To pedestrians passing by 26 Market Space, the building looks much as it has for the last several years. But on the inside, a construction crew is hard at work.
They're working long hours in extreme summer temperatures to transform the former Riordan's Restaurant into a new, downtown dining destination called Factors Row.
“When it’s all said and done the only thing that will be old is the beams and the brick and some of the old windows,” said building tenant Bruce Gardner.
The building was constructed in 1771, and it has been vacant since 2007 when Riordan's closed its doors. Gardner, an Eastport resident, has been trying to build Factors Row since 2009.
Crumbling walls, structural dammage and governmental red tape had slowed and even stopped renovations until recently.
Annapolis Patch had the opportunity to tour the inside of the building with Gardner and hear about the changes his crew are making.
One of the big features of the first floor will be the bar towards the back of the restaurant.
Gardner said the building was originally an import, export business for shipping merchants, which resulted in an entire wall made of ballast stone.
Ballast stones were used in the bottom of a boat down to provide balance when the ships were empty. Shippers would dump the rocks at places like Factors Row when they loaded up with cargo.
"The wall was covered up when it was Riordan's, but I’ve taken the plaster off," Gardner said. "This is going to be part of the back bar."
The north wall, where much of the stabilization work has taken place, used to have windows.
Garnder said the Great Atlantic Pacific Tea Company covered them up in order to have more shelf space when the building functioned as a grocery store.
"We’re going to put the old windows back in," Gardner said. "When you have a window table, everyone enjoys that."
The first floor will also have a new unisex bathroom, and yes, there will be outdoor seating in the front.
This floor will feature another bar and a show kitchen where Gardner hopes to recruit celebrity chefs to cook and to be broadcast on the Food Network.
He plans to have seating at the show kitchen's counter where "you and the chef can intermingle and watch what happens."
There will also be a customer lift providing access to the second floor.
Gardner wanted to have the third floor ready when the restaurant opened, but a few hiccups arose after an inspection from the structural engineer.
"This is just going to be storage in the beginning and hopefully if we do really well on the first two floors, we can finish off the third floor and use it for seating," Gardner said.
But when the restaurant will open still remains in flux. Gardner has secured all the permits he needs to make repairs to the outside of the building, but he is still waiting on the building permit.
"There are several permits before you get the building permit. Right now the (Annapolis) Fire Marshal’s office is reviewing our exhaust hoods and fans, and the fire suppression system," Gardner said. "I think that’s the last permit we need to get the overall building permit."
Once he has it, Gardner thinks it should take about 12 weeks to finish construction on the interior.
But he doesn't know when that will be. Said Gardner, "I’ve been hoping for permits for a long time."
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