post-title 30 Years in Downtown Frederick

30 Years in Downtown Frederick

30 Years in Downtown Frederick

30 Years in Downtown Frederick

 Founded in 1990 as a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, Downtown Frederick Partnership is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020, and what better way to celebrate than to look back on the history of Downtown Frederick Partnership and how it all began…


  • Downtown Frederick is in a significantly deteriorated state – impacted by significant flooding, the loss of major retailers to the first mall in Frederick and the development of interstates that connect residents with DC/Baltimore.  Committed citizens begin work to create a more viable Downtown Frederick. Citizen groups achieve several successes. These efforts built the foundation for future organizations.


  • Fueled by citizens’ initial efforts, Ken Rice, representing the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, recommends a new economic development group to focus on the downtown business district to stimulate economic climate.
    • Mayor Paul Gordon supports new organization – Greater Frederick Development Corporation (GDFC) a non-profit organization with a 25-person board of directors:

Robert E. Gearinger      Joseph D. Baker      Steven Chafitz        Donald C. Linton

Bette Shafer               W. Bert Anderson     Richard R. Burgee     Nancy G. Floria

Scott Grove            Marilyn Harrington    Connie Martin          Richard Kessler

Peter H. Plamondon       Norman Quist          Ken Rice        Colleen M. Remsberg

Daryl Routzahn          Michael Smariga       Paul P. Gordon      Sue Ann Yingling

Jeff Downing            Meta Nash            David G. Clark         Jeanne Vasold         

Kitty Reed

  • Committee members include:  Archie Rogers, Maribeth Visco, Gary Hughes, and Jonathan Warner


  • Phil Bowers returns to Frederick and opens Brewer’s Alley — creates Downtown Frederick dining destination in former City Hall and Opera House building.

Mid 1990s

  • Mayor Jim Grimes expands the mission of GFDCbeyond Downtown Frederick. GFDC now is responsible for economic development for all of the City of Frederick

December 1997

  • City partners with Frederick Community Action Agency, Frederick Alliance of Financial Institutions and GFDCto sponsor a home ownership program which emphasizes converting renters to home owners. Frederick is one of only 15 regions selected to receive funding.

August 1999

  • Frederick City’s Public Works Department and GFDCrecommend area near Delphey parking lot for new parking deck.

May 2000

  • First Mayfest held in Downtown Frederick

Summer 2000

  • Randy McClement, owner of The Market Bagel & Deli Shop, helps organize the Frederick Alliance to address downtown merchants’ concerns.

August 2000

  • Richard Griffin replaces Jerry Moomau who resigns from GFDC post after eight years at the organization’s helm.
  • Randy McClement named GFDC board member after forming Frederick Alliance six months earlier. Frederick Alliance eventually folds into GFDC.


  • Downtown Parking Plan drafted by GFDC leads to the hiring of a consultant to create an expanded parking study for Downtown Frederick
  • GFDC designated a Main Street organization by the City of Frederick, State of Maryland and National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • GFDC spearheaded an innovative planning process and master plan for the development of the new gateway corridor which includes East Street extension and new MARC train station


  • National Trust for Historic Preservation names Downtown Frederick one of its Dozen Distinctive Destinations

February 2002

  • GFDC’s budget is reduced by 40 percent due to a reduction in City funding. Mayor Dougherty creates the City’s Department of Economic Development. Following the budget reduction, GFDC refocuses its mission solely on Downtown Frederick

Late Summer 2002

  • Richard Griffin becomes City of Frederick’s director of newly created Department of Economic Development

 October 2002

  • Kara Norman joins GFDC as Executive Director. Her prior experience includes work as a neighborhood planner and special projects coordinator in San Antonio and brings more than a decade of planning experience. She holds post graduate degree in planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

March 2003

  • GFDC promotes and launches First Saturday Gallery Walk (now First Saturday)
  • Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development designates Downtown Frederick Arts & Entertainment District. This district is jointly managed by Frederick Arts Council and GFDC

July 2003

  • Greater Frederick Development Corporation changes name to Downtown Frederick Partnership (the Partnership) better reflecting the organization’s mission to improve, promote, and preserve vitality of Downtown Frederick


  • First Alive @ Five Concert Series held on Carroll Creek by the Partnership

April 2004

  • South Market Center marks the first investment along the Carroll Creek corridor to adjoin public spaces such as the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center, the C Burr Artz Public Library and the MARC Transit Station. Named SoMar for South Market (later re-named SoMa), includes South Market Commons, a luxury residential project across creek
  • The Partnership funds first facade improvement grant.


  • National Trust for Historic Preservation names Downtown Frederick a Great American Main Street –the first Maryland City to receive this recognition
  • The Downtown Frederick Partnership Board of Directors endorses the Board of Education’s decision to locate a consolidated school administrative building in Downtown Frederick


  • The Downtown Frederick Gift Card program is created to promote shopping local in Downtown


  • The Competitive Edge Series is launched to support the downtown business owners and their staff, providing educational resources and opportunities to grow and expand their business


  • The Partnership obtains more than $650,000 in funds for wayfinding system implementation


  • The first ever First Saturday attendee survey was completed and revealed that an average of nearly 11,000 people attend the event each month. More than three-quarters of those responding to the surveys indicated they came to Downtown Frederick specifically to attend First Saturday and spend on average $450,000 in downtown businesses each month
  • Launched the Get It Downtown campaign to encourage shoppers to buy local. A special photo contest challenged patrons to take creative photos of themselves with the items they purchased downtown
  • In partnership with the Tourism Council of Frederick County, launched Frederick Restaurant Week


