Originally Posted by WesK
Baltimore's Inner Harbor is doing very well. Norfolk, VA had a "Waterside" which was in sad shape two years ago and is now being torn down.
I'm not sure why some of these work and some do not.
Having been to those two, I have opinions as to why one works and one doesn't.
Baltimore's Inner Harbor is part of an incredible redeveloped area with a lot of attractions. It houses thousands of local boaters and doesn't depend on just transients. It's part of a Riverfront area that attracts land and water visitors. There was real commitment. The city went all in. There have been others similar. Chattanooga, much smaller, inland river, studied Baltimore and Boston and others. Their riverfront area is beautiful but not dependent on transients. Does have river cruises for visitors. Incredible aquarium. Then annually they have their Riverfest, which is one of the most remarkable 9 day festivals of any city.
Contrast with Waterside. Far from heavy population, not a place for locals and couldn't pull them. Proof that you can't survive if your appeal is just to visitors unless you've got far more to attract people than they did. If you were in the area, why travel out there to eat? There was nothing there except Waterside. Not surrounded by entertainment and activity. Sort of Lone Wolf syndrome.
Building something great on the water requires a city or town to be "all-in". Baltimore went all in and there is so much activity in that area. By comparison, Waterside reminded me more of movie sets where you have these beautiful building fronts but nothing behind them. I think it was a shame as Waterside could have been nice, but had very unrealistic expectations. There was nothing to pull people from the population areas or visitors from the beaches. We docked at Waterside. Nice. And we had it all to ourselves.
Someone else mentioned Philadelphia. I don't hear of anyone cruising there. We do plan to do so sometime. You almost wouldn't know Philadelphia was accessible by water. To my knowledge, they've never focused on it. I know they have a development organization and Penn's Landing but when you think of boating communities, they never come to mind. It appears either locals are not into boating or do it elsewhere. Now, in reality, given it's population, New York City hasn't done much in the area of boating. However, New York is a city tourists flock to and Philadelphia just doesn't have that pull.