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4 Baltimore Real Estate Myths Debunked

The influence of Millennials and the demise of retail have been greatly exaggerated, according to speakers at Bisnow’s sixth annual Baltimore State of the Market, held Wednesday morning at the Warehouse at Camden Yards. Our commercial experts dispelled four real estate myths driving many deals today.

1. You should only care about Millennials

4 Baltimore Real Estate Myths Debunked

“The focus on Millennials is way overrated,” Continental Realty Corp CEO JM Schapiro told the 500-plus attendees. Baby boomers possess the greatest spending power and shouldn’t be overlooked in real estate deals, says JM, whose company manages 9,000 apartment homes and 3M SF of retail space.

2. Retail is dead

4 Baltimore Real Estate Myths Debunked

We always hear about how online shopping is wiping out retail. But don't plan the funeral just yet. In fact, some online retailers are moving in the other direction, JM (left) points out. Trendy online eyeglass store Warby Parker will open in Harbor East this spring.

Gyms, yoga studios, restaurants and big-box stores are all driving traffic to retail centers, says WorkShop Development principal Doug Schmidt. Stores like BJ’s Wholesale Club and Target were brought to Canton to serve the increasing number of families who are staying in the city, Doug says.

4 Baltimore Real Estate Myths Debunked

JM highlighted several expanding Maryland restaurant groups that are driving people to shopping centers: Nalley Fresh, Mission BBQ (which has grown into a national concept) and Iron Rooster. Serving all-day breakfast, Iron Rooster joined Mission BBQ late last year at the Shops at Canton Crossing.

3. No one will move to Baltimore

4 Baltimore Real Estate Myths Debunked

Convincing folks to move from California to Baltimore isn’t easy, admits Sagamore Ventures managing partner Demian Costa. Demian is also a partner at Plank Industries, the umbrella company for Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s real estate, whiskey distillery and investment arm. 

Baltimore’s national image has taken a beating with shows like The Wire and last year’s riots. Still, half the companies in Port Covington’s City Garage—an innovation hub for startups—are from outside the area, Demian says. Demian says he starts to win over transplants with mentions of the venerable art institutions and two renowned universities, the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University.

4. Only universities and hospitals can be anchor institutions

4 Baltimore Real Estate Myths Debunked

The University of Maryland, Baltimore is certainly a catalyst for real estate activity in the area, with a mixed-use apartment building and $305M health sciences facility on the way, says manager of capital budget and planning manager Luke Mowbray.

4 Baltimore Real Estate Myths Debunked

But in South Baltimore, the baseball park and casino are also driving economic activity. More than a baseball stadium, Camden Yards includes a warehouse with 15 tenants, boasting more than 90% occupancy, says Maryland Stadium Authority Chairman Tom Kelso. He’s pictured here on the right next to executive director Michael Frenz.

4 Baltimore Real Estate Myths Debunked

And the opening of Horseshoe Casino Baltimore in 2014 has led to more entertainment developments nearby, including nightclubs Hammerjacks and Paramount opening near the casino as city officials create a sports and entertainment district in the area. Pictured here is Horseshoe assistant general manager Alex Dixon.