Monday, March 12, 2012

Public Housing: What's Next on the Demolition List

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against the concept of Public Housing, I think it's unfortunate that Public Housing has become a hot bed for crime and the drug trade and that opportunities lack for Residents who seek better employment and education. Now for something that is promising; of the former Public Housing developments that have been demolished and redeveloped as mixed income mixed use Communities have flourished.
The drug trade is not quite so obvious and violent crime is way down not to mention an upwardly mobile population that has brought a tax base to these once stagnant areas. It is with that thesis that I find it essential to continue what was done before our economy collapsed; continue redeveloping public housing into mixed income Communities. Now on to the nitty gritty of what hits the wrecking ball and what goes in their places.
First we come to McCulloh Homes, this is probably the Public Housing that is located on one of the most sought after sites in the City. Given that it's next to both the State Center redevelopment zone and Heritage Crossing, a successful HOPE VI redevelopment project, the demolition and redevelopment of McCulloh Homes is essential a truly walkable TOD haven
which planners have called the Eutaw District. the Eutaw District is named after Eutaw Place the glorious median street that runs through Bolton Hill a sought after Row House Neighborhood that is currently closed off from the proposed Eutaw District with McCulloh Homes as it main reason.
With the Eutaw District's proposed Retail and transit amenities in addition to a few thousand new mixed income residences, Bolton Hill may finally let its guard down. Speaking of transit, if McCulloh Homes were to be redeveloped it would provide a link to State Center's Light Rail and Metro Subway to Heritage Crossing's proposed Red Line Stop. This would be a triple tier transfer to and from transit lines. See what I mean by McCulloh Homes being located on one of the most Sought After sites in the City?
Next comes LaTrobe Homes, although few know it, I believe LaTrobe Homes is also a sought after site when it comes to furthering Baltimore's transformation. The proposed demolition of the JFX will certainly prove to be a game changer when it comes to connecting East Baltimore and Hopkins to Downtown and the Harbor. The demolition of JFX proposed a "Super Downtown" that extends from MLK Boulevard all the way to Hopkins.
Given that a City's Downtown is often thought of as its show case, it might be beneficial to increase density in areas that are currently lacking it.
Another Public Housing development was also once located in this area between Downtown and Hopkins; Somerset Homes. In late 2008/early 2009 Somerset was demolished after being vacated of its few remaining Residents. Sadly, Somerset Homes hasn't been redeveloped the land has remained vacant indefinitely.
There is a far reaching master plan for the Oldtown Mall that contains housing options for Somerset but with reinvestment dollars tight, it might take some time. I see a similar fate for LaTrobe Homes and its sprawling borderline suburban Apartments. I think a mixed income mixed use project will prove to be a great asset in the goal of connecting Downtown to Hopkins.
However, I don't want to see LaTrobe Homes demolished until funding for a new development is secured and a Master Plan is created so the site doesn't stay vacant like Somerset has.Gilmor Homes is located in the rapidly gentrifying Sandtown Winchester Neighborhood. One big hindrance that's keeping Sandtown and surrounding areas for that matter, is Gilmor Homes located right in the middle of the Neighborhood. The gentrified part of the Neighborhood is concentrated on the Neighborhood's southern and eastern borders. This area contains new
Town Homes where vacant dilapidated Row Homes once stood and also contains rehabbed Row Homes that were in good enough condition to save.
Sandtown's northern and western border, located on the other side of Gilmor Homes hasn't fared as well. There is a high concentration of vacants. I believe that if Gilmor Homes were redeveloped as a mixed income Town Home Community not unlike the new Town Homes built in the Neighborhood's southern and eastern border, it will serve as a catalyst for reinvestment
and redevelopment in Sandtown, Upton, Harlem Park, and Penn North.
Prekins Homes? Here is why I put a question mark in this segment, I don't know what to do about Perkins Homes should it stay as is? Or should it be redeveloped like a lot of its Public Housing cohort? I did a post several years back concerning the fate of Perkins Homes and I thought redevelopment was the way to go. I received a comment on that post that agrees with me stating that fewer and fewer of the homes are occupied. That comment led me further down the redevelopment path. Then, the 2010 census came out with profiles of each of Baltimore's Neighborhoods I saw under the profile of Perkins Homes that it actually grew in population. Now population growth is a sign of health and vitality in a Neighborhood if that is indeed true then
Perkins Homes should stay as is.One of the biggest reasons for redevelopment is population loss and vacant homes. Why do it if there's growth? That is why there's a question mark next to Perkins Homes.
Poe Homes, one of Baltimore's oldest standing Public Housing Developments is ripe for redevelopment. Poppleton is due for a turn around with the continued construction of the UMB Biotech Park that will bring jobs and vitality to the Neighborhood. When Lexington Terrace was demolished and redeveloped with the Townes at the Terraces (pictured above), I believe that the income mix was not great enough. With a redeveloped Poe Homes that can be fixed in one of two ways. One way is to redevelop Poe Homes as a mixed income Community with Market Rates and Affordable Rates and as Homes in Townes at the Terraces become available they're renovated and either rented or sold at Market Rate. Also within this option as Public Housing
Residents in the Terraces become more upwardly mobile, they can buy the home they're in at an affordable price. The other option for Poppleton is due to redevelop Poe Homes with nothing but market rate housing be it rentals or for purchase and leave the income mix at the Terraces as is.
With Brooklyn, residents always say that it depends what block you're on when it comes to upkeep, crime, and drugs. Some blocks are pristine, while others need to hit the wrecking ball. Now Brooklyn won't and shouldn't gentrify like some of its Middle Branch Neighbors for the following reasons; It doesn't have a view of Downtown and the Harbor and also Fairfield, Brooklyn's access to the water still employs a large number of workers both on and off the docks. There have been too many piers shut down for redevelopment and I would like to see some preserved.Still, Brooklyn needs reinvestment in order to make that all its blocks are in pristine condition. That being said, Brooklyn has a public housing development of its own; Brooklyn Homes. By redeveloping not only Brooklyn Homes but Brooklyn Apartments, Baybrook Apartments, and a few blocks above Brooklyn Homes that have seen disinvestment Brooklyn will be on the road to recovery.
Finally we come to Douglas Homes, its fate will be determined by the same Master Plan that will decide what will go where the wreckage that is Somerset Homes is. However, that plan doesn't see redevelopment as a good idea for Douglas Homes. I of course disagree with their view and given how much redevelopment is poised for this area due to the Hopkins Biotech Park and other Public Housing Developments being redeveloped, I think Douglas Homes would look very out of place and despite it not being a very high crime development I can see it as a deterrent for potential Residents looking to repopulate East Baltimore.Now not all developments warrant redevelopment Westport Homes is one of these developments. Given that two nearby developments; Westport Homes Extension and Mount Winans Homes have been shuttered or demolished without any plans for redevelopment, doing that at yet another nearby development would not be a good idea.
As Patrick Turner's Billion Dollar Westport Waterfront comes online, A lot of Westport's existing Row Houses will become gold mines and Westport Homes may then require redevelopment but lets wait and see. Also another mile stone Westport Homes must hit is the actual new building of homes where Westport Homes Extension and Mount Winans homes once stood.
Although Cherry Hill Homes is a very large concentration of Public Housing, something I'm trying to get rid of I think Cherry Hill Homes isn't ready for total demolition. Given the amount of units (1394) and the fact that this sprawling development takes up close to the entire Neighborhood, I think a large Master Plan is in order to determine who would be permitted to stay after redevelopment and how tall buildings should be. I would like to see Cherry Hill's Waterview Overlook brought back as a way to introduce Cherry Hill to Baltimore's Harbor.Well there you have it, I have introduced a bold plan to get funding back on track to redevelop old public housing developments that are outdated and not privy to the mixed income concept that has been so successful in recent years.


