BALTIMORE — This is personal for Tony Hawkins. The first general manager of Harborplace is speaking out tonight.
Tony is pure Baltimore. Walbrook raised and educated at City College, Morgan and Hopkins.
WMAR-2 News' Jamie Costello sat down with him three blocks from where he reinvented our city back in 1980.
It is painful for him to talk about what he calls 'miss management'. He won’t even do a drive- by.
“It makes me physically ill to go there,” he said in front of a six foot high window that stares out at the place he created.
Back in its day, Baltimoreans were invited, not New Yorkers, Philly, or DC.
“We wouldn’t spend a dime outside of the Baltimore area because if we couldn’t get the people from this area to appreciate this project it wouldn’t work,” he explained.
He believes the fall came when Phillips, the anchor to it all, decided to leave.
We knew Rouse, but we didn’t know the other companies that ran the place. Tony was pretty blunt about this.
“We don’t know them and they don’t know us and that was a problem,” he said.
We asked him if he were in charge again what would be his first step. Tony looked down and looked up, “The first thing I would do is ask people to be patient because this is a long term fix.”
He thinks we can have flag stores and hot dog stands again, but that Harborplace will look different. He would not tear it down.
“Absolutely it can be a success again, but you need people who care, if you don’t care don’t get involved,” Hawkins said.
The new owner is David Bramble and Tony is excited.
They’ve already talked about the past and the future. He believes he is the right man in charge but needs help and support from the Governor and Mayor.
The big issue is crime.
“You have to feel secure. Right now people won’t come down for dinner or for a night," he explained. "They have to get the crime and dirt cleaned up. You can’t have 20 squeegee boys descend upon your car, it frightens people. Can’t have it. It's got to stop.”
Tony thinks the new Harborplace will be transformed into something grand and spectacular and why can’t this place be the talk of the world like it was in 1980 under his magic wand.