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We cruised the hot spots with Brown Craig Turner architects' Bryce Turner, who took us to all those places we usually can't find on our own. (In Baltimore, the straightest line to anywhere is over water.)
Kona Grill at One E Pratt St, Baltimore, MD, December 2011
We started Downtown at Bryce's One Charles Center office (the firm used to be at Tide Point, but when AOL and Under Armour both have their eyes on your space, the CBD becomes the more economical option, if not as steampunk chic) and drove past Griffith Properties and Fremont Realty Capital's One E Pratt, above. Bryce is a big proponent of undoing the landscaped berms that separate Downtown Baltimore office buildings from the street and instead bringing retail like Kona Grill out onto the sidewalk to engage pedestrians and tenants.

View from Federal Hill, Baltimore, December 2011
The view from Federal Hill gives us the back side of the American Visionary Art Museum (a must-see, Bryce says), the Legg Mason tower in Harbor East, and a jarring gold hand coming out of the back of a building in the foreground. Those tiered apartments in the background on the left are the Scarlett Place condos, previously the William G. Scarlett Seed Co. And in case you've been living under a vacant warehouse, this year marks the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812. Bryce feels Baltimore has more history than much of the country realizes, with "The Star-Spangled Banner" drafted from Federal Hill (nice view of Fort McHenry) in 1814 and Pratt Street, the scene of the first real Civil War skirmish.
Port Covington Shopping Center, Locust Point, Baltimore, December 2011
Well, this didn't go as planned. We drove past Pat Turner's Westport site off the Middle Branch (stalled despite $160M in TIFs) and down to the 60-acre Port Covington Shopping Center on the Southern Peninsula, where Walmart has held on since '02 and Sam's Club, above, lasted only a few years. (People still talk about that ol' Sam's Club. We try to tell the kids, but they just think we're old fools.) Bryce says the planners undervalued the Patapsco River waterfront and put the back of the shopping center to it. That and Baltimore residents' trouble finding the place doomed it.
Port Covington Shopping Center, Baltimore, Locust Point, December 2011
The rest of the parking lot, complete with medians, was built but never even paved. Inset, the Walmart sign awaiting some company.
Bryce Turner at Nick's Oyster Bar, Locust Point, Baltimore, December 2011
Our tour guide in front of our lunch spot: Nick's Fish House on Locust Point. It's the place to eat for authentic seafood-ists, but you have to know how to find it. Nick's got its start at Cross Street Market.
Abe Rosenthal at McHenry Row, Locust Point, Baltimore, December 2011
Next was a stop at the new McHenry Row, also on Locust Point, where we bumped into Abe Rosenthal, co-founder of Prime Outlets and now working with Mark Sapperstein on this community. Of the 250 apartments, 60 are leased (50 of those occupied).
Scott Stanton at Dogma, McHenry Row, Locust Point, Baltimore, December 2011
We also snapped Scott Stanton, who just opened his third Dogma pet store (yes, McHenry Row apartments are pet friendly) as co-owner here. The others are in Canton and Mt. Washington.
Harris Teeter at McHenry Row, Locust Point, Baltimore, December 2011
McHenry Row's crown jewel, Harris Teeter, has a 48k SF ground floor and a 13k SF upstairs with a cafe, pharmacy, and this view of the massive prepared-foods section. The LEED Silver store even has motion-detector lights above the freezers, so the sections lit up as we walked down the aisle—the closest we'll ever come to feeling like Michael Jackson. (Billie Jean is not my lover... )
Under Armour Campus, Tide Point, Locust Point, Baltimore, December 2011
Last stop: Bryce's old haunt of four years ago, Tide Point, where last month Under Armour got one step closer to a 400k SF expansion. City Council is the last approval needed for the PUD change to allow denser development.