Fells Point is looking to add three new festivals this year, including a celebration of jazz and a Father’s Day antique car show.
The entertainment is a push to remind people of Fells Point’s stature as a fun and funky waterfront community, will be detailed in a Feb. 20 meeting with business owners and residents, said Misty Keens, executive director of Fells Point Main Street.
Until now, the annual Fells Point Fun Festival each fall has been the area’s lone street party.
The move to add extra merrymaking takes place after years of construction in the neighborhood that Keens said has negatively impacted revenue of the eclectic and unique shops and restaurants. The 2015 unrest after Freddie Gray’s death in police custody and the crime wave that followed haven’t helped.
“The state of Fells Point is strong. There’s a lot of heart here,” Keens said, adding that for the past two years business owners have struggled as construction from the $60 million redevelopment of the old Fells Point Rec Pier into the Sagamore Pendry hotel and a re-do of the public square at Broadway and Thames discouraged some visitors.
“A lot of residents and business owners give it their all to make the community shine. They have had a tough road, but they are open, committed and some of the best people you’ll meet.”
Keens said her Main Street nonprofit board that includes representatives from Brown Advisory, Beatty Development, the Pendry hotel, BCT Architects and small businesses like Poppy and Stella recently voted to add extra events: a jazz and art festival in May, a large crab feast with a “pop-up oyster bar” in the newly renovated Broadway Square in the fall and a Father’s Day antique car show.
The community will also host its own celebration during the city’s Light City festival April 14-21, even though it was not officially dubbed a Light City neighborhood by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts.
“The extra festivals are going to highlight our area and will attract people here to walk through the neighborhood to see how gorgeous it is,” she said. “Our sole focus is to really showcase what we’re doing in Fells Point and get as many people here to eat great food, listen to music and enjoy the area — and go back and tell their friends.”
Fundraising for the events will include a possible gala event and corporate sponsorships, she said.
The community recently hired the Waterfront Partnership to help patrol the area for safety and keep it clean. The private effort will cost about $560,000 annually and is being funded through an assessment of business owners.
A community meeting on Jan. 31 exposed tension in Fells Point as business owners and nearby residents decried how crime was affecting business and their lives. Billed as a “safety summit,” the event highlighted the challenges business owners are facing as the city struggles with violent crime and a drop in tourism and visitors since the 2015 unrest.
“We’re seeing a decrease in crime, statistics from the Waterfront Partnershipshow, but the perception does not meet the reality,” she said. “Social media does not help and sometimes things get blown out of proportion. Right now we are really looking toward the future.
– As reported by Melody Simmons, Reporter, Baltimore Business Journal on Feb. 13th, 2018