Liquor Board Denies Crossbar Expansion; Crossbar to Open in Smaller Space

| June 28, 2013 | 7 Comments

photoAfter a three-and-a-half hour hearing, the Baltimore City Liquor Board came to a decision that Crossbar, planned for the former home of Turner’s/Billabong, would be denied an expansion from 12-14 E. Cross St. to 12-18 E. Cross St.  An unanimous decision from the board, led by Chairmen Steve Fogleman, determined that there was not a public need and desire for this expansion in the Federal Hill community.

Fogleman cited the unprecedented cohesion of five neighborhood groups, including Federal Hill Neighborhood Association,  Federal Hill South Neighborhood Association, Sharp-Leadenhall Improvement Committee, South Baltimore Neighborhood Association and Otterbein, protesting the expansion, as well as opposition by the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance and Councilman William Cole, as the reason for the decision.

“We are satisfied with the liquor board’s decision, but the following day we still have the same issues. We need to find a way to work together as a community to solve these problems,” FHNA President Eric Costello told SouthBMore.com.

Witnesses opposing the expansion spoke regarding their concerns about a dangerous environment around Cross St., public urination and vomiting, over-saturated parking inventory, excessive noise spilling out into the community and a lack of balance in the community between retail and bars. More than 50 area residents and business owners attended the hearing to support the opposition. Letters of opposition and a petition with approximately 450 signatures opposing the expansion were submitted.

Represented by attorney Dusky Holman, Crossbar presented renderings and menus and aimed to show the board that they would indeed be an upscale restaurant that could attract families and an older crowd.  Holman brought up that Crossbar would be something truly unique to Baltimore and a restaurant – something the community stated in a recent survey they were looking for more of.  Crossbar presented letters of support and a petition with more than 700 signatures.

Senator Bill Ferguson advised that the board should reject an expansion unless Crossbar and the community organizations have come to a fair agreement as to the specific conditions for maintaining community standard through a signed Memorandum of Understanding.  The groups met on Tuesday and were unable to come to an agreement.

Brian McComas, a partner in Crossbar, told SouthBMore.com that the agreement broke down over the idea of ending pub crawls in the area. “As president of the Federal Hill Hospitality Association, I can not agree to something that unilaterally affects the membership,” said McComas (FHHA is a group representing many bars and restaurants around Cross St.)

“The negotiaions weren’t close, we were at an impasse major in scope,”  said Costello.

Representing the opposition, attorney Brooke Lierman made a motion that the liquor license should be dismissed because it had not been used for more than 683 days. However, that motion was dismissed at the beginning and closing of the hearing because of appropriate renewals and communication with the board by the owners of the license.

McComas told SouthBMore.com that plans are moving immediately forward for Crossbar at 12-14 E. Cross St. “The plans were  designed to be modified to just 12 and 14 E. Cross if needed.  The sad part is that instead of a full blown restaurant, it was hampered enough that it may only be a bar.”

Crossbar will be appealing the decision of the board.

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, 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.
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