Abell Salutes: The Downtown Partnership

November 2002 / Salutes / Community Development

Bringing pride back into downtown Baltimore.

Everyday the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore is working to ensure that the potential of the region’s economic and cultural hub is realized, keeping Baltimore’s downtown the center of the entire region.

Although the Partnership’s Clean and Safe programs are its most visible, the Partnership has been an advocate for a number of issues critical to downtown. These issues include: increasing availability of parking, building downtown’s residential base, activating open spaces, and improving the area’s pedestrian and aesthetic appeal.

Examples include…

  • The Partnership is coordinating an effort to transform downtown into the region’s newest neighborhood. Presently there are 3,030 apartments either in the pre-leasing, construction or planning stages, in order to keep up with a reported demand for as many as 1,700 new units annually in downtown.
  • The organization is improving downtown’s total environment by making money available for façade improvements and working with the City’s Department of Housing and Community Development to enforce building codes and aesthetic standards.
  • Through the Partnership’s landmark Video Patrol program, 64 cameras are now online throughout downtown. Since the installation of the cameras, robberies have declined by 43 percent along Howard Street, and by 32 percent along the historic Charles Street corridor. Car break-ins along Howard Street dipped 7 percent in 2000, and by 20 percent along Charles Street.
  • Public Safety Guides serve as extra eyes and ears for the police. In the past year alone the guides aided over 232,000 people, assisted police over 180 times, and provided support to downtown businesses in nearly 60,000 cases.
  • The Clean Sweep Ambassadors continue to perform the kinds of nitty-gritty activities needed to keep downtown attractive. Since 1993, the Clean Team has swept 495 tons of trash from downtown streets and removed graffiti and fliers from 8,000 locations.
  • In collaboration with the City’s State’s Attorney’s Office, the Partnership started the Downtown Court Watch Program, an initiative which is increasing community involvement in the criminal justice process and improving the disposition of “quality of life” crimes.
  • The Partnership recently launched DASH, the “Downtown Area Shuttle,” in order to give commuters an alternative to the daily garage grind. A fleet of ten buses now run two routes throughout the Central Business District and downtown’s West Side, with even enhanced commuter convenience.
  • Dramatic progress is being made in the Partnership’s initiative to improve the appearance of downtown with the installation of new sidewalks, pedestrian and street lighting, trees, flowerpots, newspaper box corrals, benches, reinforced streets, and other aesthetic enhancements.
  • Through its marketing initiatives and special events, such as the First Thursday concert series, Picnics in the Park and most notably, Downtown For the Holidays, Downtown Partnership of Baltimore continues its mission to market downtown as the premier place in the region to live, work and play.

Says Partnership’s president Michelle Whelley: “Nearly 80 percent of downtown property owners and tenants surveyed currently have favorable impressions of their community. The Partnership is building on that
success by continually raising the bar, and working to ensure that every business in Baltimore’s downtown is proud to be a part of it.”

The Abell Foundation salutes Michele Whelley and the Downtown Partnership for bringing pride back to downtown Baltimore.