Saturday, June 23, 2012
In 2010 after years of rumors, Cardinal Gibbons School closed. Cardinal Gibbons, located at the southeastern corner of Wilkens Avenue and Caton Avenue was a community staple all throughout the Greater Baltimore Community with students coming near and far for a fully integrated Roman Catholic Education since 1962. Although Baltimore and surrounding Counties remain a Catholic strong hold, the numbers of said families who could afford a Private School Education has been dwindling. With Cardinal Gibbons and Schools like it losing population Cardinal Gibbons closed in 2010.
Now comes the issue of Cardinal Gibbons, it does have to be put back to productive use just like the rest of Wilkens Avenue. Just like when I had envisioned it as a Biotech Park the School Building must be preserved along with its impressive facade. So what does the Wilkens Avenue Community lack? Retail and Apartments. The closure of the Mount Clare Junction Safeway and the failure of that Shopping Center as a whole has left Wilkens Avenue looking for a good Neighborhood Shopping Center ever since. As a result, Residents have had to leave the City and shop at the Giant on Wilkens Avenue in Arbutus near I-695.
I have proposed that the Gwynns Falls Community Center be expanded to mirror the amenities of a regional park so keep that in mind when I say that the athletic fields of the now defunct Cardinal Gibbons School are a surplus and aren't good fit for the Community. A big reason this is true is because it's located on Caton Avenue which is very busy between Wilkens Avenue and I-95. A more centralized Shopping Center than Mount Clare Junction should be the crown and jewel of Wilkens Avenue. The intersection of Wilkens Avenue is probably one of the heaviest traveled intersections in SoWeoBo which is something Retailers look for selecting a site to operate their business.
A new clean Grocery Store must anchor the new Center that will take its name from Cardinal Gibbons, the School whose ball fields once stood at this very site. Although not a bargain store like Stop Shop & Save Murray's a new Grocer coming to Wilkens Avenue must pay careful attention to the financial constraints of the Neighborhood as well. In short that means high end Grocers like Trader Joe's might be out of most people's budget. Shop Rite, Food Lion, and Weis are a better fit. Other Retailers should include a Dry Cleaner, Bank, Restaurants, a Senior Center, and other convenience based Retailers that will serve the Community without being trashy.