Archive of ‘Events Recap’ category

CREWBaltimore State of Retail Luncheon

CREWBaltimore hosted another successful luncheon on the State of Retail at McCormick & Schmick’s on July 16, 2019. CREWBaltimore member Dawn Sangley of Spry Design moderated the panel, whose members consisted of Arsh Mirmiran of Caves Valley Partners, Judy Neff of Checkerspot Brewing Company, Alex Smith of Atlas Restaurant Group, and Claudia Towles of aMuse Toys, all companies local to the Baltimore area.

Sangley started off the conversation by talking about how urban design and commercial real estate need retail. While offices energize the city during the day and housing strengthens the city at night, retail helps sustain both and activates the streetscape. While some retail is struggling, there are brick and mortar retail locations that are thriving. These businesses are keystones in our communities, creating a sense of place and generating interest. So how are our panelist’s companies attracting consumers given the competition from e-commerce? For all these companies, it’s about providing something that customers can’t get online. For Neff, they must have events, like live music, that draw people in. Being dog-friendly also helps draw a crowd. Smith concurred, saying that “people are going out for more than just food, they are going for an experience.” For Towles, the challenge came with how her retail toy store could compete against the convenience of online retailers for busy parents, as 39% of online shoppers say speed is the largest factor for choosing to purchase online over at a brick and mortar location. She said that since they have a lot of STEM toys, they have learning workshops for either just the child or the parent and the child to learn together, something not available online.

As far as development, Mirmiran has had success with “taking stable areas and pushing their edges.” This helps stabilize the city and promote future growth. There is a movement toward more urban development with “many people [who] still prefer living in the urban environment,” he said. In fact, Sangley mentioned that 56% of online shoppers still appreciate the in-person experience over digital retailers. Which might be why e-commerce, like Bonobos, Warby Parker, and Amazon have all opened brick and mortar locations. To address security concerns with some of those “urban edge” locations, Smith recommends hiring a private security company and having a presence on the ground. Valet service is usually a good way to ensure your customers feel safe and provides for a more leisurely experience.

How do each of these companies reduce their impact on the environment and give back to the community? For the local brewery, Checkerspot Brewing Company recycles containers and their spent grain goes to local cattle farmers. Additionally, they also use local fruit in some of their beer and host dog-focused events for BARCS. Smith said Atlas Restaurant Group also works with local farmers, donates to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and takes employees to do a yearly cleanup event.

Each of these companies also utilizes technology to enhance the shopping experience. For aMuse Toys, they have a rewards program that tracks purchases and gives recommendations to the consumer based on those purchases. Similarly, Atlas Restaurant Group uses analytics that tracks guest visits and orders. These analytics help the wait staff to give better recommendations and adds a special experience for the guest that they might not have with a food delivery service. Smith said they have also found that the personal outreach, like a card or a call back, ensures that the guest has a positive interaction with the restaurant. Neff agreed, saying that the staff at Checkerspot make concerted efforts to interact with guests. And some of that interaction is online, as they are very active on social media and use that as their promotional platform. Studies show that 40% of business owners are using social media to generate sales, and that 23% of consumers say that recommendations on social media influence their buying decisions.

The brick and mortar retail experience is not disappearing. As long as companies are adaptable and willing to put in the extra effort and innovation to draw in customers, they will likely see a return on their investment.

To see more event photos, click here.

Chapter Challenge Vs. Annual Golf Tournament….and why the Outreach Committee needs YOUR help

First and foremost, our Chapter is strategically made up of the cream of the crop women (and the men that support them) in the Baltimore commercial real estate industry. We have proven over the years to have some extremely generous donors within our network; not only financially but with time, knowledge, intellectual capital and other resources. This is such a vital aspect for the success of our organization.

The mission of the CREWBaltimore Outreach Committee is to make a lasting positive impact on the local community with an emphasis on the commercial real estate industry AND professional women –we do this through scholarship, mentoring workshops, career fairs, endowments and tangible donations. Throughout the year, the Outreach committee engages the membership for participation in a few initiatives. You may wonder, “What is the difference between the donations being asked for?”.

