By Melody Simmons
Dec. 13, 2019
In a small conference room at City Hall, 12 city leaders met recently to scrutinize the mess unfolding at Harborplace.
The marketplace — once Baltimore’s heartbeat which heralded a legendary urban renaissance — is half vacant and overloaded with debt, default and image problems. It’s mired in a court-ordered receivership that stripped control from New York owner Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. and limited the city’s oversight.
The leaders including City Solicitor Andre Davis, Greater Baltimore Committee CEO Donald C. Fry and Abell Foundation President Robert Embry focused on one thing: Giving Baltimore’s citizens a voice in the battle to salvage the landmark.
Several scenarios could play out.
A group led by Bruce Alexander, Tony Hawkins and Richard Berndt, some of Harborplace’s original team, met this fall to explore a takeover and what it could look like and cost; a task force of business leaders has reached out to potential new owners. At least one local developer, David Cordish, is eyeing Harborplace’s acquisition out of receivership. Still another group is planning an elaborate 40th birthday party in July.
For its part, Ashkenazy says it is intent on keeping the property and restoring it to its glorious heights, claiming to have already pumped $17 million into improvements there.
“We very much would like to continue owning and revitalizing the property,” said Ashkenazy spokesman Chris Santarelli. “The lender initiated the receivership process and we consented because we thought it was the best way to move forward. We are hoping for a great resolution for all.”
Whatever the solution, the endgame is the same: saving Harborplace.
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Source: Baltimore Business Journal