I am writing to express my frustration with the lack of transparency surrounding the future of Harborplace.
Baltimore’s approval of a lease amendment earlier this year to transfer Harborplace to developer MCB Real Estate only adds to the suspicion that town halls, such as the one June 3 at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, are not truly meant to involve the public in the decision-making process. MCB Real Estate already has a concept in place for what it plans to do with Harborplace, but the company is not telling the public what its plans are.
I am advocating for a livable downtown concept at Harborplace. The decline of the area due to lack of investment, fear of crime and seasonal limitations is a major concern for the community. I believe high-rise buildings featuring retail on the ground floor and condos and apartments above is the solution to promote year-round taxable income, improve the school district, and encourage people to relocate and live downtown. This would ultimately transform the area into a safe, modern and thriving commerce and residential hub.
The current state of Harborplace is a shadow of its former self. The entertainment village is no longer able to attract visitors and generate revenue throughout the year. This has resulted in a decline in taxable income, which has hurt the school district and discouraged people from relocating and living downtown. The fear of crime has also made the area less attractive to visitors and potential residents.
I urge the city of Baltimore to embrace the livable downtown concept at Harborplace. It would ultimately transform the area into a safe, modern and thriving commerce and residential hub.
I also urge our leaders and MCB Real Estate to be more transparent about their plans for Harborplace and to involve the community in the decision making. The future of Harborplace is too important to be decided behind closed doors, and the community deserves to have a say in the development of this crucial area.
Tom Gouker, Baltimore
Gov. Moore understands power, value, relevance of Maryland’s history
The power of history is something well known to historians and preservationists across Maryland, but hearing our governor recently make a compelling case for the critical value of history at this moment is reason to celebrate.
While addressing the graduating class of 2023 at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Gov. Wes Moore used his platform to detail the role that history — and an awareness of history — plays in public and private life. Among his references to the importance of our past, perhaps the strongest was: “I can think of few greater threats to our nation than this threat to our history — a threat that will have lasting consequences not only because those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it, but because those who do not learn their past will never know their own power.”
As leaders of two of the largest history and preservation organizations in the state of Maryland, we could not allow this moment to pass without recognizing that Gov. Moore put into words what our organizations have been dedicated to for nearly 271 years, collectively. The power, value, relevance and place for history in society is a cause to which we are both committed and that we practice in our daily work — with Preservation Maryland working to preserve, interpret and restore historic places and the Maryland Center for History and Culture collecting, interpreting and breathing life into objects, documents, and ephemera from our state’s long story.
We are thankful to have a governor who appreciates the power of history. Our organizations are committed to working with the new administration to address some of the challenges faced by historians, museums and preservation organizations here in Maryland.
Great strides have been made to invest in the history of Maryland communities long overlooked — but funding to bring many of those stories to life is still sorely lacking. Historical societies and preservation organizations across the state lack stable funding sources that would allow them to open and interpret new and diverse places from our past.
The upcoming 250th anniversary of the United States in 2026 also presents a unique opportunity to address this challenge — one that impacts every corner of our state. With a governor who understands both the importance and the opportunity, we are energized and ready to do the hard work to tell more of our state’s long — and sometimes complicated — story.
“A threat to any history is a threat to all history,” and here, in Maryland, our goal is to leave no history behind.
Katie Caljean, Baltimore
Katie Caljean is president and CEO of the Maryland Center for History and Culture
Nicholas Redding, Baltimore
Nicholas Redding is president and CEO of Preservation Maryland