Walking through the under-construction Union Collective on 41st Street in Hampden, it’s hard to get past the sheer enormity of the space. The former warehouse is thousands upon thousands of square feet, with ultra-high ceilings and oodles of modern-industrial charm. Where better, then, to set up a commerce collective? (Well, maybe somewhere that the GPS doesn’t drop you in the middle of a bridge, but that could just be this writer’s directional challenges.)
The Collective is a sort of factory-mall hybrid, providing each of its tenants space for both production and retail—or, as Union Craft Brewing cofounder Adam Benesch puts it, “an ecosystem of Baltimore business.”
“We want it to be a creative space for growing Baltimore businesses,” he says. “We hope it helps encourage businesses to stay in Baltimore.”
Over the next 7-10 years, the team projects that the Collective will add about 200 jobs to the Baltimore economy. They hope that the building will become a destination both for locals and tourists, joining the host of Charm City signatures.
“I want it to be a cool-looking, iconic building you see when you’re driving on 83,” Zerivitz says, referring to the other sights along the interstate.
The other major goal is collaboration. Though the current crowd of tenants may not seem to meld—beer, pizza, sauces, a climbing gym, whiskey, coffee and ice cream—they all have plans to combine forces in one way or another. (Think: Beer and ice cream pairings, coffee beans aged in whiskey barrels, soft pretzels served with special sauce—and, well, they’ll figure the gym part out later.)
While two vacant spaces remain in the Collective, Benesch says they’re not in a rush to fill them. One he believes lends itself to a food concept, while the other (the largest save for Union’s multi-room space) would be best for a manufacturer with significant output—but they’re keeping their options open.
As he explains, “we’re looking for Baltimore- or Maryland-based businesses with like-minded people who are doing this for the right reasons.”
Meet the Tenants
Union Craft Brewing: The beloved brewery and brains behind the operation, Union will use the space for a beer garden, grain silos, a massive taproom, a separate brewing area, administrative headquarters and a private events space. The new location triples their capacity for brewing alone, not to mention the increase in indoor-outdoor space for hosting guests and events.
Well-Crafted Kitchen: The two couples behind caterer Well-Crafted pizza are expanding from their current digs (a 1949 Dodge pickup with an oven in the back—seriously!) into a production and retail space directly adjacent to Union’s. (In fact, the pizza place opens up to Union’s tasting room.) “We plan to partner with and collaborate with [others in the Collective] on our menu,” says co-owner Ryan Bower. “We want to include and incorporate as many people in the space as we can.”
Huckle’s Brand: Currently operating out of home offices on the administrative side and Maggie’s Farm for production, Huckle’s will undergo a massive expansion from about 200 square feet of space to 5800. Their new equipment will make it possible for them to bottle 32,000 units a day—and while they say their demand is not yet at that point, they’re certainly going to “take on clients we were previously scared to take on.”
The Baltimore Whiskey Company: As if the debut of their first actual whiskey this weekend wasn’t enough, TBWC will now be four times the size of their current Remington HQ, with sixteen-fold production capacity. Even better? Their distillery will feature an environmentally friendly geothermal cooling system, among the first of its kind in the country. “We’re really excited to expand and grow and collaborate,” says cofounder Max Lents, citing a few examples of ways to combine their spirits with other vendors’ products. “We’re always in R&D.”
Earth Treks: A bit of the odd man out in the Collective, climbing gym Earth Treks is no less amped about their inclusion. The Baltimore branch of the Mid-Atlantic- and Colorado-based fitness chain features 10,000 square feet of climbing walls, reaching up to 15 feet high, as well as a yoga studio and a 3500 sq. ft. fitness center with traditional cardio and weight-training equipment.
The Charmery: Husband-and-wife team David and Laura Alima call their new location at Union Collective a “dream come true.” Though their Hampden location will remain open and their new Towson spot is still on track to open, the ice cream shop will move all production to Union. The storefront at the Collective is forthcoming, but will feature a whole section for Charmery merchandise, as well as plenty of local art. Other new additions include an oven for perfecting ingredient textures, among other uses, and—notably—lots more parking.
Vent Coffee Roasters: The whole reason Vent founder Sarah Walker began working in the coffee world, she says, was to open her own cool coffee shop. Now, that dream is realized with Vent’s first brick-and-mortar shop, which will feature an onsite roaster, full kitchen and, most importantly, a huge coffee bar. “Baristas are like shrinks,” says Walker of her company name. “I want this to be a place where people can come and let it all out. Expect coffee mocktails you can take down to TBWC for a little something extra, family-recipe baklava and a monthly local bazaar.
The $14 million project is anticipated to open in May of this year, though certain tenants will be starting operations a little earlier or later. Stay up-to-date at union-collective.com.