November Compass -eNews from Baltimore Planning

View of harbor from Federal Hill with Compass Logo
The Compass is a monthly eNewsletter of the Baltimore City Department of Planning.

November, 2013

A Message from the Director…

The Inner Harbor is a success story that helped put Baltimore on the map, and made Baltimore City a global model for urban planning and development.  In 1984, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) called our inner harbor and its public promenade “one of the supreme achievements of large-scale urban design and development in U.S. history.”

Inner Harbor 2.0 is a plan for reinvesting in Baltimore’s jewel so that current and future generations of Baltimoreans can enjoy this incredible public asset, and the City and State can continue to benefit from the attraction of tourists from throughout the region, the nation and the world. 

On Wednesday, November 13th at 11 am, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake will join me and representatives from our partners in this effort – the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, the State of Maryland, the Greater Baltimore Committee, and our consultant team from Ayers Saint Gross – to publicly release Inner Harbor 2.0. 

In addition to the plan's official release, there will be an open house at the Baltimore Visitors Center where the public can get more information about the plan.  The Visitors Center has extended their hours through 7 pm that day so anyone interested in the plan can come and take a look at some of the ideas and proposals for making the Inner Harbor greener, safer and more vibrant.

We look forward to your feedback, and another forty years of waterfront success.


Thomas J. Stosur, Director


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CIP SPOTLIGHT: Oliver Multi-Purpose Center

The Capital Improvement Plan, or CIP, is a very important role of the Planning Department, and its projects have the potential to transform communities.  Each month The Compass will highlight a project from the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP).  This month’s featured project is the Oliver Multi-Purpose Center.

Picture of Renovated Oliver Center

The building at 1400 East Federal Street currently houses the Mayor’s Office of Human Services, The Dawson Community Center, the Community Action Center, The Community Association and Recreation and Parks.

The renovations include extending ADA accessibility up to the Third Level (2nd Fl.) by converting an old abandoned stair well, into an elevator. In addition, the restrooms are being upgraded to meet code.   

Closeup of Oliver Center Side Door

On the Second Floor the doors and frames will be replaced with fire rated doors and finished to improve fire ratings. These safety improvements will bring the building up to code, and create a safer environment for all who use the center.

Total Construction Cost:          $ 277,000.00

CIP 101:

The Baltimore City Charter requires that the Planning Commission annually prepare a six-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP).  The first year of each six-year program becomes the capital budget for the upcoming fiscal year and is the basis for the capital component of the Ordinance of Estimates, which is adopted by City Council. 

Baltimore City CIP: What are Federal Funds?

The City receives a variety of loans and grants from the federal government.  Larger federal loan and grant programs have specific sources. 

Two of the larger Federal programs are the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG) and Federal Economic Development Grants.  CDBG funds are used for operating and capital programs and projects and awards Community Development Block Grants to community partners. 

The Federal Economic Development Administration provides funding for operating and capital, economic planning, technical assistance, marketing and feasibility studies. 


Inner Harbor 2.0: 

DRAFT Inner Harbor Master Plan to be Released This Week

Inner Harbor 2.0’s vision is to create and re-create quality open spaces, parks, playgrounds, interactive water features and artwork that will spark the imagination and respond to our changing values and needs.  The plan also proposes to add landscaping and shade areas, plus new opportunities for enjoying the area by bike and over the water. 

Photo of people enjoying the Inner Harbor

Principles Guiding the Plan:

  • Be authentic to Baltimore and Maryland,
  • Respect the history of and pride for the Inner Harbor,
  • Recognize connections to the Chesapeake Bay and the importance of clean water,
  • Build on the strength of the National Aquarium and Maryland Science Center,
  • Create new free amenities and attractions, and
  • Anticipate the impacts of climate change.

Picture of Harborplace Tree in Bloom with Outdoor Seating

Since the grand opening of Harbor Place in 1980, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has provided entertainment, education, and enjoyment for people of all ages.  Over forty years later, its time to invest in our Harbor’s future. 

Since Baltimore’s harbor was first redeveloped, the City has seen an incredible amount of growth and change, including new office buildings, new hotels, new residential units and residential rehabilitation in waterfront neighborhoods all along the public waterfront promenade from Canton to Locust Point. 

Most recently, Harbor East has grown into a very successful mixed-use neighborhood where a diverse array of people can live, work and play.

Photo of Fit Fest Participants in Harbor East

That is why it has become so important to reinvest in our Inner Harbor’s future - to take advantage of the growth it has enabled, and to ensure that we are prepared to continue to meet the needs of existing residents of a growing waterfront city, while also attracting new residents, businesses and tourists for another forty years, and more.

We’re listening… Citizen Survey Results 

As part of Inner Harbor 2.0, the Department of Planning collaborated with the Waterfront Partnership to conduct an online survey that collected responses from over 650 interested Baltimore citizens.  The following reflects citizen feedback about what people like, and would like to change about the Inner Harbor.

Picture of Joggers on Waterfront Promenade in Canton

When asked, “What do you like most about the Inner Harbor?” the most frequent responses were:

Photo of Promenade at Tidepoint with Hammock and Adirondack Chairs

  • Walkability,
  • Access to the waterfront and views of the Harbor,
  • Diversity of people,
  • The Promenade,
  • People watching, and
  • Outdoor activities.

When asked, “If you could change ONE thing about the Inner Harbor, what would you do?” the most frequent answers were:

  • Clean up the water,
  • Add green space, shade trees and parks,
  • Increase locally owned shops and restaurants,
  • Protect and enhance views, and
  • Improve and update Harbor Place.

Photo of kids enjoying splash fountain

When asked, “What types of shops restaurants or attractions would you like to see MORE of in the Inner Harbor?” the most frequent responses were:

  • More casual and inexpensive restaurant options,
  • Locally owned shops,
  • Parks and open space with activities,
  • A farmers market,
  • Specialty shops and cafes, and
  • Breakfast and coffee spots.
Photo of kids playing at Pierce's Park

Creating a Healthy Harbor

The success of Baltimore and its Inner Harbor depends upon a healthy environment and clean water.  Inner Harbor 2.0 is tied closely to the Healthy Harbor Initiative that aims to make the Harbor "fishable and swimmable" by 2020. 

To accomplish that goal, a variety of "living laboratory" projects are being implemented throughout the harbor, including floating wetlands, rain gardens, bio-retention of stormwater, and oyster restoration.  New projects that could contribute to the health of the harbor are being integrated into Inner Harbor 2.0.

Photo of floating wetlands in front of World Trade Center Baltimore

Linking to Climate Action Planning and Critical Area Program

Rising tides and flooding are already starting to impact Baltimore and could cause additional damage to the promenade and its wooden piers.  The impacts are most visible at the public amphitheater between the two Harbor Place Pavilions, the lowest point in the Inner Harbor. 

High tides that rise above the promenade cause a hazard and disrupt activities in the area, including water taxi loading.  Inner Harbor 2.0 proposes to raise the grade of the amphitheater at the waters' edge to help prevent future flooding.  This will have the added benefit of meeting ADA standards to create a more accessible experience for everyone.

Photo of new Pier 4 pedestrian bridge

For more information please visit the Waterfront Partnership's Inner Harbor 2.0 website, where the draft plan will be posted following the official release on November 13th. 

Inner Harbor 2.0 will also be available on the Planning Department website, here.