June 23, 2024

23 Wins for Downtown Baltimore in 2023

December 31, 2023

To round out 2023, we’ve compiled a list of successes worth revisiting.

As we step into a new year brimming with possibility, we’re thrilled to highlight Downtown’s triumphs over the last twelve months. These achievements — both at Downtown Partnership and in the community as a whole — are just the beginning. Here’s to more wins in 2024!

1. Downtown Boost Program

From Baltimore with Love Baltimore BOOST Program Awardee

Taking the Downtown BOOST program to new heights, BOOST Round 2 grantees include Bmore Empowered, Decorelle, From Baltimore with Love, Sacred House, and Smith Co. Additionally, in partnership with MCB Real Estate and The Mayor’s Office, we launched the BOOST Harborplace Incubator initiative. This initiative supports 7 grants for Baltimore-based entrepreneurs to set up short-term retail locations at the most iconic location in Downtown Baltimore. 

2. Digital Billboards Arrive

New Downtown Billboards in Baltimore

Digital Billboards arrived, and with them, light, art, and opportunity. These digital billboards will provide much more for the community than meets the eye. They will serve as a free marketing resource for small local businesses, a space to spotlight Charm City artists, and open the door for Baltimore to host future world-class sporting events. Two billboards went live at Lombard & Charles, and permits are underway for 9 more. Learn more about the Large Format Initiative.

3. Expanded Grant Funding for Capital Projects

DPOB secured $10 million in grants in FY23 from Maryland’s Department of General Services (DGS), paving the way for impactful capital projects, including the Liberty Dog Park renovation and expansion, the installation of 300 new trash cans and 200 new flower planters throughout Downtown, and transportation hub enhancements at Lexington Market and Charles Center Metro Stations.

4. Expanded Grant Funding for Security and Infrastructure Enhancements

Additionally, DPOB secured a substantial $12 million in grant funding in FY24 from Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). These funds allow the organization to invest in safety, security and infrastructure enhancements and additional capital projects.

5. CFG Bank Arena Re-Opens

Img via FreedomFilmLLC.com

CFG Bank Arena held its grand re-opening in 2023 after extensive renovations to the Baltimore arena by Oak View Group. The concert schedule kicked off in March with Bruce Springsteen and has since been ranked by Billboard as one of the highest-grossing venues in world!

6. Orioles Stay in Baltimore

The Baltimore Orioles had an epic season — clinching the 2023 AL East Title. The Maryland Stadium Authority also voted unanimously to approve a lease contract that will keep the Orioles in Baltimore for the next three decades. Wins all around!

7. And So Do the Ravens

The Ravens also signed a new lease at M&T Bank Stadium that will keep them at in Baltimore through the end of the 2037 NFL season. They also announced significant plans to enhance gameday and year-round fan experiences at the Stadium, bolstering the sports and entertainment district and better connecting the pedestrian experience.

8. DPOB Operations Team Thrives

Downtown Partnership’s Operation’s fleet experienced another stellar year of creating a safer, cleaner, and greener Baltimore.

  • DPOB’s Safety and Hospitality team conducted over 70,000 business check-ins and made over 7,000 citizen interactions, their proactive engagement contributing to the overall safety and vibrancy of the community.
  • As part of DPOB’s Alley Initiative, the Clean team reached the milestone of 100% clean alleys, marking a substantial 193% improvement from January 2021.
  • DPOB’s Homeless Outreach team received an additional $73,000 in funding from the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services, (MOHS), and assisted over 440 neighbors in need by connecting them to a variety of life-saving services.

9. Lexington Market Celebrates Grand Re-Opening

Img via Visit Baltimore by SHAN Wallace

In January, Lexington Market celebrated its grand opening at 112 N Eutaw St. The new 60,000-square-foot market building and public plaza hosts 26 vendors and seven kiosks that include vendors like Faidley’s Seafood and Connie’s Chicken & Waffles, as well as new Baltimore favorites like Ovenbird Bakery, Taharka Brothers, and Tio G’s Empanadas.

10. State Center Relocation Efforts Continue

The Maryland Department of General Services signed leases for all the State Agencies relocating to the Central Business District. More than 5,300 new employees will be moving to Downtown Baltimore between December 2023 – April 2024. Additionally, Mayor Scott issued a ‘Return to Work’ plan earlier this year, which calls for city employees return to offices three days a week starting January 2.

11. New Businesses Open

Downtown Baltimore welcomed a handful of new businesses in 2023 including The Empanada Lady, Zander’s, Stem & Vine, The Garden Rooftop, The Buttonwood, Vivo Living, Ammoora, MRI Studios, Elite Design House, Crook Horner Lofts, SECU, and more.

12. Project C.O.R.E. Grants Awarded

In 2023, DPOB had three successful Project C.O.R.E applications resulting in awards totaling $1.5 million from DHCD for the following projects: Mayfair Place at 500 N. Howard, The Compass (former Superblock) redevelopment project, and Lexington Lofts at 100 W. Lexington.

