Natalie Paymer watched the fog roll out and the people roll in, the sun slowly make the quiet harbor glisten and the merchants scurry to open their stores for the opening of Harborplace, the glass and brick retail center on the city's inner harbor.
Harborplace officially opened today amidst much fanfare and flocks of Baltimoreans. And for Paymer that meant that she wasn't ashamed to live in Baltimore anymore.
"Baltimore has become a place, and now it's a place people wouldn't ignore," Paymer said. "I was embarrassed to say I was from Baltimore. It was so zero here. There was nothing to do."
Harborplace, a $20 million, two-pavillion retail center on three acres of land surrounding the inner harbor is intended to make more Baltimore residents proud of their city, particularly the merchants. It is the fifth major anchor for the city's downtown revitalization plan and is intended to attract more private investment there.
However, Mayor William D. Schaefer, at a press converence in the 21st floor of the city's World Trade Center overlooking the harbor, said that he doesn't know of another major private project planned for the city. Harborplace was developed by the Rouse Co.
But Harborplace, "isn't the end," Sachaefer said. The city can't depend on one retail project, he added. "The city has to think about new things. I don't know what the next major project will be." But he added that he wants to improve the city's central retail district.
Harborplace and the city's new convention center together provide "the opportunity to bring conventions here, conventions that never would have come," Schaefer said.
Although Harborplace hasn't spawned another new project, Schaefer said that it has resulted in successful homesteading programs nearby in which residents buy old, dilapidated homes for $1 and renovate them, new entry-level jobs and more activity downtown at night.
Still under construction on the harbor is a national aquarium and a 500-room Hyatt hotel which are two of the are's main anchors. Last year the city opened a new convention center across the street from the harbor, and a science center is the fifth anchor in the harbor area.
Also planned in a 250-unit-high-rise housing and retail complex across from the inner harbor.
Today the inner harbor, which 10 years ago consisted mostly of old warehouses and the aroma of rotting fish, was filled with about 3,000 spectators sniffing creations of outdoor cafes, eyeing colorful goods in the glass-enclosed stores and watching a parade of boats and local dignitaries. CAPTION: Picture 1, Spectators crowd Baltimore's inner harbor yesterday during the opening of Harborplace, a $20 million, two-pavilion, three-acre retail center. By Gerald Martineau -- The Washington Post; Picture 2, Rouse Co. President Mathias J. DeVito, Chairman James Rouse, and Baltimore Mayor William D. Schaefer cut one of many ribbons during Harborplace dedication yesterday in Baltimore's inner harbor. By Gerald Martineua -- The washington Post