Network Foundation & the Chapter Challenge:

The CREW Network Foundation raises funds to support programs that attract women and girls to the CRE industry, building a talent pipeline. It is also the only Foundation solely dedicated towards advancing women in CRE globally. Thousands of dollars are used each year towards scholarships, industry research and career outreach efforts as outlined here.

This fund is held at the national level but each individual Chapter within CREW Network is challenged annually with three goals to help support the overall fund.

  1. Get 100% of your chapter’s board to give an individual donation
  2. Get 50% of your chapter’s membership to give an individual donation
  3. Chapter gives an organizational donation of $1,000 or more

Our Chapter has achieved this Trifecta for the past four consecutive years and been nationally recognized at the CREW Network Annual Convention. In 2019, we have donated $5,281 towards making a difference for generations to come of women in CRE!!

Annual Golf Tournament (10/3/19 at Diamond Ridge Golf Course):

The Outreach committee works diligently each year to identify 1) philanthropy efforts that support our mission and 2) partnerships with local schools and organizations which allow us the opportunity to help students become future leaders & raise awareness about careers in CRE.

The golf tournament is a fun filled day with raffles, Chinese auction, contests and of course a round of golf followed by a catered lunch. You do NOT need to be a CREW member to participate, so sign up your whole office, your best friends, your vendors and guys in CRE who are shy about attending other CREW events for a golf foursome (or multiple) at our October tournament!

The funds generated by this tournament are the sole funding for our upcoming year Outreach budget and determines how much we will be able to give back in 2020. So please, sign up today, sponsor, donate quality items for the auction and help promote the event to make it our most successful yet!! (René Carter is currently collecting Chinese auction items and she will pick-up items you wish to donate. You may reach her at rcarter@urinow.com; 443-610-2200.)

How your donations were deployed in 2019….

  • UCREW event w JHU Carey Business School-live panel discussion for graduate level students—most pursuing MBAs or Master’s degrees in real estate, finance, risk management, or marketing. The panel discussion gave the students a glimpse into four major sectors of the commercial real estate industry: finance, consulting, development, and property & asset management. Panelists (made up of CREW members) discussed their career paths and respective sectors, provided insight about their experiences as women in CRE, and discussed major trends and challenges in real estate today.
  • Sponsorship and Participation in Junior Achievement of Central MD: 1) Leading Ladies event connects businesswomen and outstanding female high school students in the Baltimore area to celebrate successes, develop talents, capture new opportunities and inspire the next generation of women leaders. The event celebrates the power of women at various ages and stages of life, and inspires participants with increased knowledge and confidence to further their career goals and network building. Through presentations, table discussions and interactive student/mentor activities, the event stays true to the hands-on JA philosophy of providing real-world experiences that help youth create an aspiration and plan for their futures.,  2) Her Path to Promise event– summer program at Towson University that creates pathways for young women by providing exposure to female mentors, college campuses, career opportunities, hands-on activities, and other experiences to begin the process of preparing for a successful life after graduation from high school. Through networking, one-on-one mentoring, mock interviews, resume building, and personal branding guidance from female professionals, the young women apply these skills to secure a job or internship on the final day during the career fair expo, which features local employers from a variety of industries., and 3) BizTown- is a very unique experience that offers 4th – 6th grade students the experience of running BizTown, a simulated city of businesses. Volunteers assist in a coaching capacity to encourage students to collaborate and use critical thinking skills to run a business.
  • Sponsorship of University of Baltimore Real Estate & Economic Development “Lessons from Legends” event –Students of the UB Merrick School of Business, alumni and friends had an opportunity to learn from Baltimore’s most influential and successful business leaders about their experiences, career paths, successes and challenges.
  • My Sisters Place: a center that provides three meals a day and access to services such as case management, education and job training for women in Baltimore City. 1) Provided purses stuffed w/necessities to graduates of the “Learn to Earn” internship program, 2)Delivered 100+ bags filled w/toiletries and supplies for the women of the center 3) will participate in a “Day of Service” in October- a group will serve lunch at the facility
  • Student Membership Scholarship to Cheryl Williams, a grad student at JHU
  • Sponsored Camp NAWIC– a week long construction camp for girls grades 7-12 introducing to a variety of areas within the construction field
  • Endowment provided to JHU towards a student scholarship

Your participation is greatly appreciated to allow our Chapter to continue to make an impact in the areas we have deemed in line with our strategic mission. If you would like to learn more, suggest a cause,  or are interested in joining the Outreach committee, please contact Co-Chairs Tammy Baczynskyj  at TBaczynskyj@vscfire.com or Amanda Hill at ahill@clny.com . There are many opportunities throughout the year for members to participate in single day events as well. Keep an eye out in the newsletters and the Outreach page of the blog.  Thanks again for your continued support!

