Too bad the Banner reporter who wrote about community reaction to Harborplace wasn’t around when James Rouse proposed the original Inner Harbor plan and that his research for the article was inadequate. I was there. I worked for an economics/market analysis firm that conducted the evaluations for the Inner Harbor West Urban Renewal Project.

The original plan was part of a comprehensive, federally funded project overseen by a public-private partnership — Charles Center/Inner Harbor Management. The internationally recognized urban design firm of Wallace Roberts & Todd performed detailed engineering and market evaluations.

Rouse had a successful track record in national mall development — including Baltimore’s Mondawmin Mall, the new city of Columbia and the mixed-use Baltimore development of Cross Keys. The Rouse Faneuil Hall festival marketplace in Boston was an international market and a successful tourist attraction in a former wholesale market area, not unlike what had existed at that time in Inner Harbor West. The proposed Rouse project consisted of a couple of relatively modest, two-story, retail/restaurant buildings along a waterfront promenade.

The Rouse proposal did not include millions of square feet of redevelopment or high-rise luxury, residential development, blocking the harbor views. Rouse had a successful track record of building and operating the type of development he proposed. He was not a bottom-fishing purchaser seeking hundreds of millions in public assistance.

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There was opposition from existing retailers, some of whom were struggling in the Howard/Lexington Street area, in the beginning. Some opposition also came from highly successful restaurateurs in Little Italy.

There was also the kind of selective opposition aimed at any development in the waterfront open space that had previously been a working harbor.

James L. Prost, Baltimore

James L. Prost is a charter member and former board member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

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