Tag: inner harbor

Ripley’s Believe It or Not…Like It or Not

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Come one, come all to the Inner Harbor’s new center for “odd and amazing things!”…almost. Almost because the deal is still in the making to bring Baltimore a Ripley’s Believe It or Not to nestle among recent shiny additions like Bubba Gump Shrimp and H&M Clothing at the waterfront.

Call me a commercial cornball, but my fingers are actually crossed that Ripley’s will team up with General Growth Properties, the landlord of all Harbor attractions, and bring in a quirky/wacky new place to hang.

Aside from shopping and eating by the water, the only family-fun activity that comes to mind is touring the National Aquarium, which is cool, but one visit per year is plenty. Having a Ripley’s in the vicinity is a huge opportunity to keep people coming back. There will always be an endless supply of freaky things flowing in and out. Tim O’Brien, Ripley’s spokesman, told the Baltimore Business Journal they are hoping Ripley’s will pair well with the aquarium, allowing it to break into a market they have yet to conquer. Also to be added to their wishlist of 80 plus RBION locations worldwide are Chicago and Las Vegas, says O’Brien. The franchise is already successful in places like Hollywood, Mexico City, and of course New York.

Bring on the two-headed cows and the shrunken heads! Bring on the family-friendly funkiness; welcome the economic boost. What’s not to smile about here? General Growth Sr. Exec VP Alan Barocas recently said on WBAL-TV, “We’re taking a little bit of a different approach to our leasing effort. It is catering to families… We want to be able to adjust to every part of their lifestyle.” And Barocas is hoping Ripley’s will boost waterfront pavilion occupancy by 90 percent, and told WBAL that if the appearance of empty space in the pavilions makes you think there isn’t room for any more cool attractions, think again. The pavilion was originally designed to make room for future tenants.

Hopefully “i’s” will be dotted and “t’s” will soon be crossed so Ripley’s can join the sequin-clad street performers and sad, sunburned panhandlers among the harbor’s other “odd and amazing things.”

How would you feel about this addition? Believe in it, or not?

Violence at the Inner Harbor Provides Fodder for Mayoral Challengers

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After a fatal stabbing and a non-fatal shooting at the Inner Harbor on Independence Day, mayoral challengers were quick to present their explanations for the violence.

According to an article in The Baltimore Sun, Otis Rolley offered this rather simplistic syllogism: “When you fail to invest in education, when you fail to invest in rec centers, you can’t be surprised when you see this kind of violence.” State Senator Catherine Pugh reportedly blamed the two separate incidents on lead poisoning, which can cause behavior disorders.

Violent crime is a major issue for Baltimore, and it deserves a more realistic discussion. Surely, greater investment in education and community-building programs could have positive effects for the city, one of which might even be a decline in violent crime, and lead poisoning is a concern worthy of city-wide attention. But it is irresponsible to offer premature and politically convenient answers to what are specific, unsolved crimes.

The implication in these opportunistic claims by Rolley and Pugh is that violent crime is not determined by several complicated factors, and further that the mayor is endowed with the godlike power to end violence in the city. It’s as simple as implementing some particular policy.

I’m willing to believe that the mayor and city council may have the ability to make Baltimore a safer place, through programs and legislation, but the argument for any given course of action needs to be supported by coherent and logical reasoning, not emotional sloganeering.

Execs to Hop in the Harbor!

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We double-dog dare you to dive off the pier at Fells Point, and not in a drunken stupor either, in the name of clean water and good faith. But, wait, don’t do it yet. Wait till 2020, when it’s safe.

Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore aims to make the Inner Harbor swimmable and fishable by ’20, if not sooner. Mike Hankin, president/CEO of Brown Advisory, has even promised to take a swim himself, as part of the first harbor-held triathlon.

“Some people think I’ve gone out on a limb here, but this is very doable,” Hankin says. “This harbor deserves to be cleaned up! Come now, this is our city–let’s act like it!”

Hankin serves as chairman of the organization’s board–exec director Laurie Schwartz, also an avid swimmer, provides key leadership.

She, too, looks forward to a clean, competitive swim by nontoxic deadline.

