Pact in Place to Assure Balto. Residents’ Involvement in Harbor Point

Developers of the Harbor Point site in downtown Baltimore say they are placing significant focus on the inclusion of city residents and minority and women-owned businesses as they move forward with their plans to reinvent the space.

Binding memorandums of understanding have already been signed between city officials and the project developers, Beatty Development Group, LLC (BDG), to ensure that all qualified Baltimoreans get an opportunity to build their city.

According to Sharon R. Pinder, director of the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Development (MWBD), the agreements are a first in the way the city handles business contracts and opportunities for relevant companies.

“There has never been a memorandum of understanding done with a private developer before,” said Pinder. “To have that in place- a level of commitment from a developer that includes a minority business- is a first for Baltimore.”

Pinder considered the memorandums of understanding “game changers” because the “biggest piece of the contracting pie is not government contracting -it’s what happens in the private sector.”

“This is a great step toward insuring that the private sector puts in place an inclusion strategy that provides opportunities for women and minority businesses,” she said.

The Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED) has also signed a memorandum of understanding.

Developers estimate that the project will mean 7,175 construction jobs and 6,611 permanent positions after construction is complete. Indirect employment opportunities as a result of Harbor Point are expected to number over 2,500.

The efforts to work with more local businesses and minorities have already resulted in many opportunities for Richard Jones, president of Mahan Rykiel Associates, a minority-owned landscape architecture, urban design and planning firm with offices on two continents.

The company worked with BDG in the planning of Harbor East, and was brought back to work on Harbor Point.

“It’s a huge opportunity for our business to position themselves not only regionally but nationally with our design work,” Jones told the {AFRO}. “There are more and more solid companies in landscape architecture and architecture engineering in the minority ranks that are looking for opportunities to get involved in projects like what’s going on in Harbor Point.”

“Beatty Development has been open-in our experience-to bringing on minority participants and really valuing them as partners.”

While the memorandums offer assurance of workforce diversity and a home-team advantage, others are still wary that Harbor Point jobs- for many reasons- won’t make it to the people who need to punch hours into the time clock the most.

“Under Council President Young’s drive on local hiring we came to an agreement that 51 percent of all new hires are to be local and 20 percent of all employees on-site are to be local,” said Michael Beatty, leader of the Beatty Development Group.

Beatty said that his team has met with numerous faith and community organizations to find where the breakdown between promised jobs and secured income occur when it comes to locals, minorities and women.

He said his studies into the matter show that sometimes the ease of access to transportation hinders those who need the jobs, other times it’s a lack of communication with area residents and minority communities about what is available in the way of work and job training- which leads to a lack of knowledge about the opportunities.

“It’s about listening and learning. This is an area where I think we can do a better job.”

A transplant from Long Island, N.Y., Beatty told the AFRO that the neighborhoods of Charm City are what drew him and his new bride into the Baltimore community years ago in 1990. What he thought would be a two or three year stop quickly turned into decades of work transforming the city.

Beatty says the same detailed planning has gone into making the site a vibrant residential area complete with 914 apartments, more than 195,000 square feet of retail space, and well over 1.5 million square feet in office space.

Once completed the project will include five public urban parks. As part of the revitalization process upgrades to the Crossroads School and local infrastructure are all planned along with hotels and private businesses.

Roughly 3,300 parking spaces will also be marked out to accompany the traffic that is sure to pick up as the project is completed in three phases over the next 12 years.

The development is expected to bring hundreds into the Baltimore-area who are looking to dine, shop, work, and live in affordable housing within walking distance of adequate public transportation.

“People are looking for things that are real,” said Beatty, they’re looking for neighborhoods, diversity, excitement, and I think that’s an opportunity.”

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Pact in Place to Assure Balto. Residents' Involvement in Harbor Point


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