Brandon Scott

A Letter from Mayor Brandon Scott

When I initially announced the concept of Downtown RISE last fall, it was meant to be a framework to guide downtown Baltimore’s next chapter and chart a course to making downtown even more dynamic, inclusive, and prosperous than it is now. Already, our downtown is Baltimore’s fastest growing residential neighborhood, and for our city to grow into its full potential, we must build on that progress. Since that announcement, members of my team have worked closely with Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and a number of our stakeholders to engage community members from across the city to shape and build a vision for the future of downtown. The result of that work is this complete strategic action plan: Downtown RISE.

We never do this work in a vacuum. Baltimore is a city of neighborhoods and in order for our downtown to be strong, our neighborhoods must be strong too. Every day my administration works to make our neighborhoods safer, healthier, and more vibrant. Numerous investments and developments are underway all across the city, from Uplands to Park Heights to Yard56 near Greektown and many, many more. In December, we also put forward our vision for the largest investment in Baltimore’s neighborhoods in our history – a 15-year plan to comprehensively address the vacant housing crisis once and for all.

Now, we’re putting forward our expanded vision for the future of downtown. Both are equally important. We know that what happens downtown impacts our neighborhoods, and what happens in our neighborhoods impacts downtown. We are all interconnected.

And we’re heading in the right direction. Baltimore has made incredible progress over the past three (3) years. In 2023, Baltimore experienced its largest single-year reduction in homicides in our city’s history, dropping more than 20%. This year, as of April 23rd, homicides are down an additional 32% on top of last year’s reduction and non-fatal shootings are down an additional 20%. Total violent crime is down 8% year-over-year. My administration continues to make public safety issues a top priority. And while we have made progress, we must continue to double down on our public safety efforts in our neighborhoods and in our downtown core.

We know that downtown is our city’s job hub, our primary tourism destination, and our economic engine. That is why undertaking the actions outlined in Downtown RISE now is so important. The heart of our city cannot wait. We must think about how we seize the opportunity in front of us to reimagine Baltimore’s Downtown by building on the investments already coming in, aggressively pursuing new businesses, growing downtown’s residential population, improving the cleanliness, safety, and infrastructure in downtown, bringing arts, placemaking and entertainment for all to enjoy, and implementing strategies to make downtown more pedestrian friendly.

Over the last 6 months, my Administration has been planning and drafting this action plan, and even begun implementing aspects of Downtown RISE. We have also been collaborating with a Downtown Stakeholder group, made up of both city and State officials, nonprofit and private stakeholders, on a master planning process for the future of our downtown. That process is comprehensive and is actively underway; it includes studying the street grid, connecting downtown assets, understanding traffic patterns, and making our downtown more livable and vibrant. While that work continues, the Downtown RISE Strategic Action Plan will serve as a bridge to the implementation of the broader ten-year vision we’re working on in partnership with all of those stakeholders.

The investments discussed in this report represent a significant focus on our downtown corridor, but the benefits of making our downtown more dynamic, inclusive, and prosperous are meant to serve every Baltimorean. Especially when combined with the investments and improvements we’re making in every corner of the city – together, these efforts will help build Baltimore’s renaissance and ensure we’re able to achieve our full potential. This is just a start.

Brandon M. Scott
Mayor of Baltimore