Learn to Earn at My Sisters’ Place

On April 30th, CREWBaltimore Outreach Committee members Polly Houck, Absolute Service Industries & Tammy Baczynskj, VSC Fire & Security Inc. coordinated and delivered purses filled with necessities to the seven women graduating from the 2018/2019 session of Learn to Earn at My Sisters’ Place.

Learn to Earn is a six-month internship program that prepares women for careers in various fields through direct training. Following completion of the curriculum, job placement assistance is provided for graduates.

“It was very inspiring to see these wonderful ladies graduate and go on with their new adventures in life,” said Tammy. “Family members being there to support the ladies in addition to the support that My Sisters’ Place has given them to achieve this, is extremely instrumental to them.”

My Sisters’ Place has been a philanthropic partner of CREWBaltimore since 2017. The Center, sponsored by Catholic Charities of Baltimore, provides three meals a day and access to services such as case management, education and job training for women in Baltimore City.

CREWBaltimore continues to support My Sisters’ Place through ongoing donations of travel-sized toiletries and personal care items. The Outreach committee plans to provide a “Christmas in July” next month for the organization, so please considering making a donation today. Donations are being collected at the registration table at all CREWBaltimore events throughout the year. Members can also participate in the drive by making a direct contribution of items through the Amazon Wishlist HERE.

CREWBaltimore State of Our State Luncheon

Following a warm welcome by CREWBaltimore President Nikkia Fitch, our annual sponsors were thanked, including the event sponsor Miles & Stockbridge.  Michele Cohen, Principal at Miles & Stockbridge spoke on behalf of her firm.

To kick off the discussion Adrienne Jones, Speaker Pro Tem/Delegate of the Maryland House of Delegates – 10th District, provided highlights of the 2019 session.  She noted that the House and Senate have 61 new members this year and several standing committees.  The 2019 focus has been on education through the Kirwan Commission, and on balancing the budget.  Speaker Pro Tem Jones encouraged CREWBaltimore members to visit the House Floor and participate in dialog with the policy committees.  She stated that “women play a critical role in this assembly this year” and noted that several current committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs are women.

Spencer Levy, Chairman of Americas Research and Senior Economic Advisor at CBRE then led a lively discussion about the economic state of Maryland, and specifically the Baltimore region.  After stating that he believes the three pillars of a region’s success are money, talent, and infrastructure, the discussion focused on these areas.

Economically, Speaker Pro Tem Jones noted a vast divergence in the Baltimore region with drastic highs and lows.  The region boasts strengths in urbanization, revitalization based on historical manufacturing origins, and added suburban revitalization in areas such as Columbia, Annapolis and Towson.  A discussion that began with the struggles surrounding employment and hiring quickly turned the topic from economics to education.

Mary Ann Scully, CEO of Howard Bank, Speaker Pro Tem Jones, and Levy all leaned toward support and services for families as having the greatest impact on education reform.  While college is not for everyone, the Kirwan Commission aims for every student to be college or career ready by 10th grade, and not lacking in fundamental skills such as literacy and math.  Scully noted that Howard Bank is currently putting funds into work-force development, and skills that are not on a resume, such as curiosity, are also important.  Levy suggested that economic integration within our public-school systems is the answer, stating that “we should do everything possible to give every kid a shot”.  This sentiment was backed by both the panelists and the audience.

While infrastructure was a lesser discussed topic, transportation seemed to be the key.  Neither Scully or Speaker Pro Tem Jones backed the idea of a hyperloop between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.  Scully stated that there are too many other mass transit issues that need to be addressed first.  Ultimately, the region needs to prepare for behavioral changes in how and where people want to live and work.

