Tuesday, April 14, 2009

East Baltimore: Streamlining the Gentrification

East Baltimore is having and has had a number of different gentrification projects over the years. They have been met with great success and will continue to as the years go by. One problem with East Baltimore is that these projects are a patchwork and don't spill out into the greater community leaving other parts of the community to continue to operate in shambles. What this post will do is identify what can be done fix this and unite East Baltimore as a Community with homes and businesses new and old all of which will thrive.

As I've stated previously, the disinvestment of East Baltimore can traced back to the down fall of its major employers; Bethlehem Steel, Canneries, Breweries, and Ship Yards. One constant anchor to the Community has been and will continue to be Johns Hopkins Hospital. However, it hasn't done much to curb the disinvestment of its surroundings until very recently.
East Baltimore has played host to several Public Housing Developments over the years some of which still exist while others have been demolished. This has resulted in the patch work of gentrification and blight I discussed earlier because the public housing developments were located right next to each other rather than spread out. The first development to hit the wrecking ball was Lafayette Courts, a high rise development that was replaced with the town home and low rise senior building known as Pleasant View Gardens.
Pleasant View Gardens (PVG) was met with mostly positive reviews but not having enough of an income mix is posing problems.
That's why when Broadway Homes (southeast of PVG) and Flag House Courts (a few blocks south of PVG) were redeveloped their finished products; Broadway Overlook andAlbemarle Square respectively contained a much broader income mix and have become the bench mark for mixed income communities.
Broadway Overlook's average median income has sky rocketed since its 2004 completion it also incorporated the recently shuttered Church Hospital in the form of mid rise apartments and a community focal point.
In the immediate vicinity of these new developments lie several old and blighted developments which have not benefited from the redevelopment of their neighbors. Some will be demolished while others may be demolished. If it's not a sure thing there is at least talk of doing so. Somerset Homes is emptied out and ready for demolition.
It is directly north of PVG, East of Forest St. Apartments, and west of three Schools; Paul Laurence Dunbar High, Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle, and Thomas G. Hayes Elementary. Thomas G. Hayes Elementary has closed, Dunbar High's Athletic Fields are northwest of the School and the School itself is under capacity.When redeveloping Somerset Homes all these factors need to taken into consideration. In my School Facilities Update post, Dunbar High will receive a massive renovation and redistricting to bring it back up to full capacity. Its athletic fields will go on the roof to save space. Thomas G. Hayes Elementary will close and Dunbar Middle will close (in my plan). In my plan Forest St. Apartments will be demolished with Somerset Homes as will Thomas G. Hayes Elementary and Dunbar Middle. They will all be part of a new high density development of market rate apartments and condos with underground parking and ground floor retail known as "Hopkins Pointe." The current Dunbar Athletic Fields will be cut in half be letting Aisquith St. run through it. One side will be a public square known as "Oldtown Square" and the other will be a Dog Park.

Speaking of Oldtown, no conversation about East Baltimore will complete with bringing up Oldtown Mall. Oldtown Mall, is a desolate Outdoor Pedestrian Mall where Gay St. used to run. If the buildings aren't in danger of collapsing, we can save them and back fill them with businesses that will serve the tremendous population growth from its surroundings. Gay St. will reopen to cars. If not, they will have to be demolished and the city will lose yet another Historic Site due to neglect. West of Oldtown lies acres of surface parking lots in an area known as Penn Fallsway. With Downtown literally across the street from here I can't fathom how this hasn't been developed. Well, it's time we demolished the JFX and extended Downtown into these parking lots and ultimately connected Downtown to Hopkins. The network of streets will have to be reworked to achieve maximum density and the best traffic flow. This will be mixed use residential, office, hotel, and retail all with underground parking. This development will be called "Jones Falls Overlook." Other elements here will be a Farmer's Market that currently operates under the JFX and a Homeless Shelter because there are many homeless camps under the JFX.

