Baltimore’s downtown Harborplace will welcome a handful of new temporary tenants in the coming weeks, even as MCB Real Estate plans to eventually tear down the two pavilions along the waterfront.

On Wednesday, the Baltimore-based development company said an art showcase, tech incubation and youth engagement center, a pop-up store and an all-day breakfast spot will open in the Light Street Pavilion.

David Bramble, managing partner at MCB Real Estate, detailed the firm’s plans for redevelopment of the Inner Harbor during a public briefing session earlier this month, including the decision to raze the two pavilions.

The timeline for demolition isn’t yet known, but is likely still years away. In the meantime, new local tenants will move in.

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“We are incredibly excited to see MCB filling up the pavilions with temporary tenants while planning and design work is underway,” said Laurie Schwartz, president of Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore. “These tenants will help activate Harborplace and add more vibrancy to the Inner Harbor for the next few years.”

Founder Ursula Spencer explained that she is often asked why she relocated and launched Dope Nerds, a STEAM/Tech incubation and youth engagement space, in Baltimore. It’s because she “wholeheartedly” believes Baltimore is on the cusp of a renaissance and “Baltimore’s recent designation as a federal tech hub validates this belief,” she said.

“Being downtown will inevitably bringing in both curious minds and potential B2B [business to business] and B2G [business to government] partners. Our focus isn’t just on cool gadgets — we aim to be a nexus where the future of VR and AI technology meets its practical applications, paving the way for high-growth, high-paying careers for youth and innovative solutions for businesses and government,” Spencer said.

Residents and tourists will soon find Dope Nerds, the Made In Baltimore department pop-up store of certified locally made products, and Saturday Morning Café, all on the pavilion’s first floor.

Specializing in Southern breakfast food, Saturday Morning Café head chef William Sterling said this second location will be an “outstanding growth” opportunity for the cafe’s concept.

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“We are so excited to be part of the Harborplace redevelopment. We believe being in the heart of the Inner Harbor, near the Aquarium, the Science Center, the Convention Center and other special events – all-day breakfast on the water makes a great addition to the new Harborplace expected to come,” he added.

And the Creatively Black Baltimore Art Installation curated by Poncho Brown will feature more than 100 Black Baltimore artists showcasing their work along waterfront on the second floor of the pavilion.

“The move downtown means greater exposure,” Paris Brown, associate publisher of The Baltimore Times, wrote in a statement to The Banner “These [art] products are most often displayed at farmer’s markets in and around Baltimore city. Now we will have an opportunity to enjoy this shopping experience in the heart of our city — the Baltimore Inner Harbor, along with the unique cultural and artistic expression it brings.”

The new shops will join Baltimore-based Crust by Mack and Matriarch Coffee, which both have set up temporary spots inside the pavilions.

Bramble has said Harborplace’s waterfront will be redesigned around a mix of amenities that draw people to the city’s core, including a newly renovated CFG Bank Arena, two professional sports stadiums, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore and the National Aquarium, according to previous reporting from The Baltimore Banner.

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“We’re going to make this the heartbeat of the city. It’s going to be vibrant and exciting, there’ll be public space, there’ll be lots of restaurants, hopefully a lot of cool, local concepts, places to hang out, drink, entertain yourself, all those things, and there will also be people living all around downtown,” he said earlier in October.

Penelope Blackwell is a Breaking News/Accountability reporter with The Banner. Previously, she covered local government in Durham, NC, for The News & Observer. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Morgan State University and her master’s in journalism from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. 

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