Mayor Brandon M. Scott's Remarks at the Downtown Partnership's Annual State of Downtown Breakfast
Monday May 9th, 2022
Better Schools. Safer Streets. Stronger Neighborhoods.
Good morning everyone. Thank you for being here today. I want to recognize Shelonda, Mark Wasserman, and the entire Downton Baltimore team for your continued partnership and collaboration as we collectively move our city forward.
I also want to recognize: Senate President Bill Ferguson, MD Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill, Senator Antonio Hayes, Delegate Brooke Lierman, Councilman Antonio Glover, Councilman Robert Stokes.
A huge shoutout to Mayor Murphy and our entire ULI expert panel for affirming Baltimore’s bright future and for helping us advance that vision forward, while providing candid feedback and recommendations on how we build on our successes.
And I also want to acknowledge:, Irene Agustin, Mayor's Office of Homeless Services, Chris Ryer, Department of Planning, Laurie Schwartz, Waterfront Partnership, Eric Souza, Midtown Community District, Director Mitchell from DPW, and last but certainly not least, Councilman Eric Costello – one of the hardest-working and most vocal-advocates for Downtown, not only on the City Council but any and everywhere.
The bright light of Baltimore’s renaissance is on the horizon and I want to thank everyone here for helping us move towards our shared vision for a more vibrant, stronger city.
Our downtown core is becoming a thriving economic center for women- and Black- and Brown-owned businesses that showcases the best that Baltimore has to offer. The beating heart of our city’s economy.
It has become the fastest growing residential area in our city, more people live in our downtown than ever before, with greater density and mixed income housing.
Most importantly, we are working to transform Downtown into an area where everyone feels welcome, both residents from across our city, as well as our regional, national, and international visitors. And we will make that transformation together
We have ambitious goals, but every day we are moving closer and closer to achieving them.
Last year, when I presented to the Downtown Partnership, I was repeatedly asked if I had news about the future of Harborplace. I was determined not to have to stand before you today and report out that news about Harborplace is still on its way. Thankfully - not that you haven’t all heard - that isn’t the case. I am excited that Dave Bramble will be our partner on Harborplace!
I am enthusiastic about the future of Downtown. This is why my Administration is committing $1m to Mr. Bramble in pre-development capital to reimagine the Harborplace and this is only the beginning of our partnership.
I also want to thank Senate President Bill Ferguson, Delegate Maggie McIntosh, and Speaker Adrienne Jones for their tireless efforts in Annapolis to secure funding to make this dream a reality.
With this kind of strong public and private partnership, I am certain that together we can transform our city’s core into a thriving center for commerce, residential growth, and tourism.
We have made a strong commitment to downtown: $4.9 Million in ARPA funding to complete the redevelopment of the new $40m Lexington Market, where approximately 50% of the vendors will be Black-owned.
We were also able to secure the $150 Million private sector investment by Oak View Partners to redevelop the Royal Farms Arena. On top of that we have my fellow Saint Mary’s alum Jayson Williams who will soon be redeveloping the Super Block north of the Arena.
I anticipate additional complimentary ARPA investments in the next 60 days.
Not to mention that we’ve facilitated more than $200m in public-private investment in downtown’s westside over the past year.
With these investments and with more to come my administration is and will remain committed to downtown.
I sincerely believe that Baltimore cannot become the best version of itself without a world-class Downtown area that reflects the true essence of Baltimore and all that makes us Charm City.
As we look to the future of downtown, I want to thank the efforts of the Partnership and Urban Land Institute. I had a chance to meet with the Panel. I support their recommendations and are looking at creative ways to help finance inclusive growth and development. Their thoughtful evaluation and recommendations as well as their expertise will help us take downtown to the next level.
I’m excited to inform this group that the Tax Credit Working Group, Co-Chaired by Shelonda Stokes and Councilman Costello will start their work in June.
We are going to continue our momentum and encourage growth, both downtown and in our neighborhoods.
With investment on the books and planned, the State of Downtown is strong. So strong, we did not lose our downtown population during COVID as others did. Since the last census, the population of Downtown has increased 61% and occupied housing units in the area have increased 83%.
It is so important that we continue to highlight and build on this growth. I want to thank folks like Brad Byrnes and Ray Crump – Werner’s – for their advocacy and, more importantly, for betting on Downtown Baltimore’s bright future.
However, I know that more needs to be done to move us towards that vision. I recognize, have heard, and understand the deep concerns of our downtown community, with respect to public safety.
The cumulative events of the past several weeks have not sat well with me after our incredible collective success during the CIAA. And as we look towards the future of Downtown, we have to address the dual challenge of Public Safety for visitors, as well as residents who live and work downtown.
My administration is working across the city to implement our community-centered and data driven public safety strategy that combines targeted interventions with violence interruption and an optimization of police resources.
After hearing your concerns, I have directed BPD to initiate special deployments - such as increased foot patrols and bicycle officers - that will be in place to address the anticipated increase in teenagers and young adults around the Inner Harbor.
I am committing to having a BPD leader at the Major level or above to attend bi-weekly Partnership safety meetings to communicate our weekly plans and any anticipated concerns.
My administration will work to accommodate the business community’s generous pledge of new cameras downtown to be integrated into Citiwatch.
Let me acknowledge the issues of the last 4 weeks. These events do not contribute to my vision for a safe, vibrant, and welcoming Downtown for all. For this reason, I want to be clear on two things: 1st. Baltimore’s youth have a right to enjoy Downtown. 2nd. I will not tolerate any behavior by anyone which threatens others’ safety.
We talked about BPD’s plan and in conjunction with this plan, my team is developing a citywide program for youth engagement. This will begin Saturday, May 28, at Rash Field
This plan includes building up activities such as the return of midnight basketball, engaging schools and holistic programming on weekends, movie nights in our wonderful parks, game nights, social services and expanding job opportunities for the yout
Later this week, I’ll announce ways for young people and their families to access safe, fun activities during the summer months.
Baltimore has shown the world time and time again, we are up to meeting and overcoming any obstacle thrown our way.
We’re emerging from the pandemic, continuing to build and grow our downtown core and neighborhoods across the city.
We recently supported Waterfront Partnership’s launch of the Baltimore by Baltimore festival series to showcase the best Baltimore has to offer.
And I am excited to announce that the fireworks will take place on July 4th for the first time in 2 years! We’re partnering with the Orioles, PNC, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, and BOPA to put on a truly special event that will include incredible musical and cultural programming.
It's not one versus the other but uplifting all of Baltimore together and creating equity and prosperity for all. Our vision for Downtown must reflect our vision for Baltimore as a whole. And this can only be realized through active partnership between the private sector, public sector, and community.
I look forward to working with you all to realize this vision and can’t wait to report back our progress soon! Thank you.