South Baltimore Business Roundup

| March 1, 2012 | 10 Comments

A lot to cover today, so let’s get started!

The 1700 block of Light Street may be the most frustrating block left on the peninsula.  Two notorious drug houses are on the corner of Heath Street and both have defied revitalization based on unrealistic property values according to their owners.  On the even side is the famous Victory House, which needs to go!  So here are some good updates from the South End (Barney St.) side of that block.

I caught the new owner of Bill’s Lighthouse Inn today, soon to become The Slyce Bar, on my walk with Hansel (Dog Blog Editor) this morning.  He said they are probably about a month away from opening.  There is a major renovation that is already very far along on the inside and “serious changes” will happen to the outside of the building.  “It will be a pizza bar and we will also do delivery.  We’ll have lots of pizza, in addition to other menu items, and it will be a fun place to hangout,” said the owner.  Looking forward to it!

Update:  Nice Article from City That Breeds on Bill’s with interesting comments.

Across the street from Bill’s is the bar with no name or Leon’s Bar, if you’ve ever talked to the locals.  Leon’s has been closed since the new year.  We’ll see if they open back up, but typically this indicates a change in ownership could be coming.  (Update: I found out today it is closed for good) Leon’s does not have a liquor license – just beer and wine – so a new owner will have to have a nice menu.   While the people who hung out at Leon’s were good guys, some sketchy neighborhood folks would loiter outside the place, so a new bar there would be huge for the block!

The Reserve?

Making my way down Light Street I caught some big changes to the outside of The Reserve.  They have traded in their navy and powder blue exterior for a brown and tan color scheme.  The sign that says The Reserve is off the front and sitting in the sidewalk for anyone to steal, so I’m guessing a name change is coming.  Renovations are also happening on the inside, so I assume you can all check out  “[Name TBD]” very soon.

Update:  It appears it will be called 1542 Gastro Pub.  Read our history of the 1542 address here.

Light and Fort Ave. Corner

Tired of hearing about Light Street yet? Too bad, it’s coming hard and heavy today!  The 1500 Block of Light Street was really the shining light in the revitalization of South Baltimore.  For more than 10 years the block has featured art galleries, the Bicycle and a furniture maker.  But the corner of Light and Fort (SW Corner) has always been a disaster.  Once a diner and Gold Depot, the only news it has made in the last 10 years was that it was condemned.

The property which will include four apartments and a three-rowhouse wide storefront is fast under construction.  It appears to be completely roofed and framed, with interior work coming soon.  The temporary particle board on the outside wall (beautiful!) was recently graffitied, but it was quickly painted over.  I don’t know (no pun) what will be going in the store front, but I did hear rumors of a real estate office.

YWGC purchased by Prudential PenFed Realty

Short-lived real estate firm Yerman Whitman Gaines and Conklin has been purchased by Prudential PenFed Realty.  YWGC featured some of the heaviest hitters in Baltimore including the team of Cindy Conklin and Bob Merbler.  The merger will place many of the top producers with Prudential including Murphy Washo Gunsiorowski & Associates, and Conklin and Merbler.  We’ll see if all offices are kept, which includes the Southside Shopping Center for Prudential and Light St. and McHenry Row for YWGC.

Federal Hill Retail Updates

Two stores appear to be close to opening in the heart of Federal Hill.  Looks like we’ll be getting our third tobacco themed store as Happy Times: Defense, Tobacco and Pipes will be opening at 920 Light.  So far they’ve spray painted the existing canopy –  we’ll see if that is permanent.

Update:  It appears this has caused some unrest in the Federal Hill Neighbors.

It looks like Federal Hill will also be getting a record store called Protean Records next to Lucinda Gallery of Art on the 900 block of South Charles St.  They have a nice blue and orange facade outside and some KISS dolls in the window. We’ll keep you posted.

The window of the old Corks has a sign that reads, “Once in a lifetime Federal Hill opportunity available!”  I like the optimism!  They have sold the liquor license to Rowhouse Grille, so the new owners will probably look to get a restaurant license, buy a floating liquor license, or go alcohol free. But it certainly is a property that doesn’t need much work.

Casino Moving Forward?  

Well it appears Harrah’s CEO Gary Loveman feels it’s moving forward.  Loveman is optimistic the casino, waiting on background checks of the investors, will get the OK.  The $310 million slots parlor and entertainment center will take over a terrible looking stretch of real estate just south of M&T Bank Stadium.

As far as table games go, the state is already looking into it and it will probably become a reality by the time it opens.  What is the moral difference between slots and table games? You tell me.  All I know is the slot video machines cost millions of dollars and dealers, tables and stacks of cards cost much less.  Second Chance Antiques, who used to occupy much of the site, is now across the street in the Camden Carroll Industrial area.







About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.