Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Harford Road: Going Green

The latest hype regarding new building is to make everything "Green" and LEED Certified. I agree this is the correct way to build anything and everything but in this post I will use the term "Green" in a whole new way. Harford Road has become a Main St. Village but the density is low. So when I say "Green" I mean the Green Line. So in order to keep the Green Line Extension in the conversation, It's time that Harford Road went Green.
From the onset of development in the Harford Road area, it was meant to be an auto oriented suburb. Granted, a streetcar line did run down Harford Road but the time for streetcars was running out back then. As Lauraville, Hamilton, Waltherson, and Woodhome Heights were built, the flight to the suburbs was on. Mostly Single Family Homes and Duplexes were built and a few Garden Apartment Complexes are what constituted the suburbs of Northeast Baltimore.
Harford Road was and is the Neighborhood Retail Drag for the Communities it served. Today more than ever, residents living near Harford Road use their cars to shop at the new Safeway and eat at the new Restaurants that are popping up throughout the corridor. With Belair Road, a lot of its Retail was Car Dealerships that have closed so TOD Redevelopment along there will be a lot easier for several reasons.
On the other hand, Harford Road caters more to its immediate Communities than Belair Road does. In East Baltimore, where services that readily are available in Northeast Baltimore aren't for East Baltimore, residents use buses to travel up to Harford Road for the better selection of Retail Options.
Since the density of Harford Road isn't there to support the Green Line the best thing to do is to bring it there. There is a density gap between Morgan State and White Marsh which both need the Green Line but it won't be feasible because of the low denisty of Harford Road and Belair Road won't make extending the Green Line to White Marsh feasible because it will have low "rider catch" areas in Northeast Baltimore.
It's ironic that the suburb of White Marsh is of a higher density than the Lauraville/Hamilton area in the City. White Marsh however, is a new and growing Community that was designated as a high denisty development zone by the County. Harford Road was built at a time when City's Population was draining and new development was catering to the suburban flight.
Harford Road is a great area but urbanization would great to bring Rail Transit there for both current residents looking to save gas, and future residents who would move into new housing from new TOD I'm seeking to have built.
It will be a phased transition but an easy one. Vacant storefronts will be demolished to make way for Apartment/Condo Buildings with ground floor Retail. The Retail, will be existing businesses that make for old vacant storefronts that will then be dmolished until Harford Road has made its transistion into a TOD Village. The new Buildings, in addition to ground floor Retail will be about four or five stories high and the second floor of some of them will house Offices. Garden Apartment Complexes throughout the Community will also be redeveloped.
If Harford Road and Belair Road, the Main Streets of Northeast Baltimore don't have the TOD and density to support the Green Line, we'll have to bring it there, and bring it we will

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