Baltimore Has Lost Two Major Figures in Downtown Real Estate, Redevelopment

Two major figures in Baltimore’s development history have died in recent months. David Kornblatt and Al Copp both had a significant impact on the development of Baltimore’s downtown and the adjoining areas of the waterfront now known as the Inner Harbor. 

David Kornblatt had a distinguished career in real estate spanning six decades. He died in December, 2016 at age 89.  After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard in the mid-1940s, he earned a business degree at the University of Maryland, College Park. 

Starting as a real estate broker in Baltimore’s row house neighborhoods, he eventually set his focus on the commercial core of the city’s downtown which had begun substantial redevelopment in the 1960’s. In 1963, he established his commercial real estate firm, now known as the Kornblatt Company. More than 40 years ago, he had success in locating office tenants for some of the most prominent structures in the new Inner Harbor.   

Later he became a developer of major office buildings, including St. Paul Plaza, a 280,000-square foot structure over a 900-car garage. Mr. Kornblatt had the building’s 22nd floor turned into a conference and meeting center.  Among his many other civic and professional affiliations, David had become a member of our Lambda Alpha chapter and made the meeting space available to the chapter on several occasions.  The 50th anniversary of the Kornblatt Company was celebrated in 2014, with many of David’s business associates, public officials and friends in attendance. In honor of David’s many accomplishments, then Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had the 200-block of St. Paul Place named David Kornblatt Way. 

His survivors include his wife of over 65 years, Barbara Kornblatt, the founder of a downtown Baltimore art gallery. 

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Al Copp died in January, 2017 at age 82 at his home in Baltimore.  In its obituary, the Baltimore Sun described Al as “an unassuming planner who shepherded redevelopment of the Inner Harbor, shaping a waterfront of abandoned warehouses and rotting piers into Baltimore’s showpiece.” 

Graduating with bachelor and master’s degrees from Syracuse University, Mr. Copp began his career working for the planning department in the city of Syracuse.  After a brief period with the old U. S. Urban Renewal Administration in Washington, DC, he arrived in Baltimore in 1961. He worked for the Charles Center-Inner Harbor Management, Inc., established by the city to redevelop the core of Baltimore’s commercial district as well as the nearby waterfront. Al rose through the ranks, becoming executive vice president in 1979 and serving as president from 1984 to 1990.  The work in Baltimore became a model for waterfront cities worldwide.  Al used the experience gained to advise other cities regarding waterfront redevelopment, including Philadelphia, Pensacola, FL and San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

In the late-1960s, Al began developing another interest: home winemaking.  This avocation eventually became a second career. By the mid-1980s he had co-founded Woodhall Wine Cellars in northern Baltimore County, a new source of fine wines for the region. 

While Al never became a member of Lambda Alpha, he and his wife, Laurie Schwartz, contributed to the Baltimore chapter in a number of ways over the years.  Ms. Schwartz, a former Baltimore deputy mayor of economic and neighborhood development and current president of the Waterfront Partnership, was one of our chapter’s early annual dinner speakers. A particularly notable occasion came in April 2000, when LAI’s Board of Governors met in Baltimore (in an event that has morphed into the Land Economics Weekend). At the end of a long day of touring various city neighborhoods, Al and Laurie opened their Roland Park home to visitors from across the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom for a delightful wine tasting. Woodhall wines have also been a welcome feature of our chapter’s summer outings in recent years. 

The Baltimore chapter of LAI extends it condolences to the families and friends of David Kornblatt and Al Copp. 

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