Construction coming to a close at Unity Hall

Unity Hall is almost ready for occupancy. The newly renovated former union headquarters at 1505 Eutaw Place will complete construction by April 6, according to developers.

During a hard-hat tour conducted March 8 by Somerset Development officials, workers were painting, finishing up wiring and lighting, and readying a large commercial kitchen for occupancy by an established caterer. The long-vacant 30,000 square-foot facility is expected to begin its new life as a center for community arts, education and training by June, in time to play host to the No Boundaries Coalition block party June 18. NBC will move its headquarters into the facility by then.

Offices and rehearsal space for Single Carrot Theater are near completion. The 15-year-old troupe produces what it calls “socially relevant theatre as a form of civic engagement.” The new theater facility can accommodate up to 125 seats, according to the developers, but will initially be used for rehearsals. That hall is one of several meeting and engagement areas on three levels, with floor-to-ceiling windows providing natural light, that eventually will include an art space and room for yoga and other classes.

Other tenants will include Baltimore Music Box, The Community Builders and Building Our Nation’s Daughters (BOND). Unity Hall will operate as a charitable, non-profit organization that will provide program and office space for community-based organizations, art studios, co-working spaces, a commercial kitchen, auditorium and job training facilities. It will be a venue for community meetings and events, exhibits, music performances, theater, and other cultural events, as well as program spaces for education, outreach services, and workforce development. A full-time, on-premises director will coordinate activities.

The building originally opened in 1964 as a union headquarters for the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers. Later the Empowerment Temple briefly ran community programs out of the building. More recently the structure has suffered from deferred maintenance. The hall is part of a contiguous campus of structures that Somerset Development has adapted with the Memorial Apartments Corporation (MAC), a non-profit organization spun off from Memorial Episcopal Church. These include the senior citizen residence Linden Park and the market-rate Jordan Apartments, which houses The Tilted Row restaurant.

Bill Hamilton