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Baltimore Business Journal
By: Jonathan Munshaw
The design of the planned Hammerjacks concert venue near M&T Bank Stadium was approved by the city's architecture review panel Thursday, but developers must return to present additional ideas for an adjacent plaza.
Members of the Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel reiterated concerns from a previous presentation in December, saying the area outside the concert club was too bland and did not go far enough in considering pedestrian traffic. The panel signed off on the overall design of the venue.
Kevin Butler and Andy Hotchkiss, both partners in Hammerjacks Entertainment, hope to have the building at 1300 Russell St. open in the fourth quarter of 2017. The duo has been working for years to bring the famed rock club back.
The 53,000-square-foot project is situated along a dead-end portion of Russell Street that runs underneath the overpass — which is also Russell Street.
UDARP panelists urged designers to consider its location more to potentially be used as a place for Ravens tailgates or other outdoor parties — as well as the potential for including outdoor seating and additional lighting on the sidewalk along the underpass to make it more inviting.
"I feel the missing ingredient is the design of this plaza out here," panelist Gary Bowden said.
Designers had attempted to alleviate previous concerns about pedestrian traffic by proposing the installation of additional bollards along the underpass to protect guests from oncoming traffic. Plans also include installing stanchions at the main entrance to line up crowds properly before entering the building.
Butler said in an interview after the presentation that he was in talks with the city about various options for the underpass space. Since the road is owned by the city, Hammerjacks would need to enter into an agreement to use and maintain the space.
"Our long-term plan is working with the city and state to beautify it and make it part of the experience," Butler said.
Hammerjacks will include a 2,500-person concert space, indoor bar with space for 300 people and an outdoor beer garden. Developers are also plotting 2,500 square feet of retail space along Ostend Street on the first floor of the two-story building.
Work has already begun some interior work on the building. Later this year, two properties at 1310 and 1320 Russell St. will be demolished. The properties used to be home to the Paradox nightclub, which closed in 2015. Butler had initially hoped he would begin construction in fall 2016 and be open earlier in 2017.
Hammerjacks has secured financing on the project from York, Pa.-based PeoplesBank, Butler said, and he has now turned his attention to construction efforts.
Hammerjacks became renowned as a rock club in the 1980s and 1990s on Howard Street before it was torn down to make way for M&T Bank Stadium.
Butler purchased the rights to the Hammerjacks name in 2009. He had originally planned to open the venue at 601 W. West St., currently Lot N, near the Ravens stadium, before deciding to go with the current location.
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