The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore recently redesigned its website as part sales pitch and part guide.
The reworked site offers information about community news, events, where to live, eat, shop and where to park in an effort to draw more people to live in the city, help new residents get to know downtown and be a tool for visitors.
The local nonprofit's goal was to make the site, godowntownbaltimore.com, more useful for consumers in Baltimore, with a focus on "functionality, layout and design," said Michael Evitts, a spokesman for the partnership.
"Instead of business-to-business, it's business-to-consumer," Evitts said of the site, which used to be aimed at businesses.
Though the downtown population has been growing, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake wants to attract 10,000 more families to the city during the next 10 years and sees the partnership's website as a useful tool in working toward that goal.
"The Downtown Partnership, I think, has been one of the most impactful partners in my goal of growing the city," she said.
With nearly 41,000 people residing within a mile of Pratt and Light streets, there are more residents living downtown now than there have been for years, the partnership said. A 2003 partnership study found that 6,000 people lived downtown, but did not include such large neighborhoods as Federal Hill and Fells Point.
On the partnership's website, users can find a map that offers specific information about downtown neighborhoods and can search for available residences. Across downtown, developers are converting older buildings into apartments amid growing demand for urban living.
More than 4,100 units are in development. In 2012, a study by the partnership found that growing demand meant the city could absorb 5,800 new apartment units by 2017, Evitts said.
At 520 Park Ave. in Mount Vernon, The Time Group is turning a 1941-era warehouse and distribution center used by department store Hochschild, Kohn and Co. into 171 apartments.
The market-rate apartments are set to open in late June and are leasing quickly, said Dominic Wiker, Time Group's development director, because "people are looking for a new product. They like the fact that it's a historical building with modern amenities."
In addition, residents and visitors to Baltimore can search the website to find attractions and events. A mobile version will be launched soon so people can "plan their day as their day evolves," Evitts said.
The website, designed by the Ainsley and Co. advertising agency, has what CEO Tom Ainsley describes as a "clean" look and is meant to attract people who live or work in Baltimore, visitors, businesses and longtime residents who want to see what's new downtown.
Now that the site has been launched, Ainsley said, the biggest goal is for people to come back to the site after their first visit.
"If they're looking for information, this is a place to start," he said. "It's the authority on what's happening specifically in downtown Baltimore."
•The Downtown Partnership considers downtown to be a one-mile radius, with the epicenter at Pratt and Light streets.
•Baltimore is eighth in the country in terms of downtown population (almost 41,000 residents); in 2003, there were 6,000 people living in the downtown.
•Previously, downtown did not include some areas such as Fells Point and Federal Hill.
Source: the Downtown PartnershipCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun