Baltimore City officials will start a long-planned, $2 million demolition of a skywalk over Baltimore Street at Hopkins Plaza as part of an effort to make downtown plazas more inviting and to attract office and retail tenants.
The project, funded by the city transportation and planning departments, the Baltimore Development Corp. and the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, will also include new landscaping and other upgrades, such as the removal of a staircase at the southern end of the skywalk.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is to kick off the six-month renewal project Thursday evening at an on-site ceremony.
The improvements are designed to enhance the Charles Center district at a time when the shuttered Morris A. Mechanic Theatre is slated for redevelopment. Also, urban planners tend to frown on skywalks, saying they unnecessarily separate pedestrians from street-level shopping.
The elevated passage, part of a system of skywalks connecting plazas and buildings around them, currently links the north side of Hopkins Plaza to an area between two hotels on Baltimore Street.
"The thinking that created the skywalk system has changed," said Michael Evitts, a spokesman for the Downtown Partnership. "Today, urban planners don't want to get people off the street level."