Monday, November 24, 2008

Greater Rosemont:Remnants of Industry

First off let me be clear of the Boundaries of what I call "Greater Rosemont" North Avenue to the north, Monroe St. to the east, Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park to the West and Route 40/Franklin St. to the south.The 11 neighborhoods that make up this cluster were and still are a victim of suburban flight. It's almost as if no one has touched them since the 1970s and have been left there to rot. The questions one must ask themselves when confronted with a chunk of the city that needs so much attention is why and how? I can think of a big reason; Industry right smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood cluster are industrial ruins that had they not been present during the neighborhoods' initial decline would have stemmed the tide of urban decay.

What baffles me about this industrial anomaly is that it was built in the early 20th as were the residences that surround it. As early as World War I the push for suburban flight for the middle class was on and Greater Rosemont was west Baltimore's response. One thing the suburban dream promised was cleaner air and green lawns, something that's hard to come by when you live near an industrial area. The decentralization of jobs component of Suburbia didn't take effect until after World War II some 35 odd years later. By that time, the industrial revolution was over and the number of industrial jobs was diminishing and plants were not expanding.

This left Greater Rosemont flawed in its suburban appeal and vulnerable to blockbusting. From 1945-1955 the cluster had changed from all white to all black. In 1968 the MLK riots destroyed streets that bordered the clusters of neighborhoods (Edmondson Avenue, North Avenue, and Monroe St.) Neither the bordering streets or the neighborhoods that lie within them have recovered.Well now it's time these neighborhoods see some large scale recovery. Grassroots efforts done by a few of the neighborhoods have had a small positive effect but there hasn't been any large intervention. The most successful gentrification stories have the same beginning middle and end. It's a troubled area that borders on a neighborhood that just saw gentrification and the troubled neighborhood trys to capitalize on it. This has been a proven strategy in Baltimore and Cities across the Country. Unfortunately in the case of Greater Rosemont there aren't any neighborhoods nearby that are draws for it to latch onto. Greater Rosemont has to gentrify itself from within, a much more challenging method of gentrification but that's all we have to work with at the present time. There maybe some hope with the Fulton Avenue streetscape enhancements and the West Baltimore MARC Redevelopment on the eastern and southern borders respectively.The method I'm using is redeveloping the industrial wasteland that pollutes the middle of the neighborhood cluster. Sound crazy? Well it is but that's what they said to the developers of Charles Center, Harbor Place, and Silo Point. There is one untapped resource in the treasure chest of gentrification in Greater Rosemont and that is the Amtrak and MARC lines that run right through the industrial wasteland. As part of the Baltimore Regional Rail Plan there are two lines the Orange and the Purple which will share the right of way with MARC and Amtrak. The idea behind them was to localize those lines and help the neighborhoods they run through. The purple line is the line that runs through Greater Rosemont. The Rail Plan doesn't include a stop in Greater Rosemont for the purple line but I will include one instantly making it eligible for TOD. Both the MARC lines and the CSX lines that run through Greater Rosemont will be tunneled allowing more land to become available.
The new development will be high density apartments and condos in the mid market range with ground floor retail that will serve the community that already exists and the new community that will come into existence. Currently Greater Rosemont has very little retail. It was spread out through corner stores but those have mostly closed further contributing to the feeling of abandonment. The existing community will see some redevelopment depending on the block. Some blocks are in great shape while others are plagued with vacant boarded up homes and still others have been demolished awaiting redevelopment.
Greater Rosemont may have remnants of industry now but through unconventional methods of gentrification they will be a thing of the past.


Spence Lean said...

A victory for the Rosemont Community! The vacant and blighted Mosher Courts Apartment Complex has torn down. Mosher Courts is the product of a slum lord whose portfolio included Pall Mall Apartments in Park Heights which also hit the wrecking ball.

Unknown said...

Hello Spence, I thank your for the good information on Greater Rosemont. I leave you a memory:
My mother Shirley Mae Fisher, better none as Ms. Fisher is the Founder of Rosemont HomeOwners Association Inc. The Rose of Rosemont was her mother who's real name is Rose Brown.I will be publishing a ebook on my mother soon. Stay in touch for the release @

Marty G. Fisher Sr.