Levy, a consummate moderator, added light-hearted banter to the discussion by encouraging Speaker Pro Tem Jones and Scully to share their music and television preferences (Speaker Pro Tem Jones prefers R&B music and T.V. mysteries, while Scully likes Aretha Franklin and the band Chicago and watches Game of Thrones and Midsomer Murders with her family).  With predictions from both panelists for a recession and a woman in Presidential power in the near future, the discussion came to a close and was opened for a series of questions and answers.

2019 Women of Influence Luncheon Recap

Over 85 CREW members and guests attended the 2019 Women of Influence Luncheon at the renovated Center Club on January 8th. Following a warm welcome and 2019 preview by CREWBaltimore President Nikkia Fitch of RS&F, moderator Karen Pecoraro (ATC Group Services) facilitated a panel-format discussion around pay inequality and other barriers to female advancement in the CRE industry. This central theme was inspired by the 2018 CREW Network White Paper titled Achieving Pay Parity in Commercial Real Estate (read here).

Panelists Christine Espenshade (JLL), Michele Cohen (Miles & Stockbridge), Laura Penza (Penza Bailey Architects) and Ruth Hoang (Howard Hughes Development) shared tips, challenges and anecdotes about their careers and successes in commercial real estate. Two points of advice repeatedly emerged throughout the discussion.

First, speak up for yourself. “No one will be a better advocate for you than you” said Ruth Hoang. Michele Cohen added that coworkers and supervisors are not “mind readers” and should not be expected to just make things happen on your behalf. Instead, women need to make their case when asking for a raise or promotion. “Track, catalogue, capture your accomplishments” Karen Pecoraro advised. That makes it much easier to recount your contributions when annual review time rolls around, since trying to recall a year’s worth of deals or sales can be difficult. The panel also recommended staying current on reports and publications that provide compensation data for your profession, noting that location can play a big role.

When asked how to avoid the pay gap over the course of a career, advice from the panel varied. “Stay flexible and leave yourself some latitude to do new things” offered Ruth Hoang, referring to the ways in which her willingness to work in new markets and with new clients spurred her progress at Howard Hughes. “Be willing to reinvent yourself” said Christine Espenshade, “especially if you’ve left the workforce for a period of time.” The panel agreed on the importance of staying relevant and connected through networking events and organizations such as CREW.

As a regular participant in annual compensation reviews at Miles and Stockbridge, Michele Cohen noted “our male counterparts self-advocate better more often.” Hoang then stressed the importance of asking for a raise each year and to not settle for a 2-3% cost of living increase, which accentuates the gap. “Be mindful of the math” she added.

The second word of advice from the panel: create your own work/life “harmony”. From choosing your life partner to third-party help, the group emphasized the importance of a support network and agreed that the term “work/life balance” can be misleading. “As women, we think we are the only ones who can handle the pediatrician appointment or stay home with a sick child” Christine Espenshade joked, then added “we are inclined to take on the lion’s share of the duties at home.” In reality, we can all use a little help from the outside to make our home life and career as fulfilling as possible. “Find your thing, find your power, and make it work,” said Laura Penza.

Junior Achievement: Her Path to Promise Event

There is no doubt that Junior Achievement of Central Maryland is making an impact on the youth of Maryland, and the “JA Her Path to Promise” program was no exception. The three-day program was held at Towson University this past July, where young women ranging from Sophomores to Seniors in High School could learn and apply skills designed to help their futures in education and the working world. The program conducted mock interviews, touched on resume building, discussed the college admissions process and other relevant professional skills. The young women all participated in a mock interview where they met with successful women from local top companies, allowing the experience of what a job interview would be like. Informal one-on-one sessions with female mentors was also offered. The participants took what they had learned in those interviews and applied them on the final day of the program, the career fair.

CREW Baltimore was a proud participant at the career fair alongside employers from a variety of industries. Volunteers from CREW demonstrated how the professional organization was designed to support women in commercial real estate field and the importance of having a business network. The career fair was one that had a positive impact on both the volunteers and the young women that were in attendance. It was evident that each of them took away so many lessons learned in a short period of time. Each high schooler, in her own way, broke out of her comfort zone and showed an impressive amount of confidence and maturity. Many of them had big goals for their future and it was clear they were determined to reach them. After participating in this program, each is now better positioned to achieve those goals.

