BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It was once the crown jewel of downtown Baltimore, but now there are new troubles for Harborplace- the tourist destination at Pratt and Light Streets has been put into receivership- taking the property out of the hands of its owners based in New York, the Ashkenazy Acquisitions Corporation.
“This should be the gem of our downtown area, instead it’s not, it’s disheartening and frustrating,” said Shawn Flaherty, who lives in Fells Point and works in the city.
Ashkenazy bought Harborplace in 2012, now hallways are mostly empty, vacancies are common and you can see the disrepair. Recent departures include Urban Outfitters, M&S Grill, Five Guys and the Fudgery.
“You have organizations like Living Classrooms Foundation, Historic Ships of Baltimore doing everything they can to make the waterfront of Baltimore all it can be, and then you have an out of state developer that clearly doesn’t care,” Flaherty said.
Shalik Smith of Cedonia brings his children to Harborplace often but said the recent unrest there is a problem.
“The tourists that do come down, if they do see it they’ll say I don’t want to go down there because they don’t want to run into stuff like that- and I don’t blame them. I live here and I don’t want to run into stuff like that, we come out to enjoy ourselves and be happy,” Smith said.
The president of the Waterfront Partnership said the receivership is a positive move.
“It means there’s some action being taken, for too long Harborplace has been on a decline even though there have been some tenants, but more tenants have left and it hasn’t held the strength for the Inner Harbor that it used to hold and that we expect it to hold,” said Laurie Schwartz, president of the Waterfront Partnership.
Harborplace opened on July 2, 1980, to throngs of people, an estimated 100,000 people came downtown as Mayor William Donald Schaefer and developer James Rouse spoke at the opening ceremonies.
“Come down to Harborplace, the greatest place in the United States,” said Schaefer.
Now, the city judge’s order appoints a trustee for Harborplace, possibly paving the way for the sale of this once thriving downtown Baltimore landmark.