The Downtown Partnership released its annual "State of Downtown Baltimore Report" and despite the economic and social disruptions of 2020, researchers are hopeful cities, including Baltimore, will make a comeback.
- Well, the Downtown partnership releases its annual report for the state of Downtown Baltimore. Now, despite the economic and social disruptions of 2020, researchers are hopeful that Baltimore will make a comeback. WJZ live at 6 o'clock tonight. Ava-joye Burnett tells us about the challenges but also the bright spots in this report. Ava-joye?
AVA-JOYE BURNETT: Rick, good afternoon. Well, this report reinforces the fact that there are so many sectors that are interconnected. The live performance venues are connected to the hotels, the hotels to the restaurants. So when one thing gets hit, everyone feels the ripple effect. But there is optimism for 2021. In 2019, as the world switched the calendar to a new decade, the outlook was bright.
SHELONDA STOKES: The energy and vibrancy, and really the excitement that people were looking forward to.
AVA-JOYE BURNETT: But the superb vision for 2020 turned dull in a matter of weeks. An unknown virus dashed hopes.
- My hopes and dreams were really big for 2020.
AVA-JOYE BURNETT: And changed life as we knew it.
- We've had a lot of great family time, so that's been a plus.
AVA-JOYE BURNETT: Much like the rest of the world, Baltimore, and specifically the downtown district, suffered. Employment dropped, hotels and restaurants were hit, businesses closed. Office vacancies downtown reached 23%, even higher than the national average. But a new report from the Downtown Partnership says there's reason for optimism because downtown districts are resilient.
- Baltimore and our other great cities will survive. Previous pandemics far worse than this, none of them have damped down this long arc of urbanization.
AVA-JOYE BURNETT: Another sign things are picking up, the traffic is back. And when you look at something as simple as parking, today, as opposed to a year ago, the spots are filling up on the lower levels. But now you have to go up to a higher level to find even more space. The recovery could take some time, but experts say there's now light at the end of the road because people now have the desire to get back out there. And that's what will rev up Baltimore's economy.
SHELONDA STOKES: This is the resurgence. And sometimes you get some of the best opportunity through challenge.
AVA-JOYE BURNETT: And something else that we saw in that report, the need for housing downtown remained pretty much unchanged. So what that means is high rises like this one right here are still pretty much in high demand. Live the 6:00, Ava-joye Burnett for WJZ.