Considering the Future of Harborplace

School Year 2021-22, Teen Topics

By: Audrey Weiss

The Inner Harbor is known to be one of Baltimore’s greatest attractions for locals and tourists, but it has faced great hardship in the last several years. 

Business after business has vacated the area, especially inside of the retail hubs known as Harborplace. This was partially a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the problem runs deep and was apparent far before the year 2020.

Harborplace, placed between the Maryland Science Center and World Trade Center, opened its doors in the year 1980, set with the intention of being a centerpiece of downtown Baltimore.

Harborplace was one of the first waterfront malls, and drew a lot of attention originally as it became a landmark of sorts. Unfortunately, the buildings deteriorated and haven’t been able to update in a way that has allowed them to maintain any of the buzz Harborplace once had. 

The decline of Harborplace isn’t entirely its own fault; within the time frame of the pandemic, many other business staples in the Harbor have left or died out, including the once very notable Barnes and Noble location that was beside the National Aquarium.

The future of Harborplace, and the Inner Harbor as a whole, have been gaining attention recently within news outlets and Baltimore residents, especially with new possible opportunities for reviving the space.

In early April, it was first reported that MCB Real Estate, a Baltimore developer, acquired Harborplace from the receivership it was put into in 2019.

The managing partner at the company, David Bramble, is meant to take control of the project. Bramble told CBS News Baltimore that the plan is to “reinvent and reimagine Harborplace as a modern gathering location that is awe-inspiring and authentically Baltimore.” 

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott has pledged his support of the project, disclosing to the Baltimore Sun, “I’ve had the city solicitor working with him [David Bramble] since the beginning of the receivership process and I remain committed to seeing this to fruition.” 

Scott and his administration are willing to work with the redevelopment and a spokesperson for the mayor clarified they are willing to consider any requests for assistance, possibly including financial ones.

Though approval from a Baltimore Circuit Court Judge still has to go through, the future of Harborplace most likely will either entail simply major renovations, or demolishing the buildings to completely start over.

It is expected that the businesses that still reside within the waterfront mall space will be displaced when time for construction comes around, but the buildings are nowhere near filled to capacity, and so the amount of remaining businesses that would be affected is very few.

As plans for Harborplace are being considered, other parts of the Harbor have already taken steps to revamp the landmark; one major project that wrapped up last November was the opening of Rash Field Park.

The park, right up against the harbor, introduced a skate park, play ground, and other spaces for Baltimore natives to enjoy the waterfront view. 

There has already been a notable crowd that fills the park nearly everyday, circulating people into the harbor space and hopefully providing opportunities for local businesses that would incentivise them to formulate by the harbor.

It seems that there is still hope for the Inner Harbor, and many reasons for why attempts should be made to visit and enjoy the Harbor: to visit the new sites, support the businesses, and enjoy one of the landmarks of Baltimore.

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