Baltimore got a look this week at new renderings of the proposed $500 million redesign of Harborplace — and reactions aren’t as glowing as developers might hope.

The reimagined Haborplace would include four new buildings and nearly 1,000 new residential units, along with shops, restaurants, a park and an amphitheater. P. David Bramble and his firm, MCB Real Estate, which is spearheading the redevelopment, laid out their vision for the Inner Harbor area on Monday alongside government and business leaders.

The Baltimore Banner asked readers what they thought of the designs and received more than 80 comments. Although some found the proposed green space attractive, many strongly objected to the addition of apartment towers on Light Street.

“I like the amphitheater and greenery, but do not like the additional housing at the edge of the water as it will block views into the Inner Harbor,” Diane Hoffmann wrote, adding that she would have liked to see more fountains, art installations and unique shops and markets. “I was also hoping for more interactive activities, rather than simply housing.”

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This rendering shows the new buildings and new park space along downtown’s Light and Pratt streets. (MCB Real Estate)

What readers didn’t like: Residential towers along Light Street

The proposed housing development along Light Street makes for an “ugly,” “cluttered” and “unwelcoming” waterfront, readers said, with one reader calling the apartment towers “a joke of an eyesore.”

Mary Bianchi wrote that the high-rise buildings would block the view of the waterfront and seem “radically misplaced in this spot,” adding there’s “no grace in this plan, except possibly the amphitheater.”

Readers also raised concerns about how an influx of residents would impact parking near the Inner Harbor and questioned whether the plan included affordable housing.

“There are too many vacant homes in [Baltimore] already,” Lisa Jones wrote. “How would the same not be expected for most of the units in this new place?”

The overall reaction from Banner readers: The apartment towers don’t make sense.

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MCB Real Estate's proposed design includes an amphitheater. (MCB Real Estate)

What readers liked: Modern design, walkways and amphitheater

Reactions to the proposed designs weren’t all negative. The arched, stepped and scalloped shapes and the abundance of trees in the design drew praise from respondents.

David Sanders said the contemporary design offers “a much-needed face-lift” to the aging Harborplace but had concerns it might not have enough shops and restaurants for the volume of visitors expected.

Readers also appreciated elements of the design that enhanced pedestrian access and walkways.

“Love it. Glad the curved road onto Pratt is being eliminated,” Matt Garono wrote. “Adds some much-needed energy to the heart of downtown.”

Moira Bucciarelli liked plans for “more pedestrian and bike-friendly paths and green spaces that allow for community gatherings and social interactions!”

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Some readers also liked the design of the amphitheater, with one saying it could be big enough for a rally celebrating a Super Bowl or World Series win.

The designs are likely to evolve as MCB Real Estate gets more feedback from community members and civic leaders. Bramble has said it will take years for the firm to fully overhaul the complex.

Penelope Blackwell is a Breaking News 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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