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Redevelopment Of Baltimore's Iconic Harborplace Moving Forward Soon

The Harborplace retail property on Baltimore's Inner Harbor

Baltimore residents will soon have the chance to weigh in on the upcoming transformation of the iconic Harborplace property. 

Economic development officials expect to start holding public meetings with residents to share ideas for MCB Real Estate's redevelopment of the Inner Harbor landmark by the end of the year, the Baltimore Business Journal reported Thursday.

Colin Tarbert, CEO of the Baltimore Development Corp., told board members Thursday he expects public meetings to start once the Inner Harbor landmark clears receivership. Politicians, economic development officials and residents have waited roughly three years to start the process of molding plans for the Harborplace pavilions.

Earlier this year, Baltimore-based MCB Real Estate signed an agreement to purchase the property once a judge approves the deal. Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced the impending purchase of Harborplace by MCB Real Estate during his State of the City address in April. 

“Today, we start a new chapter for Harborplace – bringing Baltimore vision, Baltimore community investment, and Baltimore style to transform Harborplace into a landmark destination where residents can go to enjoy the best that we have to offer – thriving small businesses, green spaces and cultural venues,” Scott said in his speech.   

The Harborplace property, a creation of renowned developer Jim Rouse, is a two-level indoor mall with retail and restaurant spaces. The property was a major component of Baltimore’s redevelopment of its decaying commercial waterfront. The pavilions, combined with projects such as the nearby National Aquarium, transformed the Inner Harbor into a tourist destination.

Built in 1980, the property has started to show its age. At the same time, tastes in retail shifted away from enclosed malls toward more urban-style mixed-use projects that combine shopping options with residential and office buildings.  

Previously owned by the embattled Ashkenazy Acquisitions Corp. since 2013, Harborplace struggled with upkeep and vacancy during that firm's tenure as owner. Eventually, the property entered bankruptcy in the summer of 2019, where it sat with an uncertain future until MCB entered the picture.

MCB is primarily known as a mixed-use developer in the Baltimore area. The firm is best known in Baltimore for projects like Yard 56 in Bayview, The Rotunda in Hampden and Northwood Commons near Morgan State University.

Harborplace isn’t the only former Ashkenazy-owned property in Baltimore getting new investment. In 2020, after about two years of negotiations, Ashkenazy sold the Rouse-designed Village at Cross Keys to Caves Valley Partners. The new owners expect significant investments in repositioning the retail portion of Cross Keys to finish by the end of the year.