By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,

The design for Harborplace’s transformation has been unveiled. MCB Real Estate managing partners, David Bramble and Peter Pinkard, joined Mayor Brandon Scott and Governor Wes Moore on Monday to release plans for a mixed-use development with outdoor spaces that can be used for living, gathering, playing, eating and shopping. 

The new Harborplace design was informed by an extensive community engagement process that included input from tens of thousands of Baltimoreans. 

“Harborplace is the beating heart of Baltimore— the place that is uniquely Baltimore that brings us all together. In recent years, it has reflected the mood of the city but not the hope of the city,” said Bramble in an MCB press release. “This project and this design activates the waterfront in a way that ensures it is for everyone in our city, our region and our state. We prioritized listening to the community to hear what they wanted and married it to what could actually be built. I’m so proud to share these plans with all of Baltimore because we deserve an internationally-renowned waterfront that belongs to all of us.” 

Harborplace’s design team comprises several local and international architecture firms and consultants, including Gensler, 3XN, BCT Design Group, Sulton Campbell Britt and Associates, Unknown Studio Landscape Architecture, The Traffic Group, RK&K and Biohabitats. 

The new Harborplace will include a park, a two-tiered promenade and four new buildings with commercial and residential uses. (Photo Courtesy of Our Harborplace)

Key to the design was making the water more accessible to city residents, according to Gensler principal Vaki Mawema.

“We have an incredible waterfront that is effectively cut off from our two iconic Downtown, defining streets of Light and Pratt, and what a missed opportunity,” said Mawema. “If you’re standing on Light or Pratt, you literally cannot see the water. You cannot see our own water from a street that is less than one block from the water’s edge.” 

The project’s reorientation of the Pratt and Light Street intersection will provide greater water views and help to make the area safer for pedestrians. 

In total, the project will include four new buildings. On Pratt Street, a 200,000-square-foot commercial building with an open ground floor and community meeting spaces will be built, as well as a 200,000-square-foot retail and commercial building with restaurants and a publicly-accessible rooftop park. 

Near the intersection of Light and Pratt Street, an 9,500-square-foot retail building will be constructed as part of the soon-to-be Park at Freedom’s Port, which will cover 30,000 square feet and include a 2,000-seat amphitheater. On Light Street, a conjoined residential tower will be built with 900 residential units and retail and commercial space.

Where McKeldin Square sits today, the Park at Freedom’s Port will be built. It will include a 2,000-seat amphitheater and elevated space for dining. (Photo Courtesy of Our Harborplace)

“We know we want to create the greatest, most wonderful Inner Harbor in the world. We believe in it, and we know we can do it,” said Mawema. “But, our particular Inner Harbor is right in the middle of Downtown, so in doing that we can set ourselves up to create the greatest Downtown in the world. We see Harborplace as an experience that is part of a broader experience—a broader experience of Baltimore as a whole.”

The state of Maryland is providing $67.5 million for Harborplace’s redevelopment. This investment builds on the governor’s commitment to economic development in Baltimore. 

“This is an important and major step forward to ensuring that we can fulfill a generational promise. Harborplace is an important lynchpin of bringing a sense of, not only commerce to Baltimore but also of community,” said Moore in an MCB press release. “This is going to be Maryland’s decade but in order to do that it must be Baltimore’s time.”

Megan Sayles is a Report For America corps member.