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Anonymous said...

Regarding Perkins Homes, I disagree with your stance. Just because it's growing in population doesn't necessarily mean it's a "healthy" neighborhood. Either HUD is stashing people in Perkins, or the numbers are coming from the heavy population growth in the blocks surrounding Perkins (such as the developments up Central Ave. from Harbor East.) I would suggest that Perkins is solely responsible for blocking a huge amount of growth in Southeast, particularly north of Perkins in the Jonestown area. It's nestled between Harbor East, Little Italy, Fells Point, and with Hopkins Hospital right up the street. Perkins has been the last bastion of drugs and violence in the area, and really needs to be redeveloped to let the area prosper. I think this should be #1 on the city's list!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous comment. I just recently purchased a home on Portugal Street and have been warned by neighbors not to walk the 1/2 block north toward Bank Street which is the corner of Perkins. When I drive by on Bank street, I see police activity there daily.

I'm also 1 block from Broadway Market and feel perfectly save walking south or along Eastern Ave.

Bert Daniel said...

"Baltimore City's Past Present and Future" is avery informative blog.Thanks for sharing your photos.

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Anonymous said...

Anonymous - regarding your comment about not walking certain places: it's really sad that people have to extend these warnings. I'm not from Baltimore, so when my fiance and I moved to a home in the Ten Hills area - I was told the same thing about walking down the street and around the corner. "You're fine, just don't go past..." While I appreciate my neighbors for warning me, it's ridiculous. I'm fed up with the lawlessness, crime, and corruption of this "great" city. I cannot wait to get far, far away.

Pat Taylor said...

I'm seeking some info on the property at 6th St. and Virginia that's now vacant. Fifty years ago the area had a small community of what we called army barracks. The community stretched from 6th St. to West Bay Ave. I'd like to know the history of the army barracks and when demolished. anyone may respond here or at my email address..,..Thank you..