13. Harborplace Developments Announced

Rendering via Gensler

The Harborplace redevelopment team, MCB Real Estate, hosted community feedback sessions and released the first look at the future designs for the iconic Baltimore gathering place. The pavilions will be replaced with a $500 million development consisting of two residential towers, offices, shops, restaurants, expanded park space, and maybe even a gondola or two.

14. CIAA Tournament Extension

Following a successful tournament in 2023, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) and Visit Baltimore announced the extension of the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament in Baltimore through 2026.

15. Artscape Returns, Festivals Expand

Img via Visit Baltimore

Artscape, made its rainy return to Baltimore in September for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite Tropical Storm Ophelia delaying and even canceling certain days of the festival, thousands of people still came out to participate in all the festival had to offer. Additionally, Downtown saw growth in its festival lineup with the expansion of Charm City Live, the introduction of the summer Wine Village, and the return of Baltimore x Baltimore and the German Christmas Village.

16. National Tech Hub Designation

The Baltimore region was awarded a federal designation as a national tech hub, projecting $4.2 billion in economic impact and 52,000 jobs by 2030, according to GBC estimates. With this investment and recognition, there is no ceiling to what can be created and accomplished in our city.

17. Major Tenants Re-Up Leases

Four tenants of the iconic One South Street tower re-upped their leases this year. These four returning tenants — Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann; Atapco; Gebhardt & Smith; and the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation — occupy over 90,000 square feet of the building. This is short list of lease renewals, more can be found in the 2022 State of Downtown Baltimore Report.

18. Baltimore Named Top City for Minority Biz

Maryland ranked No. 2 in nation for successful minority entrepreneurs. Our Downtown BOOST Program further supports that Maryland, and Downtown Baltimore specifically, is a viable, healthy location for BIPOC-Owned businesses to put down roots.

19. Squeegee Collaborative Sees Success

Formed after months of dialogues involving squeegee workers, business leaders, social workers, and city officials, the Squeegee Collaborative, as reported by City Administrator Faith Leach, has successfully led to an 83% reduction in calls for service related to squeegee activities.

20. Mayor Scott Unveils Downtown RISE

Mayor Scott announced ‘Downtown RISE‘ — a comprehensive action plan, crafted in partnership with key stakeholders including DPOB, Baltimore Development Corporation, Live Baltimore, Visit Baltimore, and others. Downtown RISE’s four key focus areas include:

  • Public Safety and Cleanliness
  • Community and Economic Development
  • Arts, Culture, Entertainment, and Placemaking
  • Infrastructure Development

21. New Events and Activations

Spring Break Skate in Hopkins PlazaDowntown partnership introduced a selection of new activations to Downtown including the wildly successful Spring Break Skate, the Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar, and Winter in the Garden. These new programs round out an already extension lineup of events and activations hosted annually by DPOB that includes the Charles Street Promenade, Baltimore Restaurant Week, the Pratt Street Market, Downtown Discovery Days, and more.

22. New Public Art

New public art popped up all over the city. Including new murals at Vivo Living, Lexington Market, The Ashley, and The Gallery. Additionally, Baltimore’s hyper-local mural festival Brush Mural Fest celebrated its first year.

23. DPOB Celebrates 40 Years of Service to Baltimore

2023 marked Downtown Partnership’s 40th anniversary as an organization and we celebrated at a sold-out Annual Meeting event alongside esteemed guests like Governor Wes Moore, Senator Ben Cardin, Mayor Brandon Scott, and many more. Our four decades of service to Downtown Baltimore did not go unrecognized, this year the organization and our president won a variety of awards including

  • DPOB named Ambassador for the Baltimore Region during the 49th Annual Mayor’s Business Recognition Awards
  • DPOB honored with Outstanding Safety Award from Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company
  • Shelonda Stokes named 2023 Gamechanger by Baltimore Magazine
  • Shelonda Stokes named Prominent Black Trailblazer at the 10th Annual Black History Month Heroes Award Ceremony

Here’s to more victories, growth, and community impact in 2024!

These 23 wins stand as a testament to a year of resilience, innovation, and collective triumph in Downtown Baltimore. From transformative initiatives like BOOST Harborplace Incubator to the renewal of iconic landmarks, the city has embraced positive change. The dedication to safety, community outreach, and economic development has laid a solid foundation for the future. As we bid farewell to the year, the momentum generated by the Orioles’ AL East Title, the Ravens’ extended lease, and Baltimore’s tech hub designation positions the city for continued success. Downtown Partnership’s 40th-anniversary celebration and the well-deserved accolades reflect a legacy of impactful leadership. With a vibrant community, cultural resurgence, and a commitment to addressing challenges, Downtown Baltimore embarks on 2024 with optimism, ready to build upon these wins for a brighter, more inclusive future.