Now for perhaps the most pivotal development in streamlining East Baltimore; Douglass Homes. Strategically located at the intersection of Broadway, Fayette, and Orleans Streets it ties all the new development. Think about it, every development I've discussed and will discuss borders Douglass Homes in some way.
Pleasant View Gardens (PVG)is to the west, Somerset Homes is to the northwest, The Dunbar High Campus to the north, Johns Hopkins Hospital to the northeast, Broadway Overlook to the south, and the Gateway at Washington Hill to the east. To be in scale with the developments already in place it will feature mostly two to three story town homes some with garages and/or basements some with neither. Also on Central Avenue will be a low rise Public Housing Senior Building that mirrors the one in PVG directly across the street.
One project of note near Douglass Homes is the new Enoch Pratt Free Library.
The old Charles Carroll of Carollton Elementary is located on the PVG side of Central Avenue but its redevelopment will be part of the new Douglass Homes.
The new development, will be "The Villages at Central Avenue."
Central Avenue will receive a complete makeover from Fayette St. to the Inner Harbor with streetscape enhancements including landscaped medians, brick crosswalks, bike lanes, new sidewalks with tree plantings, new sheltered bus stops, updated traffic signals, and new "count down" pedestrian signals.The previous paragraph discussed a few things where I haven't gone into full detail, allow me to do so now. First there's Johns Hopkins Hospital, the fact that it's Baltimore's largest employer has done very little for its surrounding communities, until now.
The East Baltimore Development Iniative (EBDI) is turning the neighborhood north of Hopkins (Middle East) into a Biotech Park and 1200-1500 units of new and rehabbed mixed income housing. EBDI is also looking to redevelop a couple of neighborhoods east of Hopkins known as Milton Montford and Madison Eastend.
Other neighborhoods east of Hopkins such as Patterson Park, McElderry Park, Ellwood Park/Monument, and Library Square are gentrifying on their own.
People are finding cheap boarded up homes that haven't sat vacant for very long and are gutting and rehabbing them without much outside help.
The Gateway at Washington Hill is a proposed mixed use residential, retail, office development just south of Hopkins on three vacant blocks; Baltimore St. on the south Wolfe St. on the west, Orleans St. on the north, and Washington St. on the east.
The last development to be demolished will be Perkins Homes. Like Douglass Homes, it's a vital link between redeveloped and gentrified areas of the city.
It sits in between Little Italy, Albemarle Square, Inner Harbor East, and Fels Point. Included in its demolition will be the two schools located directly north of Perkins Homes. They are; Lombard Middle which is slated to close after this school year anyway, and City Springs Elementary. As part of my plan to rebuild schools and reduce excess classroom space City Springs will be combined with other local Elementary Schools to build a brand new school.
The last cluster of East Baltimore neighborhoods I will discuss lie north of Biddle St. and South of North Avenue. They are; Berea, Broadway East, and Oliver. I don't see them benefiting much from all the new development in East Baltimore. However, I do see them benefiting from all the transit lines slated to be built. The Green Line Extension from Hopkins to meet the Purple Line which runs on the MARC tracks will turn Broadway East and Oliver into TOD districts instantly. Berea, will be a stop on the Purple Line with MARC stops at Orangeville and Penn Station within a 10 minute ride. Orangeville, an old industrial neighborhood and a preferred site for East Baltimore's MARC Station will instantly be transformed into upscale mixed use residential, retail, office, and perhaps a Boutique Hotel.
Now to effectively streamline all these new development projects one must keep in mind that there are still some old vacancies. Most of these lie in Historic Jonestown and Washington Hill. They can offered by the as $1 row homes providing the buyer rehabs the house to its former glory. If it's something bigger than a row home like an old office or industrial building it can be bought for $100 and converted into something like loft apartments. There are some beautiful vacant buildings in these areas and it would be a shame to see them hit the wrecking ball.
Now that I've streamlined the gentrification of most of East Baltimore (I purposely left some things out for a different post) all the neighborhoods can reunite with one another, after all, that's what this post was all about.


Toure Zeigler said...

Great Pics, nice post

Spence Lean said...

Thanks, I still have to take a few more pics for this post. I need some of Central Avenue, Hopkins,Perkins Homes, and Broadway Overlook. Nothing that a ride on the Subway and nice hike around East Baltimore can't take care of.

Olive Tree said...

Hi, it's a very great blog.
I could tell how much efforts you've taken on it.
Keep doing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info Spence. What would you tell someone who is thinking of buying a fixer upper on North Caroline Street, south of Fayette. Is it worth the investment? From what I've read, this is what you would like to see, but where can I get information on what will really be planned in the area.

Spence Lean said...

North Caroline St. would be a great place to rehab a house. With all the Hopkins gentrification the area is really taking off. However, don't expect to see a return on your investment right away. Our economy is in shambles so "flipping" the house would not be a good idea but as far as making it home, let me welcome you to East Baltimore! Best of luck on your rehab!

SUPREME said...

Sure ... looks great on paper .... its like watching paint dry.. i'am really tired of GENTRI FRIED CHICKEN
... I hope to sell my house and move to the burbs ... Hopkins master plan
has def' destroyed this part of the city ... along with the many social ills created.

Spence Lean said...

It does look great on paper. Sadly, the real estate market is not taking chances right now with East Baltimore due to our bad economy. I think if our economy had remained strong, a lot more progess would have already been made.

Anonymous said...

I was born in Church, Home, and the same room that Edgar Allan Poe died in when it was known as Washington Hospital....

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