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Burlington Leases Long-Vacant Pratt Street Retail Space

National discount retailer Burlington Stores Inc. has signed a 34K SF lease in downtown Baltimore's Lockwood Plaza, a deal officials are touting as a sign of the city's retail revival. 

Burlington Stores Inc. has leased 34K SF at Lockwood Plaza in downtown Baltimore.

Burlington announced plans Thursday to open a store at 600 East Pratt St., a property near Inner Harbor attractions, including the National Aquarium. The deal, first reported by the Baltimore Business Journal, will fill a space that has sat vacant for roughly a decade since the previous tenant, Best Buy, closed.

"This is very meaningful for the Central Business District and the revival that is so evident in Baltimore City," Ken Bernstein, senior vice president of retail leasing for Lockwood Plaza operator David S. Brown Enterprises, said in a statement. "I am looking forward to welcoming Burlington and supporting their continued growth and success. Our team has put a lot of effort into this partnership, and we are glad to finally see it come to fruition."

Other tenants at the plaza include Fogo De Chao Brazilian Steakhouse, IHOP, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Marshalls.

In its announcement, Burlington said it expects to hire a mix of 65 full- and part-time workers at the store, but its statement didn't include a timeline for its opening. A spokesperson for the New Jersey-based company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Baltimore Deputy Mayor for Community and Economic Development Justin A. Williams touted the lease as symbolic of an ongoing renaissance in the city's traditional Central Business District. The 1-mile area around Pratt and Light streets remains on pace to attract $6.5B in investments over the 10 years that began in 2018, he said. 

"Burlington's presence will not only contribute to the vibrancy of the Inner Harbor, but help fuel the momentum of downtown's transformation, attracting more businesses, residents, and visitors to experience the new era of Downtown's renaissance," Williams said in a statement.

Despite news of Burlington filling a long-vacant space and a surge in suburban retail investment, Baltimore's downtown has struggled to attract and retain retailers in recent years. 

Last fall, retail brokers told Bisnow that pockets of the city have managed to produce growth and positive momentum. But issues like crime and unemployment caused a pause among retailers considering moving into certain submarkets like downtown. 

“Things are not well in Baltimore city,” MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate principal Tom Fidler said in October.

The struggles of high-profile retail assets like The Gallery and Harborplace highlight the sector's woes in the Central Business District, an area suffering a significant downturn in the office market. According to CBRE researchers, office vacancies reached an all-time high in Baltimore during the first quarter. 

However, there are signs of a turnaround for downtown retail. Seawall Development delivered a new $45M Lexington Market building earlier this year that boosters expect to improve retail’s fortunes in downtown's Westside neighborhood. 

MCB Real Estate, which controls the iconic Harborplace mall, has also started collecting community input on how residents want the property redeveloped.

While a final development plan is still in the works, MCB Real Estate Managing Partner David Bramble told radio station WYPR this spring a redeveloped Harborplace will still include retail.  

"We see that people want experiences, they want something unique, they want something you can't order online, and that's the kind of experience we think the retail associated with this project will bring," Bramble said. "The kind of stuff you do because you want to go there, not because you could get it at the mall or order it on Amazon."