Wednesday, January 26, 2011
A Pimlico that Works For Everyone All the Time
Pimlico has been the subject of intense debate over the past several years and nothing has been resolved. The long time Baltimore Landmark that hosts the Preakness is as always in financial trouble and constantly changing Owners won't turn Pimlico into a money maker. The Park Heights Master Plan has offered a few options regarding Pimlico's future. There's one that leaves the Race Course as is and another that involves redevelopment of the Parking Lots and the Race Course as Mixed Use Office Retail and Residential. Neither plan satisfies 100% yet at the same time, Neither plan 100% dissatisfies me. It's time to get ultra creative and turn Pimlico into a year round Money Maker for all ages.
The woes of Pimlico are no surprise, not only is it grossly under utilized but Horse Racing has been dying a slow death for decades now. A good way that's helped the owners supplement income and generate revenue for the City has been using the Race Course as a venue for all day concert events such as Virgin Fest. Although they have breathed new into Pimlico for duration of the event it has failed to restore Pimlico as a busy year round attraction. This begs the question of slots operating in Pimlico, I will discuss that later in this post.
Allow me to side track you for a quick second. This will tie into Pimlico I promise. The Gym in Beverly Hills High School has a floor that splits in two to make way for a swimming pool underneath. The "Swim Gym" located here is perhaps the only one of its kind. This allows the Gym to serve multi purposes without wasted space. What does this have this have to do with Pimlico? Upon learning of this technology used in Beverly Hills High I had an epiphany. Why can't the Race Track in Pimlico part using this same technology? After all the Beverly Hills Swim Gym albeit much smaller than the Pimlico Race Track was built in the 1930s as a New Deal Project so I'm sure that technology can be used for a peice of land as large as Pimlico. If the Beverly Hills Swim Gym was a New Deal project maybe the Pimlico Project can get funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; the 21st Century New Deal. Of course this would be very expensive but you have to spend money to make money right? So, in short my plan is turn Pimlico into a Swimming Pool. Only it will be more than just a pool. It would be by far the largest in the City complete with water slides, a wave pool, hot tubs, a volley ball court, and lots of water park "mushrooms."
The Pool will be open from dawn to dusk seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day which is the normal annual time span in this region for an Outdoor Pool. If an outdoor concert wishes to use Pimlico the Pool would be closed. Now I want to see Pimlico as a year round venue and an Outdoor Swimming Pool can only fit the bill for summer months. Now riddle me this; What happens to water when it freezes? Ice! So, from November to mid March Pimlico will serve as an Ice Rink for recreational Ice Skating and perhaps an Ice Hockey League.
Now this begs the question of money. I will answer said question regarding money. The renovation of Pimlico will be financed by any number of grants by both public and private entities. The City will then lease Pimlico from its owners and will share the cost of maintenance. Admission will be free. The revenue generator will come in the form of concessions. Local eateries in the surrounding Neighborhood can operate kiosk stands inside Pimlico.
Now I said that I will discuss slots and I've decided to keep that promise. Slots are bascially an unavoidable force and the only way to save Pimlico would be to let slots operate there. When the swimming pool closes for the night, the Slots Parlor will open. The same M.O. will be in effect during the Ice Rink months. There's still that period of time between mid March and Memorial Day, well that's Horse Racing Season! As long as Horse Racing is up and running Pimlico will serve as its primary function; a Race Track. The Preakness will always have a home at Pimlico as well.
Earlier I talked about options in the Park Heights Master Plan and my satisfaction or lack there of regarding its options for Pimlico. Redevelopment was discussed but that involved the demolition of Pimlico, at least in the Master Plan. With Pimlico alive and better than ever in my plan its acres of surface parking remain desolate. As part of Pimlico's renovation undergound parking will be put under the track. The mixed use development discussed in the Master Plan will still come to fruition except Pimlico won't hit the wrecking ball.