The “JA Her Path to Promise” event was an inspiring one for the volunteers as well. As members of CREW, we were there with the hopes of having a positive impact on the attendees, but in the end, they had just as much of a positive impact on the volunteers. The young women took steps that not many their age take and they each have bright futures ahead of them.

Junior Achievement of Central Maryland is doing a remarkable job with providing programs that help motivate and prepare young adults for the future and CREW Baltimore looks forward to continuing participation with the organization.

For more information on the organization, visit the Junior Achievement of Central Maryland site here.

Merriweather Post Pavilion Renovations

Merriweather Post Pavilion recently hosted CREWBaltimore members and guests for a construction tour of the newly renovated historic concert venue. Initially built in 1967 to be home to the National Symphony, Merriweather is celebrating over 50 years as a historic location for some of music’s biggest artists. 

With its rich history, there was a lot at stake with the new renovations, including risk to losing Merriweather’s original character. Designers at JP2 Architects were innovative with the renovation while keeping the same character Merriweather has created for itself.

Many factors were taken into consideration when redesigning the space. Being located in the heart of Symphony Woods Park, the venue was already one unlike any other. However, that wasn’t enough.

Merriweather’s biggest goal is creating accessibility for all concert goers. With that, they are going to great lengths to create a venue that is completely ADA accessible. A new crosswalk will be installed that will connect all parts of the venue for the handicapped and disabled. They are also creating an elevator that will allow people to be dropped off at the midway point of the site, something that is extremely unique for an outdoor concert space.

Another goal relates to the performance space and backstage space for artists and their entourages.  Designers hoped to keep the performance space similar to the original design, being that it was so unique. After several refurbishments, they were unable to salvage the original wood floors on the notoriously low performing stage; however, they were able to give it a bit of a facelift. The stage is set lower than most stages and is constructed of wood, with a turntable in the middle. This allows stage crews to set up two artists at once for events such as festivals.

Backstage, renovations to the dressing rooms and VIP space are finished. There were numerous things that needed to be changed specifically for artists and their entourages. For example, countless artists have been required to rely on tents to act as different amenities, such as the kitchen. The overall new feel of the backstage is pretty modern – everything from the floors, the light fixtures and furniture bring a modern vibe to the venue. Merriweather is also the only concert venue that has a pool for its artists. The backstage also boasts extremely large dressing rooms and VIP spaces fit to cater to the largest of entourages, whether they chose to be indoors or outdoors.

The office space is the most recent project for the renovation team. Doubling as an office space and an adult playground, you’ll find everything from desks and computers, to ski ball, basketball, and Pac-Man. A modern feel is brought to the offices as well, with each office door decorated with the historic artists and bands that have performed there.

Merriweather Post Pavilion is becoming an entertainment mecca in every sense of the word and the 2018 outdoor concert season is expected to be one of the most exciting yet! This was an amazing renovation project executed by JP2 Architects, Howard Hughes Corporation, I.M.P., and the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission, which will ensure the venue will be relevant for decades to come.

Influential Women in CRE

CREWBaltimore hosted the “Women of Influence” Luncheon at the Center Club on January 9, 2018. We welcomed back moderator Christine Espenshade, a CREWBaltimore member for six years, and a Managing Director at Jones Lang Lasalle. The panel included Lisa Goodwin, Sr. Vice President of MRP Industrial, Amy Bonitz, President & CEO of Baltimore Arts Realty Corporation, and Caroline Paff, Vice President of Sagamore Development. The women covered topics that are beneficial to all women in the industry and also discussed the results found in CREW Network’s White Paper on gender bias and other barriers for women in the CRE industry.

All three panelists noted that they did not originally plan on getting into the commercial real estate field, but that they were successful at the start of their careers due to the mentors they sought out.  Mentors are important at all stages of your career, and can help determine your career plan.  Knowing where you want to end up will help you seek out the opportunities and challenges that will positively impact your career and set you up for advancement. Goodwin revealed that taking advantage of “sink or swim” opportunities propelled her forward in her career path. Mentors would provide guidance, but she found that she learned more when she was in the depths of these challenges. Paff mentioned that while opportunities are important in gaining traction to move forward, so is the support system around you. Your mentor will give you the balance of both support and opportunity. Bonitz confirmed that you must set up your parameters and guard them, and she also noted that sometimes you must “hit the shark in the nose and take charge of an intimidating situation.  If you take responsibility for your own progress, stand up for your ideas or projects and exude confidence in your ability to get the job done, you will be more likely to earn the respect of your peers.

