Fells Point adds festivals, subtracts grime and crime as it woos visitors
– By Melody Simmons, Baltimore Business Journal, February 26, 2018
They hauled away 30 tons of trash and power washed the walls and streets. At least 1,204 tags of graffiti and stickers were removed.
Now Fells Point is back — and ready for a new close-up.
“We picked up cigarette butts, took away graffiti and did power washing. We ended up with about 15,000 hours of service,” said Eric Souza, director of operations for the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore that was hired a year ago to gussy up Fells Point.
The changes will be promoted to help reinvigorate the community in the coming months, said Misty Keens, executive director of the nonprofit Fells Point Main Street.
“This is the year that we really showcase the gem of the neighborhood that we have again,” Keens said.
The Main Street group hosted its annual meeting at the Admiral Fell Inn and Keens told the group of about 40 present that the area was renewed and ready to welcome more feet on the street.
Plans in the coming months include a maritime festival in April, jazz and art festival in May and a Father’s Day antique car show in June. A new “chicken wing festival” is planned for Sept. 28.
Keens said the focus on retooling Fells Point’s image come as as the two sheds of Broadway Market are being redeveloped and will soon reopen. That will drive more patrons north along Broadway away from the popular waterfront where the Water Taxi and popular bars and restaurants draw big crowds each weekend night.
“We are incredibly clean and green,” Keens said, adding that new landscaping in the public square at Broadway and Thames Street will be coming in the spring alongside regular “sip and shop” retail events and even dining al fresco on closed-off streets once a month.
Data from the Waterfront Partnership showed that over the past year 30 tons of trash was removed from Fells Point by the nonprofit hired by property owners to focus on turning around the the day-to-day operations there. The group spent 347 hours last year power washing buildings and removed 1,204 stickers and graffiti tags, Souza said.
The partnership was hired at the end of 2017 to help clean up the Fells Point area that stretches south to the waterfront from Lombard Street and from Caroline to Chester streets west to east. It is paid by the business and property owners who pay 17 cents per $100 of assessed property value for the services.
The partnership also focused on public safety last year in Fells Point. Souza said violent crime like robberies, street robberies and assaults in Fells Point were reduced by 29 percent from last January while other crimes like burglary, property vandalism and crimes and larceny from vehicles increased.
“There is a perception issue we deal with day in and day out,” Souza said.
Keens said a three-year plan for Fells Point by her group will help to promote the area’s 222 storefront restaurants, retail shops and bars. The reopening of the Broadway Market sheds will help to drive foot traffic north along Broadway toward Aliceanna Street and beyond, she said.
“I feel like Fells Point is turning a corner,” said City Councilman Zeke Cohen, whose 1st District includes the community. “We’ve got to make sure we support our local businesses. Baltimore has to do a better job of telling its story.”
Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford told the group about efforts to highlight some of the small business objectives by the administration of Gov. Larry Hogan. They include a move to establish small business tax credits for granting paid sick leave and family leave to hourly workers, he said.