Baltimore developer to ‘re-imagine’ port acquisition of port as hub of revitalized waterfront – Baltimore Sun

Baltimore developer P. David Pramble and his MCB real estate company entered into an agreement in the 1980s to acquire HarperPlace, once a central hub for the Baltimore Inner Harbor redevelopment.

The deal, if approved by a Baltimore Circuit Court judge overseeing the receipts, would pave the way for Bramble’s’ attempt to “completely re-imagine” the faded retail business attraction and revitalize the city’s downtown waterfront.

What exactly that transformation will look like has not yet been determined, Bramble told The Baltimore Sun in an interview, and will be designed to assess what Bramble calls the “front porch” through the “big” and “comprehensive” social engagement and design process. Baltimore. “

“We want it to be local, we want it to be real, we want Baltimore to be better represented and we really want it to be a reflection of the whole city,” Pramble, along with partner Peter Pincard, said. Managing Partner of MCB.

Bramble described years of out-of-town ownership and the infiltration of national chains that eroded the local character of HarperPlace as the main reasons for the decline of innovative growth at one time.

Pramble declined to elaborate on the financial terms of the deal, which would allow his company to acquire the property It has been controlled by the New Jersey-based IVL Group LLC for almost three years. The sale agreement between the receiver and Bramble’s company MCB Real Estate is expected to be filed in court in the coming days.

“This is a great outcome for Baltimore and its residents,” said Ian Lagovitz, a court-appointed receiver and chief of the Trijild IVL Group. “We are pleased to announce that this sale will continue with MCB.”

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge appointed the IVL Group as receiver in May 2019. Former owner Ashkenazy Acquisitions Corp. Took the double pavilions out of the hands of the New York real estate company and bought the property in 2012 for $ 98.5 million and then did not repay. debt.

The iconic complex was established under the ownership of Ashkenazi, which fell into disrepair and saw tenants continue to evacuate, which was further exacerbated by the epidemic. Harborplace Company, Deutsche Bank Trust Co. At the request of Americas, HarborPlace leased Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Failed to pay the judgment of the case obtained by, obtained by order of the court.

Deutsche Bank Trust, the mortgagee’s trustee, sought recidivism in its court petition after Ashkenazi failed to repay its $ 76 million loan, saying it “needed help repairing the unfortunate collapse of the Harborplace over the past several years.” Many longtime tenants, including Urban Outfitters, Five Guys, Noodles & Co., La Tasca, Edo Sushi, Lennis, Fire & Ice and The Fudge, have left the pavilions during long-delayed renovations.

Earlier this year, H&M, a clothing retailer that had been anchoring the premises for more than a decade, closed and left a few tenants. Since the outbreak began, Ripley’s Believe-It-or-Not Auditorium, Built-a-Bear Workshop and Johnny Rockets Dinner have also been closed.

Harperplace, which was leased 48% at the end of February, reported total operating income of $ 494,626 and a loss of $ 195,393 in the first two months of this year, according to the most recent receiver report filed in court.

The government now estimates the two pavilions for tax purposes at about $ 23.5 million.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott says, “Today, we begin the new chapter for HarperPlace.” Dave has my full support and the support of my entire management as we breathe new life into this Baltimore milestone. The City Attorney has worked with him since the beginning of the receipt process, and I am convinced that this will be fruitful.

Asked if the city would provide financial assistance for development, Scott’s spokesman James Bentley said, “The mayor is committed to making Harbor Place a landmark for residents and visitors, and will consider requests for assistance.”

State Dell, a member of the Baltimore Democrats and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Maggie McIntosh said lawmakers have raised more than $ 60 million for infrastructure projects around the inland port – including the Rash Field Park expansion – a major port redesign effort in the state budget.

“I’m excited about this developer because he is [Bramble] He grew up in Baltimore, lives in the city, and graduated from City College, ”said McIntosh. “His whole life has been invested in this city. He is the one who has to change the inner port.”

“In the 1970s, William Donald Schaefer, another son of West Baltimore, had a vision of what this area of ​​Baltimore would look like with some investment and hard work,” said Baltimore Democratic Senate President Bill Ferguson. “I can not be happier that David accepted this challenge to fulfill the Harperplace promise to future generations of Baltimoreans.”

Bramble, a Baltimore native and Madison Park resident, has created a growing portfolio in recent years that includes many developments in Baltimore and nationally. His company is behind the Yard 56 project in Greektown, which tapped into the city’s first federal opportunity zone investment, and received part of the growth of the Clipper Mill and Rotunda. Little, a German grocery retailer, has signed on to open its first Baltimore store this year at the Northwood Plaza shopping center near Morgan State University, which is being redesigned as MCB Northwood Commons.

Harborplays has attracted national attention since its opening in 1980 to a crowd of admirers and spectators. The retail complex built by The Roose Co. served as a major attraction in Baltimore Inner Harbor and helped promote waves of similar watershed redevelopment projects in cities. Nationwide.

But Harperplace has been in decline for more than a decade, with some seeing it as rising vacancies, crumbling buildings and mismanagement by some owners. Philips Seafood, one of the original tenants, left in 2011.

Pramble matched HarperPlace’s struggles in a combination of failure to adapt to changing times, neglect of past owners and loss of local ties.

“When it opened, it was a huge success: it’s cool, it’s local, it’s real,” said Bramble. Let’s bring things up.

He called Harborplace ‘”structured environment” “a catastrophe” – and Bramble imagines the use of the waterfront’s appeal of a major downtown intersection. He considers a successful project to inspire downtown’s traditional business district, where businesses have struggled to move out, with some relocating to the new Harbor East and Harbor Point east of Inner Harbor.

“People like that connection with water,” he said. “Our job is to redesign the structured environment, redesign everything and redesign the structured environment in a way that makes all of us very excited about the Central Business District in Baltimore.”

Many leading voices in the Baltimore business community welcomed the news on Tuesday. Donald C., CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. Fry said the market is calling on local developers or investors who understand Baltimore’s heritage, diversity and current needs to redevelop HarborPlace.

“The good news is that at some point Baltimore’s international calling card will emerge from long-standing receipts and once again become an anchor city and a hub of activity for city dwellers and visitors,” Fry said in a statement.

This is a growing story, yet to come.

Baltimore Sun reporter Emily Opilo contributed to this article.

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