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Saturday, April 28, 2007

State Center Redevelopment: Why Isn't This Front and Center Stage?

Did you know that since early 2005 that there has been a massive proposal to redevelop and revitalize a sizable chunk of Baltimore's Midtown? Yup that's right and it's not Station North or Charles Center either. It's the sprawling State Center Office complex and McCulloh Homes public housing centered around the intersection of Howard Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard with Eutaw Street running through it. Now an alert Baltimore Scholar like myself need not look far to find such a big, important exciting story like this right? Wrong I googled some Baltimore neighborhood whose name escapes me at the moment and some where way down the line was the link to a site called "sky scraper city.com", which is essentially a message board about large cities and in Baltimore's thread was a link to a draft master plan to redevelop the State Center site into high density, mixed use, transit oriented development. I was floored! I couldn't believe I hadn't heard of this before! No newspaper articles, no TV news reports, no nothing. I was and still am wondering Why this isn't front and center stage?I have found zero history on the site that the State Center, its sprawling parking lot and McCulloh Homes sit on but I can make an educated guess. The buildings came to fruition some time in the 1950s or 1960s as the personal automobile dominated transportation, the flight to the suburbs, and the interstate building frenzy began. The State Center is located in between Bolton Hill, Seton Hill, Upton, and Mount Vernon, four neighborhoods with beautiful stately row homes but they may as well be a million miles away. Bolton Hill and Mount Vernon have been able to whether the storm of urban decay that the last half of the 20th century brought. Seton Hill is benefiting from the revitalization of Downtown's Westside. Upton has not been so lucky however. Once the city's premier center for African American history and culture the neighborhood's story mimics that of many urban slums. As white citizens moved to the suburbs the homes they abandoned in neighborhoods like Edmondson Village and Park Heights were bought by more well to do African Americans leaving neighborhoods like Upton to rot thanks in no small part to the drug trade, Murphy Homes, and I-170. Today's Upton is a hopeful one, Murphy Homes have come down being replaced by Heritage Crossing and the city has come up with a master plan to revitalize Upton. They didn't even factor in the State Center Redevelopment when the master plan was created! The State Center redevelopment plan does not discuss the revitalization of Pennsylvania Avenue, Upton's entertainment and shopping district. State Center will have positive effects on this ailing thoroughfare.
Back to the State Center redevelopment. What the proposal is is for a mixed use, mixed income, high density residential, commercial, cultural, and recreational development on the grounds of the State Center and McCulloh Homes. This location was chosen because it would be transit oriented development. It is close to both the existing blue and green lines of the rail system and the proposed red line. The new development is slated to be called the "Eutaw District" since Eutaw Place runs through the development it is only logical to give it this name. In addition to aiding the afore mentioned neighborhoods it will aide in further reinvestment in Downtown's Westside. Currently the southern portion of the Westside has been the focus of the renewal effort and the northern end has remained rather quiet. With the new Eutaw District the northern portion of Downtown's Westside will surely get more attention. I have even bigger hopes for the neighborhoods surrounding the Euataw District. I would like the renewal to go all the way to Druid Heights and cross North Avenue into Reservoir Hill and Penn North. That's a long shot but seeing how the Inner Harbor gentrification has gone above Patterson Park it's not impossible.
As for the original question I posed of why the State Center redevelopment isn't front and center stage goes, after doing some more digging I've found plenty stuff as far as articles go. I think I was too air headed to take notice of it. It still hasn't gotten the news coverage I think it deserves and why that is is anybody's guess.

4 comments:

Spence said...

Just a little update the size of the State Center project is being greatly reduced becuse McCulloh Homes won't be a part of it. Redevelopment of this aging public housing development is cruicial for the success of State Center and Northwest Baltimore as a whole. Plans for the former I-170 may be in Jeopardy because of this as well.

Cefozyt said...

ust a little update the size of the State Center project is being greatly reduced becuse McCulloh Homes won't be a part of it. Redevelopment of this aging public housing development is cruicial for the success of State Center and Northwest Baltimore as a whole. Plans for the former I-170 may be in Jeopardy because of this as well.

free mobile recharge said...

Just a little update the size of the State Center project is being greatly reduced becuse McCulloh Homes won't be a part of it. Redevelopment of this aging public housing development is cruicial for the success of State Center and Northwest Baltimore as a whole. Plans for the former I-170 may be in Jeopardy because of this as well.

menext said...

Its awesome

Thanks for sharing