Shopping Center Business

MAY 2016

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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BALTIMORE 296 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • May 2016 T oday in downtown Baltimore, a compact patchwork of neigh- borhoods once blighted by old, abandoned buildings, there are young professionals walking to work. Tourists and locals stroll along the harbor front. And, new, exciting restaurants and retail- ers are opening up in the revitalized city center. This is all part of the city's long- range plan to transform the historically industrial downtown into a true 24/7 live-work-play experience. According to the Downtown Partner- ship of Baltimore's most recent Down- town Development Report from May 2015, the total development pipeline in- cludes $1.4 billion in projects under con- struction and an additional $1.3 billion of planned investment. Of that number, $300 million of mixed-use development was under construction and over $557 million was planned. "We've seen a conversion of down- town from a purely commercial area to one that's far more mixed-use," says Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Part- nership of Baltimore. "It's exciting to see the progress over the last several years. When you compare compact downtowns throughout the country, we are now ninth in terms of residents and 13th in terms of employees." Baltimore's downtown development boom has been many years in the making. Like in many urban cities, the suburban sprawl of the 1960s, '70s and '80s saw many businesses leave downtown for the promise of bigger spaces and lower costs. The city and organizations like the Down- town Partnership of Baltimore have spent the last several decades working together to try to fill in those gaps left behind and once again create a vibrant city center. Part of that has been overcoming ob- stacles that come with development in a small downtown that's nearly 300 years old, such as outdated underground infra- structure, high property costs and a lack of land. "Our downtown was not built with a mixed-use future in mind, but it's the kind of diversity we know we need to create a truly great city," Fowler says. With a number of vacant and old office buildings, adaptive reuse was a logical option. However, prohibitive costs were keeping many would-be developers at bay. In 2013, the Downtown Partnership worked with the city to create a tax credit for the conversion of old office buildings into residences. "Once that was put in place, it seemed to spark a whole new realm of development," Fowler says. FROM OLD COMES NEW And the redevelopment continues. To- day, over 42,350 residents call downtown Baltimore home. At the end of 2015, over 25 residential projects were under devel- opment in downtown, and nearly 5,100 market-rate units will be delivered by 2017. "Right now, downtown is the fast- est-growing neighborhood in the entire city," Fowler says. Last year, Reston, Virginia-based Met- ropolitan Partnership Ltd. introduced its much-anticipated conversion of the city's second-tallest office tower into a luxu- ry apartment building. Called 10 Light Baltimore Reborn Adaptive reuse projects and luxury residential towers are reinvigorating downtown, creating renewed demand for retail. Lindsey Walker Marcec Downtown Baltimore is seeing interest from many local, regional and national retailers who see an increasing population. Pictured is 400 East Pratt Street. 414 Light Street is a planned apartment tower downtown.

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