Seven Black-owned businesses have been selected to open at Harborplace as temporary tenants while MCB Real Estate pursues its controversial plans to raze and redevelop the waterfront retail pavilions.

The businesses will operate under two-year license agreements through a Downtown Partnership of Baltimore incubator program designed to accelerate growth of local and minority entrepreneurs by exposing them to new customers.

The businesses are expected to help re-energize the mostly vacant pavilions in time for the  summer tourism season, said Shelonda Stokes, Downtown Partnership president.

MCB Real Estate, owner of the retail center, has proposed demolishing the twin 43-year-old shopping and dining pavilions that for decades have symbolized the Inner Harbor attraction and replacing them with four taller, mixed-use buildings. Those include a conjoined tower with around 900 apartments, several smaller buildings, a large new park, a two-tier promenade and realigned roadways.

The Baltimore City Council voted in March in favor of land use bills requested by MCB to amend zoning law and the city’s urban renewal plan.

Businesses moving into the Light Street Pavilion include Cuples Tea, a loose-leaf tea shop with an original location on North Howard Street; Milton’s Daughters, a shop selling waist beads, crystals, herbs and spiritual tools; Pandora’s Box, a jewelry, gifts, home decor and accessories retailer; Storybook Maze, a literacy community outreach movement; and
Yele Stitches, an African luxury brand of custom and handmade dresses and bridal gowns.

MoreLife Organic Juice, a family-run organic juice and herbal tea company; and Motion Athletics, an athletic brand with a fashion focus, will open in the Pratt Street Pavilion.

Owners participating in the Downtown BOOST Harborplace Local Tenancy Program will start storefront buildouts this month. They can use up to $25,000 in grants to build out the physical space and also will receive technical, legal, marketing, zoning and accounting services.

P. David Bramble, MCB’s managing partner, called Harborplace “the beating heart of Baltimore — bringing together people from all walks of life to recreate, shop and enjoy our city’s extraordinary waterfront.”

“We are proud to provide space and funding for these home-grown businesses and hope all of Baltimore will support these amazing entrepreneurs,” Bramble said in an announcement.

MCB has faced criticism for a redevelopment plan that would lift height restrictions and add commercial and residential density in an area designated as public parkland. A voter referendum on the land use package will be on November’s ballot.