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Harborplace vote delayed as community gives input on proposed redevelopment plan

Community gives input on the Baltimore Harborplace proposed redevelopment plan
Community gives input on the Baltimore Harborplace proposed redevelopment plan 01:00

BALTIMORE --  Baltimore's Harborplace, once the gem of downtown, is set for a makeover.

But, there are still hurdles ahead for redeveloping the land around the Inner Harbor.

The project needs approval from the public.

Baltimore's Planning Commission conducted a public hearing Thursday over legislation concerning plans for the re-imagined Harborplace. Community members provided feedback on a new vision for Baltimore's iconic waterfront.

The hearing focused on three bills that may pave the way for the reconstruction of Harborplace and the surrounding area.

The first bill would allow a zoning change at Harborplace. Another would amend the urban renewal plan at the site to include wiping out height restrictions and other new uses.

The third bill would allow Baltimore voters to consider allowing residential and off-street parking at the Harborplace site in a referendum on the November 2024 ballot.

The voting on the bills was delayed because of technical difficulties, Baltimore City Councilman Eric Costello said.

"Due to technological streaming issues during the Planning Commission hearing today, I have asked the Chairman to continue the hearing until December 21st and delay any action on the bills until that time," Costello said. "This decision was necessary out of an abundance of caution to ensure maximum transparency around this proposal."

MCB Real Estate, a Baltimore-based developer that acquired Harborplace last year, wants to raise the pavilions built 43 years ago and replace them with a luxury residential, retail, and commercial complex surrounded by a green space public park.

Plus, a redesigned streetscape at Pratt and Light streets

The plans have been met with mixed feelings from residents, which were partly expressed in a community informational session in South Baltimore earlier this month hosted by Councilman Eric Costello and MCB co-founder David Bramble. 

Currently, at the Inner Harbor, the Christmas Village resides as a temporary holiday experience. But, it's next to largely concrete Harborplace.

"Come down to Harborplace, the greatest place in the United States," former Baltimore Mayor William Schaeffer once said.

Harborplace was unveiled in 1980 and was billed as a cornerstone of downtown Baltimore's resurgence.

Several owners later, much of it, now, sits vacant.

"We can not stop until this project comes to fruition," Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said.

City and state officials, last month, revealed a plan to tear it down.

The proposed project would feature two residential towers, a new park and a promenade.

The West Baltimore developer said it would cost at least $500 million.

"The $500 million need to go to all those vacant homes and go to the homeless people," Baltimore resident Cookie Carroll said.

H&M and Bubba Gump Shrimp represent just a few of the businesses to have left the pavilion in recent years.

The Planning Commission hearing was not without a hitch. The City's Webex video feed wasn't working, leaving dozens who wanted to watch or testify virtually without an option. 

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