December 6, 2023
Annapolis, US 42 F

Annapolis Market House glitch, new leaseholder to take over on Monday.

Eye On Annapolis has learned that New Market (the vendor selected to operate the Market house in Annapolis) has run into some unforeseen issues in renovating the building and has proposed a significant change. With  an emergency late night meeting on Friday, five members of the Council and Mayor Buckley have decided to not allow them out of the lease as New Market originally wanted; but have allowed them to sublease the property for the duration of their initial lease. It is expected that the new tenant will still be able to keep the schedule set by New Market and is expected to be open for business sometime in May of 2018. Buckley is the fourth Mayor of Annapolis who has tried to get the Market House open.

As everyone is aware, the Market House has been a dismal failure since Tropical Storm Isabelle blew through the area in 2003. First the existing merchants were thrown out. The replacement merchants snuck out. It opened and closed several times and after evicting the most recent tenant, it now once again, it sits empty with windows blackened and a decrepit, out of tune piano sitting outside the front door.

A source who was present at the emergency meeting disclosed that McDonalds Corporation had designed a new prototype restaurant which will fit in with the various historic surroundings throughout the country with little modifications.

We contacted McDonalds and while they refused to discuss the specifics,  William J. Feeser (VP New Real Estate) said, “We have successfully brought out product to market in non traditional sites. We have designed a new restaurant, actually branded a Cafe, to fit in almost any historical element including Annapolis.” He did confirm that an agreement between New market, the City of Annapolis, and McDonald’s was executed.

Our source at City Hall provided us with a draft copy of the proposed agreement terms.  Some notable features of this lease include:

  • Initial term of the lease is 5 years (per the New Market lease) with ability to extend to 20 years
  • Elimination of parking on Market Space to accommodate a drive through and expansion of sidewalks to allow cafes for Market Space restaurants.
  • All leasehold improvements to be completed by the McDonalds Corporation
  • Initial rental of the 2500 space to be $17 psf, increasing to $75 psf in 2019
  • Installation of a pneumatic “meal delivery device” and remote ordering screen at the head of Ego Alley to accommodate boaters
  • A one time contribution to the City for capital improvements in the amount of $1 million which has been earmarked for the funding of the Rise Up Annapolis Festival planned by the Mayor for September as well as improvements to Lafayette Square and the public-private hotel partnership underway on City Dock.
  • Subdued signage to blend in with the historical nature of the town and subject to HPC approval.

Construction is expected to resume on Tuesday with an accelerated schedule. Feeser said it was critical to be open in time for tourist season.

Jody Danek, a partner in New Market simply said, “We tried. The City was a pain from the get go. We ran into the issue and decided to see if we could cut our losses.  I think we (and the City) are in a good place with this deal.”

We contacted Mayor Buckley at home on Easter morning and he said, “I have said that we need to make Annapolis a place where people want to come and be. While I woudl have liked to see the New Market concept work, I understood where the group was coming from and this really made some sense. Who does not like McDonald’s after a night of drinking at Tsunami, Lemongrass, or Metropolitan?”  We asked the Mayor about the backlash and he encouraged everyone to read the amended lease (link below).

While the Market House has been a cost center for the City for nearly a decade, this deal finally looks to be one that actually makes sense. Right away, the city get $1 million. For the the remainder of the lease will net the City nearly $4 million

The preliminary copy of the amended lease can be viewed here.

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