West Indies Flavour. Island Food Market. International Cutz. Heights Liquor. Dash Pizza Chicken & Seafood. YBI African Apparel & Fashion.

These and many more businesses are owned and operated by merchants in the Pimlico and Park Heights business corridor surrounding Pimlico Race Course. They share a desire to offer their products and services to the many thousands of people who come to their community for the Preakness.

The entire community benefits when its merchants can partner with Pimlico’s owners, others in the business community and government. The Pimlico Merchants Association and business owners are encouraged by the support they’ve received and by improvement projects now under way.

State Sen. Sandy Rosenberg helped us land funding under the fiscal 2022 Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Community Safety Works business district improvement program. We obtained $100,000 in funding through our participation in the Northwest Faith Partnership.

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We continue to partner with the Pimlico Community Development Authority to provide $100,000 in funding from Maryland casino gambling revenues to support business owners and merchants in the Park Heights community.

We also continue our work with the Baltimore Development Corporation on the façade improvement program, with help from Dan Taylor, BDC’s managing director of business and neighborhood development and several staff members. Mayor Brandon Scott, who has lived in the Parks Heights community, has emphasized directing assistance toward businesses such as ours that have weathered the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pimlico Merchants Association focuses on a variety of economic and community development efforts. We strive to be the economic engine that helps energize the community. The area the association serves is bounded by streets including Garrison Boulevard, Park Heights Avenue and Northern Parkway, representing the Pimlico business district.

Merchants in the licensed business district are working alongside the Pimlico Advisory Board. State legislators are ensuring that the Pimlico Redevelopment Compact Committee continues to build relationships among Pimlico, area businesses and others in the community.

Moving forward, we’d like to see stepped-up efforts to ensure public safety, support for clean and green development, and an overall better quality of life for everyone in the community, not just for the sake of the Preakness but for everyone, every day. One major step in that direction would be the presence of grocery stores with fresh and wholesome foods.

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Our merchants face the immediate challenges of reduced street parking along Park Heights Avenue and elsewhere during Preakness. Metered parking was once allowed.

Limited access to parking spaces denies potential customers the convenience and ease of visiting local establishments. This lack of parking availability forces patrons to either find alternative parking blocks away or, in some cases, simply choose not to visit at all. This directly impacts the foot traffic and sales potential for businesses that rely on local customers and event attendees. The city should explore options to mitigate the parking limitations on Park Heights Avenue and improve accessibility for customers.

The parking restrictions are just one of the challenges for local establishments to operate successfully during the Preakness and at other times. We urge the city of Baltimore to seek alternative solutions that support local businesses. It is vital to revisit the restrictions on alcohol sales, allowing nearby establishments to compete on an equal footing and attract customers during events held at Pimlico.

Certain actions would represent gestures of goodwill and cooperation with community residents and businesses.

Pimlico’s owners could help compensate business owners for the loss of business we experience during Preakness weekend when parking is restricted for two days.

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We’d appreciate receiving some of the beautiful flowers — including those sunflowers colored to represent Maryland’s state flower, the black-eyed Susan — for our Pimlico Golden Garden. Help with landscaping would make the entire corridor look festive for community and out-of-town guests.

By recognizing and addressing these issues, we can ensure that Pimlico truly serves as a catalyst for economic growth and prosperity in the community.

Yeshiyah Israel is president of the Pimlico Merchants Association.


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