A New Look for The Inner Harbor

| February 23, 2012 | 7 Comments

Whether the Inner Harbor is your favorite place to spend an afternoon or a place you avoid for the coziness of your neighborhood, there is no denying it is an iconic landmark in this city and state.  The combination of water, retail, dining and big business is as beautiful of a setting as you’ll find in any city.  It is the top tourist attraction in the state as a recent BBJ study from 2010 showed that Harbor Place and The Gallery had 14.2 million visitors, 7.7 million for Power Plant and 1.4 million for the aquarium.  “Everyone wants to be down here, it’s just a question of finding them the right space,” said Josh Deckelbaum, senior leasing representative for Harborplace and The Gallery.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

When Phillips announced they were leaving Harborplace, what looked like a big loss turned into a great opportunity to energize and breath new life into the 30-year old shopping center.  Phillips’ departure allowed Harborplace to move their food court to Phillips’ old buffet area. The old food court will now be replaced by Ripley’s Believe it or Not.  Ripley’s, which is a museum dedicated to odd and bizarre things around the world, will take up 12,978 square feet of space in the Light St. building and feature a toned-down version of this entrance design.  They will open in time for the summer on June 1st.

The old Phillips restaurant will be replaced by a 13,589 square foot Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., created after everyone’s favorite Forrest Gump.  Bubba Gump will open their doors on April 19th.  As for Phillips, they didn’t go far, moving into the space vacated by ESPN Zone in Power Plant.

McCormick, one of Baltimore’s most famous companies, will open their first Inner Harbor business since leaving for Hunt Valley in 1989.  They will open McCormick World of Flavors by Memorial Day.  The retail store will take over 3,818  square feet of first floor space next to Noodles & Company.

Other updates at Harborplace include a soon-to-be finished renovation of J. Pauls as well as a Subway, Johnny Rockets and several additions to the food court.  Also recently added to the shopping center were local favorite Lenny’s Deli, H&M, It’s Sugar Candy Store and Marble Slab Creamery, plus several new stores.  With the new additions, and some soon-to-be announced stores, the only significant space available is the restaurant site vacated by Capitol City Brewery.

H and M

“We offer a great variety for all of our different crowds.  Places like Lenny’s and McCormick to bring in the locals, great stores like H & M and Urban Outfitters, attractions like Ripley’s for families and kids, and plenty of things for tourists to enjoy,” said Deckelbaum.  “This is a really exciting time. We’ve made tremendous strides and there is definitely a re-emergence of the Inner Harbor and downtown.”

The growth is not limited to Harborplace and Power Plant as Pratt Street is opening four new businesses.  Italian chain restaurant Brio will open next month next to a new Starbucks on the 100 block of East Pratt St., which is the site of the T. Rowe Price building situated across the street from Harborplace.

The Verizon building on the unit block of East Pratt street will be adding a PNC bank and a Nature’s Table.  Nature’s Table has a Panera feel, offering wraps, salads, smoothies, paninis, soups and rice bowls. They will open next door to Kona Grill.

So whether you work downtown, want to take a quick trip to the Inner Harbor or are visiting our city, there will be a ton of new things to check out.  Business owners are also hoping for a better season from the Orioles, as 15 straight years of losing has taken attendance from 3,711,132 in 1997 to just 1,907,163. This has certainly had a huge impact on many Inner Harbor businesses.

Now that things look very stabilized, what else can we expect in the future from the Inner Harbor?  Two developments will play a big role in that question.  The first is 414 Light St., the old site of McCormick, which is now a parking lot.  414 Light St. is owned by Questar Properties Inc., a Baltimore company specializing in residential developments.  So we’ll see if they propose a residential or mixed-use building for that site in the near future.  It would be nice to see a large department store at the bottom of the large footprint.

Sheraton Inner Harbor

The other property is the Sheraton Inner Harbor, proposed to be the site of the new arena and expanded convention center with the hotel built on top.  Developer Willard Hackerman has agreed to finance the arena and hotel as long as the state finances the convention center.  That idea is being discussed in the  general assembly session in Annapolis.  We’ll see what happens, but obviously it would be huge for the Inner Harbor and downtown, and would allow us basketball fans to see some great games once again.

It’s certainly an exciting time to be in Baltimore.  Downtown has seen an 11.6% population growth since 2006 and is now home to  approximately 41,289 residents.  That population in center city is good for eighth best in the country.  The Inner Harbor and its surrounding neighborhoods have really seen a renaissance… let’s hope the central business district is next!



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About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.