Since 2004, Kirby Fowler has served as President of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, Inc., a nonprofit corporation working to make Downtown Baltimore a destination of choice for businesses, employees, residents, and visitors. During his tenure, the Partnership has worked to dramatically transform a predominantly commercial district into a mixed-use neighborhood with new cultural attractions and a burgeoning residential population. Along the way, the Partnership has helped to preserve dozens of significant historic buildings and to give them new life as theaters, restaurants, and apartment buildings. According to the U.S. Census, the central core of Downtown is now considered the “fastest growing” and one of the “most integrated” residential neighborhoods in the City. The entire Downtown area ranks 11th in the country in the number of residents and 14th in the country in the number of employees (of the top 25 most populous cities and regions, one-mile radius comparisons).
During Kirby’s tenure, the Partnership has supported growth in the office market and retail sector; revitalized parks such as Center Plaza, Preston Gardens, McKeldin Square, and Courthouse Plaza; transformed Pratt Street by reimagining the streetscape and supporting brand-new retail developments; provided grants to small and minority-owned businesses to open in storefronts; proposed new transit strategies such as the Charm City Circulator; connected the homeless to housing and other supportive services; actively supported and funded artists in the Bromo Tower Arts District; expanded events and marketing, including the construction of the 60-foot “Baltimore” sign and video screen on Amtrak’s Penn Station hillside; and launched the first and largest “Restaurant Week” in the region.
With a $9 million annual budget, the Downtown Partnership employs 120 people dedicated to: promoting economic development; producing demographic and market studies; implementing and monitoring infrastructure projects; cleaning sidewalks and streets; coordinating public safety initiatives; maintaining public space environments; overseeing park spaces and greening initiatives; marketing Downtown assets and amenities; presenting events and programing in public spaces; supporting transit alternatives; and providing business networking opportunities.
From 2014 to 2018, Kirby chaired the boards of the Baltimore City Public Markets Corporation and Lexington Market Inc. During his tenure, the Markets Corp. redeveloped and rehabilitated Cross Street Market and Broadway Market, for the first time in decades, and unveiled renovation plans for Hollins Market. Lexington Market Inc. issued a master plan, leading to the adoption of a plan to construct a new market, open Lexington Street for pedestrian use, and preserve the East Market structure for new purposes. Pursuant to this strategy, Lexington Market Inc. retained a developer consultant, hired architects and engineers, and raised $17 million.
Before beginning work at the Downtown Partnership, Kirby was an attorney handling matters involving land use, economic development, employment law, and contracts. Kirby also served as Special Assistant for Economic and Neighborhood Development under Mayor Martin O'Malley, where he led the creation of Station North Arts & Entertainment District. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and New York University School of Law.