From its opening in 1980, Harborplace was an international success story. So what went wrong? Harborplace's big strength was also its big weakness. It was built by a suburban developer, James Rouse, as a little piece of suburbia in the center of the city where suburbanites and visitors would feel safe experiencing the city. But since then, neighborhoods in the real city have emerged to fulfill this role in a far more authentic way. Now it's time for Harborplace to emulate the neighborhoods.
|Pratt Street Pavilion of Harborplace - Its pedestrian bridge over Pratt Street should be extended over South Street to a new high rise/low rise residential complex (shown in gold).|
Finding the right tenant and land use mix
Hopefully, retail gurus are already busy trying to identify a tenant mix that can fill Harborplace's mostly empty space - a civic embarrassment where once was a "festival marketplace" that made international news for success and innovation. Hopefully, they're looking at its retail forerunners such as Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, Faneuil Hall in Boston and the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, as well as countless subsequent imitators, some of which have since gone defunct, to figure out what will work in the 2020s and what won't.
|The key to the proposed new residential complex (in gold) is orienting it to a "Main Street" style linear courtyard that is flexible enough to be anything from fully public to fully private with any mix of uses.|
|Architect's rendering of the building proposed for the site - a generic mixed-use high rise building which indicates they'll go in any direction the market demand takes them (MCB Real Estate).|
How to make Harborplace a neighborhood
|Birdseye aerial view showing above street-level linkage between Harborplace Pratt Street Pavilion, the Gallery at Harborplace retail/hotel complex (upper left) and the proposed "Main Street" residential complex (in gold, upper center).|