Federal Hill Main Street Executive Director Cathy Rosenbaum to Focus on Cleaning, Beautification, and New Events

| March 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

Cathy Rosenbaum, who was hired as the new Executive Director of Federal Hill Main Street (FHMS) at the beginning of the year, is looking to bring some visible changes to Federal Hill. Rosenbaum spent recent years as the Executive Director of Maryland Therapeutic Riding, Inc. and as the Marketing and Operations Manager of Mount Vernon Place Conservancy Inc.

FHMS Board President Craig Stoner told SouthBMore.com it was a “pretty exhaustive” hiring process that took about three months and attracted 30 to 40 applicants. FHMS brought in Federal Hill business owners and members of the Federal Hill Business Association (FHBA) to participate in the final interview process.

“She did a lot of grant writing and really improved an area of Mount Vernon,” said Stoner. “What also really stuck out was her experience at Maryland Therapeutic Riding where she had experience working with a board.”

“Cathy raising around $5 million for Mount Vernon Place Conservancy really sparked our interest with how much we have to fundraise and bring in,” Stoner added. Rosenbaum also helped Maryland Therapeutic Riding raise about $1 million a year.

“She’s a complete go-getter and is blending right in. You’ll see her around everywhere in Federal Hill and it won’t be long before she’s the mayor of Federal Hill,” he said. “That’s the kind of person we need.”

FHMS currently has an operating budget of around $100,000 a year.

“I love the enthusiasm here in Federal Hill,” said Rosenbaum. “We want to work together with everyone and make it succeed.”

FHMS works with more than 200 businesses in the business district, as well as the residents of the community, to promote Federal Hill. This includes planning events, marketing the neighborhood, and organizing neighborhood beautification and capital improvement projects. Federal Hill has a volunteer board, an Executive Director, and part-time staff.

Rosenbaum’s first goal as executive director is to increase the street cleaning and beautification around the neighborhood. Rosenbaum and FHMS will be hiring Living Classrooms Foundation for street cleaning on Wednesdays to Sundays. A staff of three will come out each day and clean the business district for three to four hours. The boundaries of FHMS are Montgomery St. to the north, Ostend St. to the south, S. Hanover St. to the west, and Light St. to the east.

FHMS is looking to fund this new cleaning crew through a South Baltimore Gateway Partnership (SBGP) grant. SBGP manages South Baltimore’s Casino Impact Grants.

Along with street cleaning, Rosenbaum wants to see brick maintenance along the sidewalks of Federal Hill and power washing.

FHMS has 33 flower pots around the neighborhood that will be adopted by businesses and individuals for maintenance. Rosenbaum is also looking to start a hanging basket program around the community. FHMS will maintain the tree pits as well.

Murals are another one of Rosenbaum’s goals for Federal Hill. FHMS is partnering with The Baltimore Station on a new mural on the side of One Star Country Club at 38 E. Cross St. which faces the “Marshall Street Alley” and is adjacent to the FHMS office at 42 E. Cross St.

Cross Street Market developer Caves Valley Partners (CVP) is also partnering with Pizza Boli’s on a mural for both businesses on the side of Pizza Boli’s wall at 13 E. Cross St. which faces Patapsco St.

Rosenbaum also wants to see more string lighting installed across the streets of the business district.

Rosenbaum says she will be putting together a strategic marketing plan for Federal Hill, but wants to first make sure the business district is clean and well-maintained so it is more marketable. “We are going to define our brand which will embrace residents, businesses, and tourists,” said Rosenbaum.

She hopes to see more wayfinding signs between Downtown, the Inner Harbor, and Federal Hill in the future.

FHMS will continue its yearly festivals and will be adding some new ones to the mix. The Spring Block Party (which will become CrushFest), Jazz & Blues Festival, the golf tournament, Neighborhood Lights for Light City, Small Business Saturday, and December holiday events will continue. CrushFest and Jazz & Blues Festival will move from Sunday to Saturday events.

New events will include a Ravens kickoff and a car show. Rosenbaum said she is also interested in adding a family-friendly event at Federal Hill Park. FHMS is now partnering with local company BMore Around Town to run the events.

FHMS is also partnering with CVP and its leasing team CANAdev on a Saturday morning farmers’ market that will run from 8am to 12pm from April to October. The Saturday morning farmers’ market is one of the reasons festivals were moved to Saturdays in hopes of keeping the family-friendly vibe in the neighborhood all day.

Rosenbaum also said FHMS will continue one of its core missions of working with partners to fill vacant storefronts with new businesses. She’s hoping to build a strong relationship with local realtors and put together a presentation to pitch Federal Hill to potential business owners.

Rosenbaum said she’ll be working with local artist Crystal Moll and local art schools to fill vacant storefronts with artwork. “We want them to look more vibrant and tell our story,” she said.

The board of FHMS is currently working on an effort to make Federal Hill a Business Improvement District (BID). This would put a fee on commercial properties in Federal Hill and that money would be used to fund cleaning and greening, private security in the community, capital improvement projects, and homeless outreach.

Stoner said Federal Hill is looking to copy the success of Fells Point with its recent addition of Waterfront Partnership, which was also funded through a fee on properties and provides the same services. He noted it’s possible Waterfront Partnership could eventually expand to Federal Hill.

FHMS would need to get enough property owners on board to launch the BID. Stoner thinks the success in Fells Point is a good selling point. “They rave about the improvements in Fells Point,” he said.

He also noted businesses like Abbey Burger Bistro have locations in both places and have seen the difference it can make.

FHMS hopes to eliminate the Federal Hill Retail Business District License (RBDL) which business properties currently pay for.

The BID would become a committee within FHMS and have its own staff. “It takes all the infrastructure projects into an infrastructure department,” said Stoner.

Many of the businesses in Federal Hill have been demanding additional security measures in the neighborhood since early 2018. Private security patrols were launched for a brief period of time and funded by the bars in Federal Hill, but didn’t last without a permanent funding mechanism. A BID in Federal Hill would change that.

“People aren’t coming to retail establishments if the area isn’t thought to be safe,” said Stoner. He noted crime problems around Baltimore have had an impact on all neighborhoods in the city. “It’s perception,” he said, adding that FHMS and many in the Federal Hill business community feel private security can help. Stoner also referenced the success of Harbor East which has had private security for many years.

Stoner said as a BID neighborhood, FHMS would stimulate conversation about short-term, medium-term, and long-term capital improvement projects. He is hoping the BID can be established within the next year or two. In the meantime, FHMS will work on its outreach to property owners and focus on fundraising to accomplish its short-term goals.

Photos of Cathy Rosenbaum courtesy of Federal Hill Main Street 

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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.