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Atlas' New Cross Street Market Crab House Will Have a Rooftop Deck

Federal Hill could have a new rooftop dining spot by this fall.

Watershed, the Atlas Restaurant Group crab house coming to Cross Street Market, will feature a rooftop deck with seating for nearly 170 people, according to new renderings unveiled Thursday.

The concept will anchor the west end of the market, which has been closed since Nick’s Inner Harbor Seafood left Cross Street in January 2019. Watershed will take over the 5,365-square-foot Nick’s space and add a 4,100-square-foot roof deck above. Atlas also has plans to open two new stalls inside the market under the name Atlas Fish Market, one selling fresh seafood and the other offering a raw bar.

With those additions, the market will be close to fully leased — there are still two stalls unspoken for out of a total of 22 — and will “have basically every market category covered,” said Arsh Mirmiran, a principal at Caves Valley Partners and one of the project’s developers.

Mirmiran said he anticipates construction on Watershed will begin in late February and be complete some six months later, in late summer. Atlas Restaurant Group said Thursday in a news release that it hopes to open the “classic Maryland seafood restaurant” in the fall.

“When presented with the opportunity to not only open a restaurant in historic Cross Street Market, but to also open a stall that supplies the community with fresh seafood options on a daily basis, we jumped at the chance to open Atlas Fish Market,” Alex Smith, the restaurant group’s CEO, said in a statement. “Through our connections with local, national and international purveyors, we look forward to bringing in some of the freshest seafood offerings in the city, as well as some unique and rare selections.”

The rooftop deck will offer 167 seats, a bar covered from the elements, picnic tables, large-screen televisions and an area for games like billiards, ping pong and foosball, according to the renderings from BCT Architects. Patrons will reach the roof using an indoor stairwell or a new outdoor staircase that will be built on the northwest side of the market.

Downstairs, the restaurant will have another 125 indoor seats and will be separated from the rest of the market by a sliding glass wall, said Chris Holler, a principal with BCT. As a result, the Charles Street side of the building “will no longer really function as a market entrance,” he said, though visitors will be able to access the market by walking through the restaurant outside of peak traffic times.

Designers are working on signage to redirect market visitors to a side entrance around the corner, Mirmiran said.

UDAAP panelists questioned the architects’ decision to leave a neon “Cross Street Market” sign above the Watershed entrance, arguing it would only serve to confuse market visitors.

“How would one know not to go in this door?” chair Pavlina Ilieva wondered.

“In many respects, it’s almost like here you’ve come and anchored yourself to one end, and not really considered much of what’s happening with the entire market,” said Osborne Anthony, another panel member.

The panel also encouraged designers to find a way to add more design continuity between Watershed and the market itself.

“It’s potentially a really exciting idea to have a rooftop, outdoor dining, especially in this part of the neighborhood, because there’s so much nightlife and street life and things like that,” Ilieva said. “You’ve done a good job of addressing what the client needs and what this operator needs, but it seems like when it comes to the scale of the market… I at least didn’t hear from the questions or the presentation how this either fits or presents or elevates the market, or presents a new sort of penthouse experience to it.”

The restaurant and deck will require significant construction: architects said the roof will have to be rebuilt in order to support the weight of the upstairs bar, and part of the floor on the bottom level will be removed so that it will be level with the street. People moving between Watershed and the market will take a step up into the market.

Mirmiran said Atlas Restaurant Group will fund most of the improvements; a spokesman for the company said Thursday that financial data on the project was not yet available to release.

Watershed and the fish market will represent some of the final additions to Cross Street Market, which reopened last year after an $8.5 million overhaul. Mirmiran said Caves Valley is in discussions with at least one more vendor to add to the lineup of offerings, which include Ceremony Coffee, Fenwick Choice Meats, Pizza di Joey, Royal Farms and Cans Filling Station. Rooster & Hen, a small grocer that opened earlier this month, is the latest tenant to join the market.

By: Amanda Yeager | Baltimore Business Journal