Bad News for Downtown Baltimore: NEA Moves Out, Citing Needles, Used Condoms and “Psychotic Homeless People”

In a letter published today by the Baltimore Sun, the general counsel for New Enterprise Associates tells Baltimore mayor Sheila Dixon why the venture capital firm is abandoning its headquarters of nearly 30 years for the northern Baltimore suburb of Timonium.

After reading the letter, I’m wondering how in the world the Baltimore-based partners of NEA — which also has offices on sunny, safe Sand Hill Road, in Chevy Chase, Md., and in Asia — have managed to stick it out this long.

Dear Mayor Dixon,
My name is Louis Citron and I am the General Counsel at New Enterprise Associates.  We are a venture capital firm located at 1119 St. Paul Street and have been located in the mid town/Belvedere hotel area for nearly 30 years.  We have approximately 35 employees located at this office.  I also live in Roland Park.
We would like you to know that New Enterprise Associates has decided to move its Baltimore city office to Timonium.  We calculated that our decision will cost the merchants in this neighborhood at least $200,000 per year in revenue as we are terminating, among others, our cleaning service and security guard, and will no longer be paying for parking spaces in the local garages, and no longer buying our lunches from local restaurants and the Maryland Club.
Our decision was a result of the high level of crime in our neighborhood.  Over the last several years, many of our cars have been broken into resulting in very expensive repairs, our employees have been robbed at gun point, drug needles and used condoms have been left on our front stoop, and psychotic homeless people have menaced our employees and threatened to kill them.  We have voiced our frustrations to the local community leaders and police, but the environment has only worsened.  The recent local beatings by roving teenagers during the day in this neighborhood, the raucous club in the basement of the Belvedere, and other gang violence throughout the city reinforces the appropriateness of New Enterprise Associates’ decision to move in order to protect its employees.
At this point, our decision is set in motion and cannot be reversed.  However, we sincerely hope that you and the city council are able to rectify these problems as we are certain other businesses also will leave the city over time.  Further, now that I no longer work in the city, I might move my family out of the city too if violence and crime continue to increase in the Roland Park area.  I pay too much in taxes now to live in fear and to have sewer lines back up on a regular basis into my home.
We wish you and the city only the best of luck in addressing these issues and hope that you are successful.  It is in no one’s interest to see Baltimore be viewed by the nation as a crime ridden and violent city that is totally out of control.
I would be happy to further discuss at your convenience.

Too bad for Baltimore, a beautiful city that’s become ravaged by so much crime that it’s now ranked the most murderous large city in the country, an ignominious ranking it might shed only owing to the honesty — or else insanity — of the Detroit police. Indeed, in what may be a first, a police department spokesman announced that last week, the FBI underreported the number of people killed in Motor City last year.

If the FBI acknowledges the difference of 33 victims, Detroit will reclaim its title as the most homicidal city with more than 500,000 residents; Baltimore will fall to second place.