  • Downtown Frederick Partnership celebrates its 20th Anniversary with limited edition merchandise from Downtown Frederick merchants available and year-long festivities planned to coincide with highly successful First Saturdays
  • Assisted with the implementation of the Downtown Frederick Pilot Commercial Recycling Program and worked with the City of Frederick to address the urgent need for weekend garbage service which resulted in new Saturday night garbage collection


  • Participated in the Downtown Hotel and Conference Center Task Force to represent the interests of downtown businesses in the updated Downtown Hotel and Conference Center Study by the Maryland Stadium Authority, which revealed that Downtown Frederick’s strong amenities, transit-oriented design and selection of available sites make it an ideal location for a full-service hotel with conference facilities


  • Completed three large streetscape improvement projects:
    • Held the first ever Bring a Broom Saturday
    • Installed bronze markers in partnership with the Tourism Council of Frederick County along Carroll Creek park and adjoining streets to commemorate the contributions of early Fredericktonians
    • Installed bike racks throughout Downtown Frederick
  • Moved into office where Partnership is currently located at 19 E Church St
  • Expanded staff to 3 full time positions


  • Extended our partnership with the Frederick Community Action Agency to employ homeless or formerly homeless members of the community for downtown clean up, including power washing sidewalks.
  • Planned for and piloted two “parklets” at locations on North Market Street to increase outdoor dining space in Downtown Frederick
  • Launched Halloween in Downtown Frederick event
  • Partnered with downtown businesses and installed dog waste bag receptacles throughout Downtown Frederick


  • Conducted first ever Business Performance Survey to quantifiably measure downtown’s economic health and key issues facing its retailers
  • The Partnership completed its second First Saturday attendee survey and learned that an average of 14,000 people attend First Saturday each month, resulting in $502,000 spent in Downtown Frederick each month during the event. This event represents an infusion of more than $6 million to the local economy
  • Rolled out the mobile event kiosk found along the street during any Partnership event to help direct visitors to businesses and activities taking place during First Saturday and other events
  • Expanded staff to 4 full time positions
  • Launched Movie Night on Carroll Creek in evenings throughout the summer


  • The Partnership celebrates its 25th Anniversary with a special breakfast, the launch of its 5 year Strategic Plan to welcome more people to live, work, play, stay and connect in Downtown Frederick
  • Competed nationally and was awarded a $25,000 grant to hold the Levitt AMP Frederick music series – free concerts offered on Tuesday evenings
  • Installed three dual-flow cans introducing the first recycling service to the public streetscape
  • Published the first ever Get It Downtown magazine, a publication featuring downtown businesses and business owners
  • Began holiday lights program for downtown business facades


  • The Partnership created Mission:Interior, a grant program to help business owners update the interior of their spaces
  • Launched a study to re-examine the U.S. Post Office and held two public input sessions and a public presentation related to the 4 acre site in Downtown Frederick. More than 75 residents, business representatives, City officials and others gathered to express their ideas for the future of the site (including the retention of the retail portion of the site)
  • Worked with the City of Frederick to achieve approval of a new sidewalk café ordinance, offering more street side eating at downtown restaurants
  • Installed new tree well rubber mulch to protect street trees and help improve pedestrian flow on sometimes tight sidewalks
  • Created a new video to promote Live Downtown, a strategic plan initiative to bring more residents to Downtown Frederick


  • Downtown Frederick Partnership held the first ever Live Downtown Frederick Housing Symposium to share the analysis and report created to learn more about the local housing market and what impediments and incentives exist
  • In partnership with the City of Frederick, created and launched to create a one-stop informational resource for parking in Downtown Frederick


  • The Partnership’s first public art mural, affectionately known as “Dino Alley,” was completed by local artist Goodloe Byron. In addition to the mural, the Partnership also funded the installation of string lighting in the alleyway between the parking garage and the back of multiple storefronts along N Market St
  • Received a grant to kick off a business plan for restarting a downtown circulator, as part of the City of Frederick’s transportation and parking study
  • The Partnership held its first ever placemaking competition, Pitchcraft
  • Participated in the City of Frederick’s site selection for the new Frederick Police Department Headquarters
  • The Partnership took over management and partial funding of the holiday lights program in the street trees from the City of Frederick


  • Purchased and installed cigarette butt receptacles on more than 40 trashcans which have  collected more than 100,000 cigarette butts from the streets of Downtown Frederick
  • Downtown Frederick Partnership led the advocacy effort for legislation that was adopted by the City of Frederick to allow live entertainment in restaurants and craft beverage businesses as of right (no permit and no fee required), removing barriers and costs to attracting more customers to Downtown Frederick businesses
  • The Partnership launched unchARTed, a design competition and installation
  • Launched a cup recycling pilot project during Alive @ Five


  • Downtown Frederick Partnership launched the organization’s strategic planning process for 2025
  • The Partnership installed bright window banners in vacant spaces undergoing business transitions to keep them lively and exciting and will continue to offer them as spaces change
  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Partnership launched the Small Business Resiliency Series, a three month long program offering webinars, professional business support, and peer networks. As part of the series, the Partnership also created a lending library with items like cameras, hand tools, business books, audio equipment and more, for our businesses to borrow to create and shoot or record content, create window displays, etc