Thursday, November 13, 2008

Canton: Maritime Overlay and Mixed Use Development Living In Harmony

Let me make one thing clear before I begin this post, I don't want to kick out thriving industrial businesses and redevelop the land they sit on. I support the Maritime Overlay District but within it there is vacant land that probably won't attract additional industrial uses.
It's no secret that Baltimore's famed Inner Harbor was once an industrial port. In fact of you look closely enough in certain areas you can still see evidence that proves this. The Middle Branch is following this model of taking vacant and under utilized industrial land in Westport and Fairfield.

The most recent complete makeover was Inner Harbor East, Locust Point is in the process of having old industrial land redeveloped into mixed use (Tide Point and Silo Point), and soon to come is Harbor Point on the Western edge of the Fels Point and that's it, the Inner Harbor's built out right? Wrong!
Now there are two Cantons, there's the neighborhood of Canton which is almost built out but then there's the Canton Industrial Area which has lots of land available for redevelopment. With better economic circumstances would developers have been savvy enough to venture here? Well I guess we'll find out once the economy turns around and the housing market is privy to risk takers.Now when looks at the Canton Industrial Area today he or she may be perplexed by why this would be good land for high density mixed development. After all, there are CSX lines running throughout and I-895 cutting through it. Well, my last two posts discuss these issues one talks about the MTA, Amtrak, and CSX lines tunneling their above ground lines and in the other it discusses the elimination of I-895 north of the Harbor Tunnel and funneling its traffic onto I-95 right then and there rather than at the city/county line.
Ok, that frees up some land but not all of it, and didn't I say at the beginning of this post that I didn't want to disrupt the Maritime Overlay District and kick out industrial uses that are working well? Yes I did, although there are thriving industries in the Canton Industrial Area there is lots of vacant and under utilized land as well even with I-895 and the CSX lines in existence. Some industrial businesses that are still successful have had to make massive lay offs over the past 50 years due to workers being replaced by machines and computers yet their parking lots remain large enough to accommodate a much larger work force that just sit there. Would these businesses be interested in selling off their now over sized parking lots to put a little extra coin in their pocket? Sounds reasonable to me
I'm getting a little ahead of my self here, our economy is in no shape for what I'm proposing but, the tunneling of the CSX lines and the demolition of I-895 might be better for the short term to free up even more land for when the market becomes favorable for building of any kind.
Now comes the question of mixing industrial uses with upscale residential, retail, hotel, and offices. The gentrification of all neighborhoods around the Harbor have done it from Fels Point to South Baltimore to Locust Point to Inner Harbor East and even the neighborhood of Canton. The Middle Branch neighborhoods of Westport, Brooklyn, and Curtis Bay will be rebuilt under the same formula. Further away from the harbor once the Red Line is built there will be TOD in Orangeville where the East Baltimore MARC Station is proposed. Like Canton Orangeville is a mix of thriving and dead industry and the dead land will be redeveloped.
Redveloping Industrial Canton, it's almost too easy it's been proven time and time again in Baltimore that Maritime Overlay and Mixed Use Devlelopment can live in Harmony.


Gary said...

I would love to see some of this vacant land converted to better use. Hopefully Ed Hale decides to move forward with the rest of Canton Crossing.

It's also worth pointing out that a lot of other cities have strong desireable neighborhoods that contain a decent industrial presence. I think Baltimore has just gotten used to associating industry with blight, since that was for a long time the case here.

Spence Lean said...

Despite the economy Ed Hale is moving full speed ahead with Canton Crossing in fact he'd like to expand it with more retail, he envsions a Target and a Harris Teeter as part of this expansion. I'm hoping as Brewers Hill and Locust Point make their come backs a lot of old industrial buildings are reused. I think Tide Point and Silo Point are perfect examples.

Spence Lean said...

Undeveloped Parcels of land in Canton Crossing are going into receivership. Ed Hale appears to have bitten off more than he chew in this bitter economy.