commerce and normalization. The number of baby carriages that one sees on a normal day should tip City Hall off that it’s not appropriate to let such debauchery continue. Where’s the common sense and decency?

  • Gerald Neily

    NIMBYs have now become a good thing. They are the ones who have the most knowledge, greatest commitment and the biggest investment in their communities – in effect, their entire lives. They also usually have the greatest understanding of how their communities relate to the city as a whole. But the anti-NIMBYs have become the larger force for change. We can call them the “IfUDLILs”, pronounced “If-you’d-lils”, for “If you don’t like it, leave”. Their power is demonstrated by the fact that hundreds of thousands of people in Baltimore have taken up their suggestion and left.

  • Miriam Boer

    The thing that bothers me about the nighttime/bar scene in Fed Hill is how interchangeable most of the bars are (e.g., Cowboys and Rednecks, Mother’s, Mad River, Bandito’s, etc.) They’re there to allow people to drink hard and either hook up or break up. This is a statement of fact, not a judgement; there was a time when that had a place in my weekend activities.

    If this beer garden is going to the be kind of place where “domestic specials” means “the cheap shitty mass-market beer made with crap is cheap and shitty” and serve the basic slaughterhouse floor sausages/hotdogs, then yes, it’s going to be just another one of the undistinguishable bars in the neigh[bro]hood. If we’re talking about someplace that’s going to serve high-quality import and homegrown examples of the German brewing tradition and serve up some real-deal (dare I say house-made?) sausages and kraut, currywurst, sweet and sour cabbage, pickled herring, assorted German salads, etc., maybe some checker boards and games, then it’ll be an entirely different establishment, which, let’s face it, would probably be more at home in Brooklyn (the one in NY).

    The problem is that while some of us – especially those of us who love our craft beer and great food – would revel in the latter, there may not be a sustainable market in this area for that. People like predictability and tater tots. Do any of you remember the fall of Gastropub 1542? Because I do. Outstanding food in a super casual setting, no one knew what to make of it, and so it folded and turned into Banditos, which is apparently thriving in its current form.

    I wish there was more information on the owners’ business plan, because one incarnation of this establishment would just be another drunk hookup/breakup joint and the other would be pretty great and encourage those of us young professionals in the 20-30-something age range with hipster/foodie tendencies to stick around. But to be honest, I don’t think there’s a critical mass for that just yet.

  • George Lopez

    Meh. It sounds like the neighborhood has gone full circle since the Hammerjacks Days.

  • Ethan Giffin

    I agree that this piece is extremely slanted and is not the consensus of the neighborhood as a whole… I have lived in Fed Hill for 8 years and had a business here for 4 until we relocated our office to Canton. Its unfortunate that these ‘extreme’ opinions are promoted when most of my neighbors and I are more even keel to things. I have never been a part of the FHNA and will probably not support them or thier events after this fiasco. I too have have feedback around the diversity of establishments on Cross currently, but thats not the debate. It’s a ‘take our neighboorhood back’ stance. Go ahead – try to take Fed Hill back to $5,000 shells and bars that open at 6am.

  • Erika Lasker

    Why are residents not frequenting new places like Langermann’s on Light instead? 1542 Light St.

More of the Daily Drip »

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  • March 24, 2014

    • Last Thursday, I sent an email to the Mayor’s Office of Communications asking for some basic responsiveness: Please return our emailed queries and phone calls about stories. Please send us the same routine emails you send to other members of the media. Lately, more so than usual, they haven’t been. It’s a shame because, even [...]

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