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Wireless One, Inc. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore City

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

December 21, 2018

WIRELESS ONE, INC.
v.
MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL OF BALTIMORE CITY

          Circuit Court for Baltimore City Case No. 24-C-17-003125

          Meredith, Arthur, Beachley, JJ.

          OPINION

          Meredith, J.

         From 2004 until February 8, 2017, Wireless One, Inc. ("Wireless"), appellant, leased space in the Cross Street Market ("the Market") in Baltimore City from the owner of that facility, Mayor and City Council of Baltimore ("the City"), appellee. As of 2016, Wireless occupied the space pursuant to a month-to-month lease. In late 2016, a rental agent for the Market advised Wireless that its business did not fit into the long-term vision for the Market, and that it should pursue other options. Wireless vacated the Market on February 8, 2017, and thereafter sued the City, in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, claiming damages for being displaced.[1] The circuit court granted the City's motion to dismiss, and this appeal followed.

         QUESTIONS PRESENTED

         Wireless presents the following questions for our review:

1. Was Wireless a displaced person pursuant to Real Property Article 12-201[(e)](1)?
2. Did Wireless state a cause of action for an unconstitutional taking?

         For the reasons set forth below, we shall affirm the circuit court's judgment.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Cross Street Market was established in Baltimore City in 1847. At all times since 1847, the Market has been owned and operated by the City. Since 1994, Baltimore Public Markets Corporation ("Markets Corporation") has assisted the City in managing and operating the Cross Street Market and other markets in Baltimore.

         In 2004, Wireless leased space in the Market to operate a stall for its retail business of providing sales and service of cellular phones. Wireless occupied the space pursuant to various leases, but, as of 2016, was occupying the space pursuant to a month-to-month lease.

         On November 9, 2016, the City and its management company for the Market entered into a Management Agreement with Caves Valley Partners and CSM Ventures, LLC, a subsidiary of Caves Valley Partners, to operate the Market and undertake redevelopment of the Market. The Management Agreement empowered CSM Ventures, LLC, to lease portions of the Market and to terminate existing tenancies.

         On December 21, 2016, a Caves Valley Partners representative, Nick Alevrogiannis, sent an e-mail to occupants of the Market, including Wireless, with an update on plans for redeveloping the Market. The e-mail reads, in part:

[O]n January 9th, most of you will receive a Letter of Intent, along with current draft space plans for the new market, for your review and consideration as prospective tenants. There are a very limited number of tenants who we know will not fit in the plans. Those tenants have been ...

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