“I’m in! I’m a regular swimmer–at Meadowbrook and Harbor East MAC–and would much prefer to swim in the open waters of the Harbor. I dream about swimming from the foot of Broadway to Tidepoint!” Schwartz says.

Participating harbor-area businesses include H&S Bakeries, Cordish Company, General Growth, Merritt Properties, and Brown Advisory, plus nonprofits the Maryland Science Center and the Aquarium.

Since raising two million dollars to gather momentum, industrious WPB collective has organized to pick up trash on the south side of the harbor, maintained over twenty green urban spaces, and much more. City council fully backs their optimistic efforts.

Are there doubters among you, readers? We’ve all seen tons of nasty trash floating in the harbor, every time we visit the place. The trouble feels chronic, okay. So, how will the organization actually achieve their dreamy fish-and-human-friendly goals?

Well, practical plans (not the least bit watery) underway to ensure clean, swimmable water include a regular “State of the Harbor” report card, a detailed action plan produced by the Center for Watershed Protection and Biohabitats, addressing each major source of harbor pollution, and active neighborhood participation, with grants provided to neighborhood leaders who can spearhead health plan creation, cleanup and awareness efforts. (Problems like litter, sediment run-off and clogged streams will be addressed.)

Sponsors include: Constellation Energy, Legg Mason, Rauch Foundation, Abell Foundation, Cleaner Greener Baltimore and Duane Morris.

Will you support efforts to clean up our harbor? Whether or not you pitch in, will you ultimately take a dip? Go on, we dare you, and we’ll see you in there!

Water, Water Everywhere

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HOT HOUSE: 622 Ponte Villas N. Baltimore, 21230

Luxury double townhouse, newly built, in brick and  pre-cast concrete, situated at the end of a pier in the Inner Harbor: $8,500,000

What:  Billed as “Baltimore’s most extraordinary property,” it must be said that this is  also Baltimore’s most expensive property. Whatever. This is truly an amazing home. Jutting out from a pier of high-end townhouses in the Inner Harbor, this double-sized home sits like an ocean liner at rest, surrounded on three sides by water. Light pours in from giant windows, boats sail by, and at night skyline and water reflections are jaw-droppingly beautiful. Built in 2007,  622 Ponte Villas really feels more like a large yacht than a house. 9.060 square feet, state of the art systems, smart house technology, home theater, sauna, five-stop elevator, deck upon deck, gorgeous view upon gorgeous view — all culminating in a 75 foot roof deck and spa with hot tub.  Six bedrooms, including a master suite like a Hollywood set.  Seven full baths, three half-baths, gourmet kitchen, the list goes on. The complex has a private marina, indoor and outdoor pools and countless other amenities. 

Where: Ponte Villas is part of a luxury development called Pier Homes at Harbor View. From the Key Highway, it is just past the Visionary Arts Museum, a stone’s throw from Federal Hill and the Inner Harbor.  

Why: Because you’re ready to change your life — and not in a shy way.

Why not:  No helipad.  Seriously, this development was conceived during the go go years of Baltimore real estate, but came to market just as the market started to sour. Take a close look at the asking price, and wonder. 

Would  Suit: Saudi sheik, recovering at Hopkins, sick of the desert. Retirees who haven’t lost their sense of adventure/their fortune…


PA Eighth Graders Take Baltimore Field Trip to Hooters?

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Eighth graders and chaperones from Berwick Middle School in Pennsylvania couldn’t find a single restaurant to accommodate the group of about 100 during a field trip to the National Aquarium last week.  About 20 eighth graders and chaperones splintered off and had lunch at Hooters.

School Superintendent Wayne Brookhart said he has received no complaints about the restaurant choice from parents.

Not where we’d want our kids to go on a school field trip. Just sayin’…

Is This the Future of the Inner Harbor?

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Looks a little space age-y doesn’t it?

Architecture firm Ayers Saint Gross released renderings of an Inner Harbor revitalization project that will include convention center expansion and a waterfront park.  The project is expected to cost around $900 million and take four to six years to complete.  The drawings depict the revised convention center, both front and ariel views, and the waterfront park.

