BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Downtown Partnership released its annual report on the state of downtown Baltimore and there are concerns about the effects of the pandemic, but leaders with the organization are still optimistic.
“The areas that were impacted, as you can imagine more significantly tourism, restaurants, some of our cultural institutions… and those are the ones that we really have to rally behind now,” said Shelonda stokes, President of the Downtown Partnership.
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The organization had positive projections for 2020. Stokes said hotel accommodations were up and that was an indication that tourism was also up.
But now, Stokes said after conducting a survey with approximately 150 businesses, 94 percent said the pandemic affected them significantly.
“If you talked about it last year coming into this, it was an amazing time for us,” Stokes said. “All of the trends were up. talking about occupancy, business and tourism, all of those were trending well, and then COVID happened.”
Another area of concern is crime across the city. Homicides are up compared to the same time in 2019. 158 people were killed this time last year, compared to at least 164 so far in 2020.
Non-fatal shootings are down from 356 this time last year to 300 as of Tuesday, June 30.
“Any level of violent crime in unacceptable,” said Councilman Eric Costello.
But the councilman said overall, crime has decreased in the city, and he’s hopeful business owners will be able to recover.
“We want to be supportive of downtown, because we know when downtown is successful, the rest of the city can be successful,” said Costello.
The Downtown Partnership also wants to expand the central district’s economic footprint beyond the city center into every surrounding neighborhood.
Randy Bropleh owns Home-Maid, a Fed Hill restaurant less then two miles from downtown. He said when tourism is up, so is business.
“If you look at any major city, the traffic goes downtown,” he said. That’s where everything is happening. So when you have people coming into your downtown patronizing and indulging, and then sightseeing… if downtown does well, it can only spread.”
The Downtown Partnership said some businesses may not survive the coronavirus pandemic, and that’s why they are urging people to get out there and support local businesses.