Growing your career over time does not come without diligence. Goodwin discussed how personal accountability and being responsible for your own growth will help you move up the ladder in your career. She also noted that when you love what you do, love who you are doing it with, and you feel that you are a valued team member, you are more likely to choose to continue in that particular career. Putting in the extra hours is sometimes inevitable in the commercial real estate field; however, “you have to challenge yourself to be resilient,” added Espenshade. “If you are feeling alone in your [work life balance] situation, then find women in similar life situations to [talk to]”, and get input about your own situation, shared Paff.

Do not let your failures isolate you; talking about them with others will allow you to grow from these experiences. “All business women have experienced failures of some sort in their career” said Paff. Bonitz added that a deal sometimes dies fifteen times before it lives, and the team she has put together at her firm always remains positive and looks at how they can learn from each situation. In order to have the team remain positive and motivated to move forward it is important to have a vision that everyone wants to see brought to fruition. Goodwin followed up with noting that most of the time mistakes are made when you are involved in the unknown, and you can learn and grow from them. The ability to get back on the field and resume play is how you will determine your success moving forward.

The panel also had a chance to discuss workplace diversity. Paff suggested providing a written pathway as a way to hold everyone accountable to deliver on the promises made when you are first hired. Goodwin shared that over the years she has never seen it as men vs. women, but one team working towards an end goal. She also added that women bring an emotional balance to their team and their successes. Women play an integral role in commercial real estate, and the panelists provided insightful commentary and real-life experiences when asked questions by the audience members at the end of the event. We appreciate their willingness to share their experiences with us at this event.

Please join us on April 11 for our next Center Club luncheon about the State of the State!

Goucher College Construction Tour

Goucher College hosted a construction tour for CREWBaltimore members and guests on November 9, 2017. Founded over 125 years ago, the college was an all women’s college prior to becoming co-educational in 1986. While also striving for academic excellence, Goucher is focused on fostering a close-knit community with the new construction on campus. All of the projects discussed focus on bringing students together.

For example, extensive studies were done to find the perfect location for the Mary Fisher Dining Hall. In its new location, the dining hall is centrally located between all of the dorms – all students walk past it during the day. The hope is for the dining hall to become a hub of activity and interaction on campus.

Studies were also done prior to designing the new First Year Village. Using the results of behavioral science, architects Ayers Saint Gross designed the rooms to be smaller, and the lounges to have faster Wi-Fi, to encourage students to leave their rooms and mingle in the centrally located lounges on each floor. The laundry facilities are located on the first floor, with all glass walls, to encourage student interaction there as well.

Goucher College is also dedicated to sustainability. That’s why instead of building three new dormitories (Froelicher Hall) on a new quad across campus, they decided to move the 1,200-ton buildings over 500 feet to their new location. This was one of the largest and fastest building relocations to ever take place on a college campus. Goucher’s approach to preserve and re-use the existing student housing was recognized by Maryland’s The Daily Record and was again named “Innovator of the Year.”

In addition to these larger construction projects on campus, the equestrian facilities and field will be upgraded (new tennis center, turf field, and fitness/pilates center), the existing interfaith center will be relocated next to the existing chapel on campus to host a multi-faith prayer room, and a 35,000 sf addition will be added to the Hoffberger Science Building to create a lab and learning spaces.

To see more photos from the event, please visit our gallery here. To read more about the ongoing construction, you can follow Goucher’s blog: http://blogs.goucher.edu/communitymatters/

Long Live the Port of Baltimore & Waterfront Neighborhoods!

Peter O’Malley, American Sugar Refining; Abby Glassberg, NAI KLNB; Jill Lemke, Maryland Port Authority; Laurie Schwartz, Baltimore Waterfront Partnership; Amy Lacock, JLL

That’s the message that panelists were trying to convey to an audience of 60+ CREWBaltimore members and guests at the September 14th luncheon event held at the Center Club.

