How often does a city have the opportunity to redefine its core?
Not to redefine its character, but to truly take a fresh look at what urban redevelopment can and should look like in a downtown business center? For Baltimore, that opportunity has come, and it exists in the heart of the Bromo Arts District. Along Howard Street, between Fayette and Lexington, what was once the downtown’s bustling Five & Dime shopping district, lined with department stores and buzzing with pedestrian activity, two entire blocks have sat vacant for far too long. The heart of the city geographically, The Bromo District represents a melting pot of people, ideas, business, and potential.
Finally, in 2020, after years of sitting vacant, a new set of plans to convert the blighted, vacant chunk of downtown once known as the Super Block got a thumbs up from the city to move ahead – a massive two-block project that is now being called The Compass.
The corner of Lexington and Howard Streets as proposed by The Compass
We want to revive what was once the most active commercial district in the city. It has to be done thoughtfully and it must include amazing local partners and stakeholders to help create a captivating new experience for everyone in the city to enjoy. As Baltimoreans, we owe it to ourselves to realize the potential sitting here.Chris Janian, President of Vitruvius Co.
Assembling the Right Team
After an intensive RFP process over the past year, Baltimore City and the Baltimore Development Corporation awarded two RFPs for Howard & Fayette Street and Lexington & Howard Street to Westside Partners, LLC, a joint venture led by Mayson Dixson and Vitruvius Co. The awarding of these RFPs accounts for what equates to an entire two city blocks of redevelopment in the heart of the city.
Cohere is honored to be playing a part in this next phase of The Compass development by supporting the storytelling, web design, branding, and communications for the development as it moves forward.
The proposed development, The Compass, will be one of the largest investments in the Bromo Arts District and the city overall in recent decades, and will set the tone for the future of development in Baltimore. To realize this project’s vision will be to realize Baltimore’s full potential.
In recent years, the Bromo has seen revived interest through community activations with great success. The first annual Charm City Night Market, organized by the Chinatown Collective brought dozens of local vendors and thousands of visitors together for a one night block party in the center of the district, offering a taste of what’s to come.
When Bromo succeeds, the city succeeds
Once complete, The Compass will bridge the divide between Central Business District, Mt. Vernon, and the Westside jumpstarting thoughtful development in the larger area. More than that, the dynamic programming and tenant mix will respect the buildings’ and neighborhood’s historic fabric, interspersing history with best practices in modern construction and development. The proposal calls for best-in-class adaptive reuse of the neighborhood’s historic assets, paired with savvy new construction practices. By proximity, it will also amplify existing destination-worthy assets, making The Compass the central connector to the area’s already stellar cultural gems such as the Hippodrome Theater, Royal Farms Arena, and Lexington Market.
Since 2011, there has been little new development around the proposed parcels that make up The Compass. While the rest of Baltimore’s surrounding CBD has seen multifamily, office, and retail investment, the Howard Street Corridor remains largely vacant. This comprehensive plan fills that “donut hole” with value-add components not currently found in the vicinity. Think: world-class coworking and office amenities, nationally-acclaimed entertainment, every type of multifamily living, a focus on wellness and accessibility, and top-notch locally-owned small business operators.
What is a place without people?
By genuinely partnering with artistic, creative and cultural organizations, the development will become Baltimore’s next destination…again. This project will do more than attract residents and city dwellers to the district through a unique tenant mix. With its high density of spaces for office, creative, biotech, and cultural programming this project will ultimately help spawn the next round of industry-defining companies born from Baltimore.
As a multi-staged and massive redevelopment effort, change won’t happen overnight. Cohere and partners are committed to a long-term vision for The Compass and hope you’ll follow the progress as more milestones are reached.