Business Says Crime Forcing It out of City

Peter Hemann, Baltimore Sun, June 9, 2009

A Mid-town venture capital firm announced in an e-mail to the mayor last week that it was moving out of Baltimore because of crime. The mayor expressed doubts that was the true reason, but either way it’s an economic loss for the city at a time when people are fearing a series of random attacks from Federal Hill to Bolton Hill.

While city leaders scramble to downplay the incidents and repeat stastics that crime is down, they are moving up to 50 cops, including undercover detectives, to the Inner Harbor and downtown areas.

Mayor Sheila Dixon, talking with me on Friday, noted that a recent reported attack on a youth at the Inner Harbor turned out to be staged as a gang initiation ceremony. The kids are from Federal Hill’s Digital Harbor school, and while the scenario shows that this attack wasn’t random, it doesn’t do much to alleviate concerns that gangs are not downtown.

Here is the e-mail from New Enterprise Associates’ general counsel, Louis Citron:

Dear Mayor Dixon,

My name is Louis Citron and I am the General Counsel at New Enterprise Associates. We are a venture capital firm located at 1119 St. Paul Street and have been located in the mid town/Belvedere hotel area for nearly 30 years. We have approximately 35 employees located at this office. I also live in Roland Park.

We would like you to know that New Enterprise Associates has decided to move its Baltimore city office to Timonium. We calculated that our decision will cost the merchants in this neighborhood at least $200,000 per year in revenue as we are terminating, among others, our cleaning service and security guard, and will no longer be paying for parking spaces in the local garages, and no longer buying our lunches from local restaurants and the Maryland Club.

Our decision was a result of the high level of crime in our neighborhood. Over the last several years, many of our cars have been broken into resulting in very expensive repairs, our employees have been robbed at gun point, drug needles and used condoms have been left on our front stoop, and psychotic homeless people have menaced our employees and threatened to kill them. We have voiced our frustrations to the local community leaders and police, but the environment has only worsened. The recent local beatings by roving teenagers during the day in this neighborhood, the raucous club in the basement of the Belvedere, and other gang violence throughout the city reinforces the appropriateness of New Enterprise Associates’ decision to move in order to protect its employees.

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[Editor’s Note: Demographic information for the downtown area of Baltimore (ZIP code 21201) can be viewed here.]

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