The moderator for the event, Abby Glassberg, a broker for NAI KLNB and 27 year Maryland commercial real estate veteran, surveyed the room with the following questions:

Has anyone been to the Seagirt Marine terminal?

Does anyone remember when McCormick Spice was downtown?

Has anyone taken a cruise out of Baltimore?

The theme of the day was the current issues and future trends relating to Baltimore’s waterfront; those who answered “yes” to any of the above questions immediately realized the personal impact.

The Port

Jill Lemke

A heartfelt plea was made by Jill Lemke, Maryland Port Authority (MPA), reminding us that the Port of Baltimore is the “heart of the region’s economy” and must remain protected from surrounding development and supported in future endeavors to grow and maximize potential. The Port is a valuable asset which keeps Baltimore vibrant by bringing waterborne commerce for the benefit of the citizens of the State. Without the port everything we buy would be more expensive, we would have less access to the global economy and the region would lose about 13,000 jobs with over 126,000 related jobs being impacted drastically.

A Shiny New Waterfront

Laurie Schwartz

Laurie Schwartz, Baltimore Waterfront Partnership (BWP), discussed how many areas in downtown Baltimore have outlived their useful life and need updates. She described the efforts and initiatives of the BWP to rehab and revitalize the Inner Harbor and surrounding waterfront neighborhoods by investing in supplemental cleaning, landscaping, events, construction of parks and additional amenities. There is a “Healthy Harbor” initiative working towards restoring clean water by 2020 to protect our City’s most valuable asset.

Relating back to the Port, another area in desperate need of an update are the aging tunnels. In 1895, when the Howard Street tunnel was built, no one realized that an extra two feet of clearance height may one day become a huge impediment. Expansion of the Howard Street tunnel has been deemed imperative to allow double stack containers and taller modern freight cars through that currently don’t meet clearance levels, Lemke explained. This will allow cargo movement to the Midwest market therefore increasing the number of vessel calls and containers unloaded at the Port of Baltimore, many of which we are currently losing to Port of Norfolk. Our deep-water access is huge, which is why the port needs to stay where it is. There are other ports in other cities that are digging deeper to try to compete with us.

Jim Lemke and Peter O’Malley

The Domino Sugar Refinery has been a Baltimore landmark, housed along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for 95 years, though some question if the plant is still in operation. Peter O’Malley, American Sugar Refining, assured the audience that the manufacturer, who employs approximately 485 people (and over 120 other drivers and tug boat captains who are employed because of them), is very much still running full steam. The Refinery is another part of our aging city that could use a facelift, and they actually have been doing some major recent renovations. It is also an operation that needs the deep-water access of our port to get product in and benefits from the railroad and highway access. The operation desires to stay where they are because of the population center workforce and proximity to East coast. Domino Sugar has invested back into the community by sponsoring local events in the neighborhood and sending welcome packages to those who buy homes on the peninsula. Retaining Domino’s is a major win for the city- there is a sense of pride that something is still made in Baltimore.

Planning & Development in Baltimore

In the 1970s when the master plan for the Inner Harbor was designed, the plan called for all of the land on the shoreline to be open and accessible to the public, not closed off or privatized at all. The City only awarded property to developers who agreed to adhere to the master plan. Over time, the City has lost control of much of the land and development planning efforts. Developers have been focused on projects that create a work-live-play future for many of the downtown waterfront areas. Although it is acknowledged that many areas are in need of revitalization, there is also a desire to preserve the historic character. Panelists warned that we need to be careful with zoning uses and infrastructure in terms of what impacts there may be on and from the port and industrial areas. A waterfront condo sounds like a dream until you are awakened by horns going off nearby to signal a shipment coming in. An addition of a median may allow a lighting system or landscaping to be installed, but in turn could impede trucks from using the road if they are too wide.

Members of the CRE industry have many opportunities to connect with the revitalization projects that are forthcoming. We also have a duty to remind our peers, developers, builders, and legislators to look around at the bigger picture before rezoning, starting new projects, or voting on issues.

We are all in this together.

For more photos of the event, visit our event gallery

1 2 3 4