May 23, 2024

The Future of the CBD

May 12, 2022
The Future of the CBD News Heading featuring Skyscraper

Downtown Baltimore remains the economic engine for the region.


The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated challenges facing Baltimore’s downtown core. Commercial vacancy rates have grown into solid double digits as major tenants and jobs move to newer properties outside of the city center. But at the same time, the conversion of commercial buildings to residential properties has made Downtown Baltimore one of the fastest growing and most diverse neighborhoods in the city. Still, these residents lack the stores, green space, restaurants, public safety and entertainment venues they need and deserve.


  • Higher wage jobs in finance, insurance, management, and scientific and other services continue to be concentrated in the Central Business District, but those jobs have not grown. Critical jobs losses and private sector relocations out of the CBD threatens its viability and existing infrastructure. This trend highlights the importance of efforts to stabilize real estate and economic conditions.
  • Downtown Baltimore is amid a transition to one of the most populated and vibrant residential neighborhoods in the city, but still requires public investments to serve those residents. There are more than 40,000 full-time residents in the two Zip codes that make up the city center, who pay approximately $136M in income taxes to the city.
  • The relocation of state worker jobs from State Center provides creates a significant demand for retail businesses in the downtown core, and could help minority-owned businesses.
  • We need to know what our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities are. Check out the 2021 State of Downtown Report for a quick economic snapshot of last year.

WE NEED YOU: As we build a blueprint for the future of the Central Business District, the core of Downtown Baltimore, we need your voice, your ideas, and your support. Please take a few minutes to complete our short community feedback survey: TAKE SURVEY


Downtown Partnership is charting a path forward. With support and coordination from our City Partners, the business community, residents, and philanthropic community, we are working to create strategies and initiatives to propel Downtown to the next level. The blueprint will focus heavily on the core of Downtown as the heart and connector of the larger Downtown area, specifically addressing Charles Center, Inner Harbor, and Bromo District.

The Process:

  • DPOB engaged a consultant to help us build out and manage the Blueprint Process.
  • We are working on a block-by-block analysis of the 106 blocks of the Downtown Management Authority Area to get a better idea of the real state of retail, land use, vacancy, and quality of streetscaping. As of May 2022, we are 50% of the way through.
  • We engaged Urban Land Institute experts to perform a SWOT analysis of the core Downtown neighborhoods and provide recommendations for future land use, financing suggestions, and placemaking best practices.
  • Nearly 40 stakeholders were interviewed by ULI and by the planning team to inform the the SWOT analysis, but also to help formulate the question set for community outreach.
  • DPOB was awarded $10m in FY23 Capital Funds to support the Blueprint process and initiatives, with a promise for $20m more in the next two fiscal years. The Downtown as a whole will see historic support from the State of MD in the coming years coming out of an incredible 2022 session, with support from the 46th Delegation.
  • A draft plan will be socialized through extensive community outreach, stakeholder meetings, and online feedback.
  • As this process has evolved, we are galvanizing the work, plans, and visions of several community stakeholders, including City and State Agencies, economic development agencies, resident groups, developers, transportation investments and more.
  • Updates will soon be tracked on our website,


We need your ideas and feedback. Downtown Baltimore is the heart of the City and the region, and needs to be a gathering place and connector space for all of our residents, employees, and visitors. Share your voice through our community survey and through upcoming outreach sessions.

Check back for a schedule soon. We will be hosting in person and virtual sessions, with closed captioning and both daytime and evening sessions for accessibility.