Local developer David Bramble will join a host of colleagues, business partners, elected officials and community members to soon celebrate a milestone in the revitalization process of downtown Baltimore’s Harborplace.
Once considered a staple in the city, Harborplace had fallen into unfortunate circumstances in recent years with the departure of retailer after retailer.
However, Bramble, managing partner at MCB Real Estate, has led the effort in reimagining the future of Harborplace. In June, MCB Real Estate officially acquired the 3.2-acre waterfront parcel and now possesses full control of the property along with its two retail pavilions.
While the future of the shopping complex may seem unclear to many, Bramble is confident that he — along with the feedback, input and insight of community members and project partners — can breathe new life into “Baltimore’s front lawn.”
On Oct. 30, 2023 at 10 a.m., Bramble will lead an unveiling ceremony at Harborplace that will feature a rollout of the renderings that will reflect a shared vision for a new, improved and modernized Baltimore Harborplace.
Gov. Wes Moore and Mayor Brandon Scott are expected to attend.
“What you can expect to see is a vision for the future of Baltimore that is pedestrian-friendly, that is focused on the experience at the ground level, that most importantly enhances and focuses on the connectivity to the water,” Bramble said of the rendering rollout event.
Likewise, Vaki Mawema, managing director and principal at design firm Gensler, said “I think you’ll see through the images and through the story that we’re telling [is] this great desire that we have to transform Harborplace,” also reinforcing visibility of the waterfront.
Over the past several months, Bramble gathered community input by facilitating engagement meetings, which have played and will play a pivotal role in how MCB and the design firms move forward with the redevelopment plans of Harborplace.
“It’s been a huge community engagement process,” said Bramble, a West Baltimore native with more than 20 years of involvement in real estate development.
“We’ve been taking in those ideas, iterating on those ideas, combining them with our thoughts and ideas as well to put together something that we think is both amazing and executable.
“That’s what we’ve been doing up until now, and now the next step is to actually show everybody, based on what we’ve heard from you and what we think makes sense, we’ve melded those things together and here’s where we think this design should go. So that’s what’s going to happen on the 30th. People are actually going to get to see some pictures.”
After the renderings are unveiled, the next step will be hearing local residents’ responses as “we go through the regulatory process to get approved,” Bramble said.
MCB hired four firms to assist with the design and architectural process of the project. Of those four, Gensler is leading the design team.
Several guiding principles, or pillars, have shaped the redevelopment process thus far, some of which are:
- Keeping it local: Based on the research and observations of this project’s leaders, people are drawn to authenticity and are more likely to support local businesses and products that highlight the “best of Baltimore.” Recreating a Harborplace that is local, unique and intriguing will make the site a major attraction like it was in its heyday, Bramble explained.
- Building an establishment with mixed uses: Building a mixed-use Harborplace, meaning that it will include an amalgamation of residential, retail, hospitality and potentially office-use, is another major focus area. According to real estate industry leaders, mixed-use development is a driving force in promoting economic sustainability and growth. Accessibility, walkability and visibility — particularly of the water — are other focus areas for MCB and the development/design teams.
- Public safety: A site with a blend of commercial, entertainment, residential and tourist activity is more conducive to safer environments, Bramble highlighted. Conversely, a place devoid of productive activity may lead to less desirable outcomes.
- Building equitably: “We want to make sure that this project reflects thinking very broadly about who belongs here, which is everybody,” Bramble said. “How do we get this project to reflect a space that everyone wants to use, feel
scomfortable using, feels invited to?”
Bramble has fond memories of visiting various Harborplace establishments as a youngster. He believes the complex can reach, or even surpass, the potential it saw during its peak era once the revitalization efforts materialize.
Of the estimated 14 million square feet of property that MCB owns, Harborplace — which only occupies 200,000 square feet — is among the most important revitalization projects that the firm has taken on.
“It’s absolutely huge and exciting,” Bramble said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”