Thursday, July 17, 2008
Coldstream Homestead Montebello Redevelopment
In the Lower Montebello section of the neighborhood vacant and blighted row homes were demolished to make way for...........???? Well nobody knows for sure exactly what the city has in mind to redevelop sites where demolition has occurred. In fact I don't think the city itself knows it's just bulldozing acres of houses that have gone to the dogs. This has been done in O'Donnell Heights, Mount Winans Homes, Westport Homes Extension, and a section of Cherry Hill Homes. Somerset Homes has been vacated and the wrecking ball is not far behind. There is talk of doing the same thing with Perkins Homes, Latrobe Homes, Gilmor Homes, and Douglass Homes. Now back to Coldstream Homestead Montebello. It was once located on the successful Baltimore Belt Line (now CSX) so its southern section (Coldstream) has a lot of industry although it's ghost of its former self. Much of the residential neighborhood in fact almost all of it was built on former estate land. The Homestead section was deemed Baltimore's first "Suburban Row House Village" although I consider any development outside of the first three that made up Baltimoretown to be suburbs in their time.
With much of its housing stock eligible for historic designation it will make a hurdle for redevelopment efforts. On the flip side much of the housing stock even well preserved homes are very outdated making reoccupying and keeping current residents a shot in the dark. There has been massive population loss especially in the lower Montebello section of the neighborhood where demolition has begun. Not only are the physical structures outdated and blighted but the infrastructure is outdated as well. Allys are unkempt, streets need paving, sidewalks need to be resurfaced, and there is little lighting creating an unsafe environment for crime of all sorts which Coldstream Homestead Montebello suffers from. Retail is very lack luster and is ready for a new mix of retail elements. The answer is clear; redevelopment.
Redevelopment is a welcome addition to this neighborhood but even more important than that would be giving it an identity. Including it on Baltimore history tours whether it be walking or bus tours would be a start. Baltimore City College one of the nations oldest public schools, Historic Homestead Village, and the fact that much of the community was built on the estate of Johns Hopkins would make the neighborhood noticeable to outsiders and make it less generic, something the neighborhood suffers from and will hold back redevelopment efforts. Historic markers and plaques and directional signs like those Downtown would be a welcome addition. The eastern end of the neighborhood is Harford Road which in my tweaked version of the 2002 Regional Rail Plan the Green Line would run under allowing new development to be TOD. Another way to promote the neighborhood through Clifton Park by hosting neighborhood cookouts and luring golf events there. Lake Clifton would be restored once again and the school torn down.
Now the nitty gritty redevelopment, first to go would be any remnants of industry in the neighborhood's southern edge. The CSX Line would be tunneled restoring connections to the revitalized East Baltimore Midway (this plan would occur after the East Baltimore Midway Plan) in its place would be low to mid rise condos that take advantage of the breathtaking views of Clifton Park and Lake Montebello. The existing housing stock in Coldstream varies when possible land will be assembled for redevelopment. This new development would be modern town homes while at the same time having them fit in with the existing architecture. There are parts of the Coldstream section where rehabbing is a better solution low interest loans will be available for those willing to take that on. Homestead will be preserved and marketed as the city's first suburban row house village however, there are vacant lots located in homestead so there will be new development but nothing further will be torn down. The section of known as lower Montebello will be completely torn down which I think the city's going to do anyway. In its place will be more town homes that are 21st century ready. All buildings on Harford Road will be torn down and more upscale retail with housing above will go in its place. All roads and sidewalks will be resurfaced, upgraded and additional lighting, a community center, a day care center, and streetscape enhancements will round out the infrastructure improvements.Not only will Coldstream Homestead Montebello have a new housing stock with better retail but it will have an identity.