Even as The Gallery at Harborplace mall appears to be heading toward closing, the owner of the downtown Baltimore tower it’s in is spending millions to renovate its common spaces to welcome new office tenants.
Brookfield Properties said Wednesday that it is investing $12 million in upgrades and new amenities in the building at 111 S. Calvert St.
Vendors in the multistory mall said they have been told they must vacate the space by the end of the year as Brookfield reconsiders its plans for the building.
Brookfield announced the office renovation in a joint release with Ballard Spahr, saying that the law firm would move its Baltimore office and 100 employees to a 21,000-square-foot space in the building under a long-term lease starting next April.
Brookfield representatives said the transition marks a new chapter for the Gallery.
“We are excited to welcome Ballard Spahr to the firm’s new Baltimore home ... which is undergoing a repositioning into a destination where employees can access modern health and wellness amenities and enjoy iconic views of the city,” said Greg Meyer, Brookfield’s executive vice president and D.C. region head, in a statement.
The office space renovations will feature a host of perks for tenants, including an “amenity lounge” and sky terrace and a fitness center. The renovation is scheduled to be completed by the end of this month.
In addition to The Gallery mall, the 28-story building at Pratt and Calvert streets includes 265,000 square feet of office space, the 680-room Renaissance Hotel and a five-level underground parking garage.
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Other major tenants include Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Cigna Health and Northwestern Mutual, which signed a 10-year lease extension with Brookfield for a 7,000-square-foot space in the building.
Jon Laria, managing partner at Ballard Spahr, said the Baltimore firm had hoped to reaffirm its commitment to Baltimore’s Central Business District, which has declined as tenants move out or to other parts of the city in recent years.
“In this weird time, a time where we’re all going back to work, it’s nice to have something to look forward to,” Laria said.
Retail spaces and office buildings have undergone challenges during the coronavirus pandemic after the infectious virus swept the world in March 2020 and radically changed how people worked, shopped and conducted business. Brick-and-mortar retailers have clung on or faltered as consumers took advantage of online shopping and stayed away from crowded indoor spaces.
But the Gallery’s problems predate the public health crisis. The adjacent Harborplace marketplace, constructed in the 1980s to be downtown’s focal point, has declined in the decades since. Harborplace has been in court-appointed receivership since 2019, when its New York owned defaulted on the loan for the property.
Last month, a Brookfield spokeswoman, Laura Montross, said the private New York company is “evaluating several potential options to reposition the Gallery that will meet the needs of the market.”
This article may be updated.