What do we do now? Now, we rebuild. That is the standard answer given at the end of any disaster and/or horror movie that involves mass destruction. Although COVID isn't a movie, it's all too real however as more and more people are vaccinated and herd immunity gets closer, we must think of a plan to move forward from the devastation that COVID has brought to Baltimore.
Sadly, this post isn't some plan to refill Downtown's rapidly emptying Office Buildings. This post does discuss what wasn't devastated during COVID and how that may change things permanently. So lets see what has not only survived during COVID but what has thrived during it as well.
Wait! Didn't I just post restaurants in the previous post as something that has taken a massive hit? I did, however Restaurants in many cases are looking to creative new ways to keep themselves afloat. Restaurants that had never used delivery services such as DoorDash, Grub Hub, Uber Eats etc. and curbside pickup as well as "Cocktails to Go" have been literal lifesavers to those who haven't been able to offer seating or be at a very limited capacity. Another promising sign for Baltimore is that when a Restaurant closes, new Restaurateurs have been scouting out those spaces and have made plans to open their own concepts. Though this hasn't been the case for every single closed Restaurant, I find it very encouraging that Restaurateurs are still seeking out space.
Residential Real Estate Market
Grass Roots Efforts
A lot of the new development projects and businesses being launched during this pandemic have been "for the little guy" An example of this is how commercial kitchens have popped up for food trucks. Also many developments have been affordable housing in often overlooked part of the City. The blocks of Howard Sr. in Downtown's Westside have been the subject of many redevelopment efforts with new businesses and Residents signing leases to live there. In Upton, Druid Heights, and Penn North land is being assembled to build new homes where dilapidated boarded up homes and businesses once stood or have long since been demolished. What's great about these new developments besides their affordability is the fact that they haven't been the same old developers spear heading theses projects, it's younger minority owned firms who have been getting their feet in the door. If successful perhaps these new developers will chosen for larger projects.
Ah yes, the Grocery Stores. The paranoia that surrounded the earlier months of this pandemic have helped Grocery Stores cash in like never before with isles of toilet, paper, milk, eggs, bread, flour, beef, chicken and many more items being sold out for months on end. Not only that, whenever these items were in stock, the price could skyrocket since the production was so low. Shop from programs launched by stores themselves have been perfected like well oiled machines in the past year while still in their infancy pre-pandemic. Also personal shoppers through apps like "InstaCart" have had their profits soar.
As Office Space downsizes in some cases permanently, commercial landlords are left with a plethora of Office Space to fill and now they must decide how to move forward with how to best lease them out. Before this can happen, these aging Office Buildings will most certainly undergo significant renovations if they are to compete with newer buildings not only across the City but across the region. One way in which this is being done redefining the work space by limiting the footprint that Offices take by sharing workspaces to allow more people to work remotely without wasting space. A lot of these renovations occurring include modernizing common areas and adding amenities found in newer buildings to compete. With or without COVID being a factor, the fight to retain and attract Office Tenants was brewing for quite some time and is now in full force.
Now that just about wraps my coverage of how COVID has effected Baltimore and which parts have fared poorly and which parts aren't faring as bad. Keep in mind this barely scratches the surface and a million more forces are at play that have made Baltimore have the year it did. Some of these were accidents waiting to happen that were sped up by COVID while others will right themselves while vaccinations continue and we come closer to herd immunity. Since we haven't achieved that yet, we must Sit On it for a while longer.