Designers said they have deliberately created something that can be carried out in increments, with funding coming piecemeal.

"Money is always a consideration, but at the same time, I think you … have to set out a vision for what you want it to be," said Donald C. Fry, the GBC's president and CEO. "If you can set that vision and find the political will and also the support and excitement about these projects from the private sector and the public, there are ways to find [funding]."

On Oct. 3, Rawlings-Blake asked Gov. Martin O'Malley to include $3 million in each of the next three years for Inner Harbor improvements as part of the state's capital budget. A spokeswoman for the governor confirmed the request but said it is too early to comment on the budget, which is still in development.

Schwartz said the group has also submitted proposals to be included in the city's capital improvement plan and has started to look at grants and approach private entities about the projects.

"There are a whole host of different funding sources that we are identifying," she said. "I've seen a lot of interest."

During the planning process, the group met with private interests along the harbor, including Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., which bought Harborplace last year for nearly $100 million. A Waterfront Partnership survey of residents found that people wanted to see more locally owned restaurants.

The plan is focused on the public space, said Schwartz, adding that "affecting retail mix is a tough one."

"We are hopeful that the owners of Harborplace will be coming in with a redevelopment plan within the coming months," she said.

Rawlings-Blake also pointed to the role that the owners of private buildings along the waterfront, particularly Harborplace, have to play in revitalizing the area.

"Harborplace is a linchpin in making the transformation," she said.

Development of this plan, the product of more than 200 meetings, started in February. Backers said it would likely take decades for all aspects of the plan to come to fruition.

"What is going to be necessary is for there to be full enthusiasm and support from the citizenry, from the neighborhoods around the harbor, the political leaders and the business leaders … to say this is important," Gross said.

nsherman@baltsun.com