As our friends at Curbed put it in their story The Entertaining Expansion of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, “Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a frequent destination for big name musical acts or Orioles fans looking for a place to drown their sorrows, but for the next few years it is going to be one big construction zone.”  True that.

It’s a lot of money and a huge inconvenience but Baltimore’s Inner Harbor needs a facelift.  It’s time.

 

 

 

Aerophare No Match for Reality of the Inner Harbor…

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Two Sundays ago, we met some friends from Charlottesville at the Inner Harbor. They were in Baltimore to help their son, a college junior, find housing for an internship with the Orioles this summer.
They arrived on Saturday with only five hours to follow up on all leads gathered before coming to Baltimore. They weren’t about to miss a minute of an O’s game. They went to several places in Federal Hill. They went to Fells’ Point. They were headed to Bolton Hill, when they sent a message to the woman whom they planned to meet on Eutaw Place. She sent a message back asking them to come a half an hour later than planned. She said she needed to go add minutes to her phone card.
The father of the college student is a psychiatrist. His business is understanding people. The message about the phone card sent up a flag in his mind. He tried to withhold judgment. Fifteen minutes later she sent him a second message, but this message was intended for someone else. In it she said she’d gotten more credit and asked where she should hide “the stuff.”
At that point the father sent a message cancelling the appointment. He also sent another message to his older son, a fanatic of “The Wire.”. 
We can try to add an “aerophare” and other attractions to the Inner Harbor, but it’s hard to erase the reality of surrounding Baltimore. 

Rating the Inner Harbor Attractions

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No one asked us our opinion, but we thought we’d weigh in anyway on the nine proposals before the Baltimore Development Corporation for attractions to increase interest in the Inner Harbor, that tarnished old Baltimore jewel.  Descriptions below compiled from The Baltimore Sun

Beach volleyball courts on Rash Field.

* * * * * Love the simplicity. Inexpensive and green too!  Volleyball tourneys are sure to attract a crowd.

Eighteen-hole miniature golf course on Rash Field.

* * Miniature golf is good clean fun for the family, but it can be riff-raff-y for teenagers and young adults. And is miniature golf something that will really motivate adults on date night to head to the Inner Harbor?

A 200-foot “observation wheel” at the end of Pier 5. 

* * * * This is a Ferris wheel, plain and simple. Although we love the classic silhouette of a Ferris wheel along the sky, we’ve all been on Ferris wheels and a bigger one won’t get the crowds to the Inner Harbor. Isn’t the pro trapeze school nearby enough carnival juice for one tourist-y urban setting? We’d favor this more if there weren’t better proposals to consider.

A 27-seat “trackless” train from the Inner Harbor’s north shore to the carousel near the Maryland Science Center and Rash Field.

* * * A nice alternative, especially on a hot, humid Baltimore summer day, but ultimately not enough pizzazz.

A trampoline, a 200-foot “observation wheel,” a carousel and miniature golf course, as well as facilities for wall climbing, rappelling and slides, among other things, for Rash Field, West Shore Park and other areas. 

* * Sounds like PlayLand. 

Sky trail rope course, location unspecified.

* * * A little dull. Lukewarm.

The aerophare between Harborplace’s Light Street Pavilion and the Baltimore Visitor Center. 

* * * * * This unusual “flying lighthouse” offering panoramic views of the city is getting the most buzz and for good reason.  We have no idea what it is!  We’re already curious! Deemed Baltimore’s smaller version of the Eiffel Tower by the project’s developer. 

An aerial tram ride and zip line from Federal Hill to the Baltimore Visitor Center.  

* * * * This gondola lift-like air tram poses the biggest threat to the aerophare. Sounds like fun and unusual enough for visitors and to try on your own.

A variety of activities, including a 60-foot tower for rock climbing, zip lines, a three-person giant swing, kayak tours or land-based scavenger tours and a “team building” center. Terrapin proposes to use Rash Field, West Shore Park and the waterside plaza in front of the Maryland Science Center

* * Okay, you lost us at “team building center.”  Sounds like a work seminar. 

Which is your favorite?

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