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?