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Why Placemaking Matters For Retail To Survive

More developers are relying on food markets, lively outdoor spaces and specialty shops to make their retail and restaurant projects fit into their neighborhoods. Bisnow’s Baltimore Retail and Restaurant Revival will highlight this trend next Thursday, Oct. 15, at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, starting at 7:30am. We spoke to four panelists to get a preview.

Why Placemaking Matters For Retail To Survive

Belvedere Square in North Baltimore underwent a significant renovation and added several unique tenants last year, says City Slicker LLC founder Meghan Walsh. The boutique retail development consultancy is working with War Horse LLC, Scott Plank’s real estate development company, which invested in Belvedere Square two years ago.

Po’ boy and pizza joint Toulouou, Hex Ferments, juice bar Plantbar, and Ejji Ramen all opened last year in the market, which anchors the shopping center. Weekly concerts and holiday parties celebrating Halloween or Christmas draw in more locals, as do the big neon Belvedere Square Market sign, outdoor seating and heaters.

Why Placemaking Matters For Retail To Survive

The shopping center is seeking two additional restaurants (one to replace Spike Gjerde’s shuttered Shoofly Diner), and retail and services that could include a clothing boutique, a yoga studio, or a wine and paint studio, Meghan says. She’s pictured here with Scott Plank and Tidewater Capital’s Ross Stackhouse. War Horse is seeking tenants that would enhance Belvedere Square’s date night appeal or provide a service to the community.

”We turned away really great deals if we didn’t think the company or product was the right fit for the community,” Meghan says.

Why Placemaking Matters For Retail To Survive

Over in Little Italy, WorkShop Development is converting the shuttered Della Notte restaurant into a residential tower with 282 luxury apartments and 7k SF of retail. The building will include more landscaping and feature a restaurant with outdoor seating, making the property more pedestrian-friendly and inviting for visitors who make their way to adjacent Harbor East and downtown, says WorkShop principal Doug Schmidt. The project could include an Italian market, which would suit its surroundings.

Why Placemaking Matters For Retail To Survive

Even suburban developments are going for a more Main Street look. That’s the case with Greenleigh at Crossroads @95 in White Marsh, says St. John Properties VP Bill Holzman. “We’re trying to create a more upscale urban environment” in a suburban locale.

Why Placemaking Matters For Retail To Survive

“The emphasis is on creating a sense of place,” says Bill, pictured at last year’s ICSC in Las Vegas. St. John will also be very deliberate about the restaurants and retail, which will include a 50k SF gourmet grocer. The 250-acre project will include 1,000 single-family homes, 500 multifamily units and 166k SF of retail.

Why Placemaking Matters For Retail To Survive

Sometimes the neighborhood you're trying to fit into is a museum. Encantada, the vegetable-centric restaurant that debuted earlier this year in the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM), has taken a cue from the quirky museum with its “whimsical” design, says owner Robbin Haas. The restaurant is filled with art, including works from artists featured in AVAM’s permanent art collection. For instance, metal artist David Hess has designed a couple of communal tables. Crystal and recycled glass chandeliers dot the ceiling. Robbin also owns Birroteca in Hampden and the Nickel Taphouse in Mount Washington.

You can hear these speakers and more at Bisnow's Baltimore Retail and Restaurant Revival Thursday, Oct. 15, at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, starting at 7:30am. Sign up here.