Karzai leaves team developing Chesapeake Restaurant site

Qayum Karzai has pulled out of the partnership developing the former Chesapeake Restaurant space, and plans for a fine-dining restaurant have been scrapped, the project's developers acknowledged Friday.

The prominent restaurateur was the focal point of plans the developers presented to the public last fall when they purchased the property from the city. The developers say they are now looking for a new restaurant operator, or operators, for the property.

It was not clear why Karzai pulled out of the project, and he could not be reached for comment.

The restaurant site and an adjacent lot were sold to developers Michael Schecter and Ernst Valery of Station North Development Partners LLC for $2.5 million under a deal approved by the city's Board of Estimates in October.

Valery said that Karzai pulled out of the project in April.

Current plans for the property call for a retail-restaurant mix on the ground floor, with offices and studio space on the second floor, Valery said.

M.J. "Jay" Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp. — which managed the sale of the property for the city — discounted a suggestion that Karzai's departure, and the scaling back of the project's public spaces, amounted to a significant change of plans.

"The developers' plans were to revitalize the area," he said.


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