Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Rebirth of Garrison Boulevard

Similar to Liberty Heights Avenue, Garrison Boulevard is a mixed use thoroughfare that provides quick access from Leakin Park all the way to Pimlico. Above Wabash Avenue, it is known as simply Garrison Avenue and is thought of as much more of a local street. This post will
discuss the section between Liberty Heights Avenue and Bloomingdale Road. Long story short Garrison Boulevard is due for a rebirth.
Garrison Boulevard grew up with the Neighborhoods it serves. All Neighborhoods that it has access to have a diverse array of housing options for incomes of all levels and Families large and small. Garrison Boulevard is a mircosm of all the Neighborhoods. If it serves as sort of a "Gateway" to the Community I think it should streamlined and given a master planned approach to redevelopment that will make for a more attractive and modern corridor.
I'm not opposed to diverse array of housing options, but in the case of Garrison Boulevard, the housing available has no direction to it and in the case of higher density housing, the vacancy rate and demolition rate is all too high. There are blocks that were once full of row homes but vacant homes have since made way to vacant lots and appear to be "stand alone row homes." Redevelopment will address these issues on both a micro and macro level.
Similar to the roe house situation there are small Apartment Houses that appear to have once been large mansions that have since been divided. There is a high vacancy rate amongst these multi family dwellings and their dated appearance shows that simply reinvesting in them and trying to sell or rent them out as is would not be a worthwhile endavor. Like the isolated row homes, redevelopment appears to be the only alternative.
One particular property that needs to be addressed is the Garrison Woods apartment complex. These garden apartments have been boarded up for quite some time and appear to be slated for demolition. There are still signs showing that there are Apartments available for lease but
the boarded up windows, the fence surrounding them, and the overgrown landscaping, this development has been abandoned and the lack of action regarding demolition shows that there is little developer interest in the land.
Most of the blocks on Garrison Boulevard are for Single Family Homes. A lot of the Single Family Homes have fallen into disrepair resulting in being condemned by the City only to sit vacant indefinitely. Fortunately there are signs of life in a few instances. There are probably half a dozen new Single Family Homes that have been built in the past few years most likely on the lots of delapidated homes that have since been torn down. These new homes show that there is an
outside interest in the area and redevelopment will provide growth to the area and will be an assest even if Single Family Homes will no longer be the primary land use.
There is a small amount of Retail along Garrison Boulevard as well as the Garwyn Oaks Medical Center. The Retail, like the housing has become blighted and distressed. Retail is also one story which in urban planning makes for a waste of space. Retail in an urban area should always have either Offices or Apartments above it.
The Garwn Oaks Medical Center is a vital asset to the Community and is very busy. The complex has become dated and since I'm writing a comprehensive redevelopment plan the new Medical Center should be located above new
Now that I've discussed current land uses and their failures, it is now time to tear it all down. In order to give Garrison Boulevard a proper rebirth it has to die first, it's been dying a slow death for a good 25 years so demolition will serve as a final nail in the coffin. New Single Family Homes will be spared as well as the Senior Apartment Building (pictured above.)
New housing will be almost all Apartments and Condos with Garrison Boulevard frontage. Around the intersection of Garrison Boulevard and Gwynns Falls Parkway, there will be Ground Floor Retail as well as the new Garwyn Oaks Medical Center. Buildings will be four to five stories
high with efficiencies, 1, 2, and 3 bedroom Apartments with all the modern conviences afforded with new construction.
The income mix will be as follows; 55% Market Rate Home Ownership, 30% Market Rate Rentals, 10% Affordable Home Ownership and 5% Affordable Rentals. In the case of plots of land that go back behind Garrison Boulevard like Garrison Woods Apartments and Concerned Citizens of Forset Park, Town Homes will be built (pictured above).
The road itself will also undergo a drastic rebirth. A landscaped median not unlike new ones built along Fulton Avenue (pictured above)and Edmondson Avenue will be added. Traffic signals will be rebuilt with pedestrian walk and don't walk signs along with count down timers in every direction. There will also pedestrian shelters built in the median. Sidewalks and curbs will be re cemented and leveled and new Bus Shelters will be added.That just about does it for Garrison Boulevard, hopefully that will give the Neighborhood of Garwyn Oaks a much needed shot in the arm towards revitalization. Garwyn Oaks as of the 2010 census is 40% vacant. I almost forgot! The Forest Park branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library will be rebuilt.

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