By: Natalie Sherman
A new Hammerjacks club and concert venue is planned to replace longtime Baltimore club Paradox on Russell Street.
A sign announcing the revival of the Hammerjacks brand will go on the 1300 Russell St. building this week, said Kevin Butler, owner of Hammerjacks Entertainment Group, who
purchased the name and trademark of the longtime Baltimore music venue several years ago.
Butler said he plans to start demolition and renovation this winter and open by Dec. 31 of next year. The $8 million project, located close to M&T Bank Stadium, is to include a concert hall, club, 4,000 square feet of retail and an outdoor courtyard.
Hammerjacks, which publicly announced the new location at a party this weekend, had explored a more extensive development with a hotel on a parking lot nearby, but locating at the Russell Street site allows it to inherit the zoning for Paradox, Butler said.
He is working with the property's owner, Andy Hotchkiss, on the 48,000-square-foot development, which includes three connected buildings, two of which will be demolished for
the courtyard and concert hall.
Paradox owner Wayne Davis announced last month that he would close the club in 2016 after 25 years in the business. He said he expects to remain open for another few months until construction begins.
Davis, 63, said he hopes to partner with Hammerjacks on some future events but had always planned to take a step back after 25 years, when the lease expired.
"The hours are killing me," he said.
Hammerjacks originally opened in 1977 on South Charles Street, and became iconic in the 1980s after moving to a new location under an Interstate 395 overpass, hosting acts such as Donna Summer, the Ramones, Guns N' Roses and Ozzy Osbourne.
The club closed in 1997 after the Maryland Stadium Authority paid the owners, the Principio family, $3.1 million to make way for parking near Camden Yards. A 2000 reincarnation on Guilford Avenue closed in 2006.
Butler, who secured the trademark for $1,000, has been working on the plans for more than four years. He said he's hoping it will help the growth of a new entertainment district in the area, and he expects it to be open to all musical genres.
"You can't re-create the '80s," he said. "You've got to be a destination."
City Councilman Edward Reisinger, who represents the area, said he has talked to Butler about his ideas and supports the plan. Butler has been talking with community groups and businesses in the Pigtown and Carroll Camden areas, and the project appears to be well received, he said.
"I think it will be a jewel to that area," Reisinger said. "You have the anchors like the two stadiums and the casino, and having this type of entertainment on this side of town … is going to be an asset for the city, especially that area."
Reisinger said he believed the Hammerjacks name would attract those who remembered the earlier clubs.
"I think it's a good project," he said.
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