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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cherry Hill: A Development Oriented Master Plan

Photo from the New York Times
 In 2008 Baltimore released the long awaited Master Plan for the Cherry Hill Community. It addressed issues such as Youth Groups, Education, Senior Services, Shopping at the Town Center, Public Health, and Voter Turnout. One thing that isn't discussed in great detail is the pressing need to redevelop parts of the Neighborhood to help integrate it into the urban fabric of Baltimore. It's mentioned a little bit, just glossed over a little bit. It does mention crime a little bit but it doesn't talk about how Cherry Hill's distressed Public Housing and lack of Home Ownership are at the forefront of crime. Although every issue that I mentioned above is very important to the overall health of Cherry Hill, redevelopment in certain areas is crucial and I would like to take this time present a Master Plan of my own to address redevelopment and hopefully eradicate crime and poverty.
Photo From Cherry Hill Master Plan
Now there has been some great reinvestment in Cherry Hill that is right on par with how I would to proceed further with redevelopment plans. The Landex Company at the turn of the century took the original 320 World War II Barracks which were in a state of disrepair, demolished 68 of them and then took the remaining 252 apartments and made them into 126 three and four bedroom Town Homes. These Town Homes are great way to build personal equity and wealth because those who qualify can rent to own. The plan I will be putting forth is very big on converting qualified renters who are existing Cherry Hill Residents into home owners. 
Photo From Google Earth
The land on which the demolished Barracks once stood, new Town Homes with garages were built as market rate Home Ownership Units. The only issue I take with this development is that the home ownership and rentals are clearly differentiated which in a true mixed income Community the circumstances of the Residents are shown by the type of home they live in.
Photo From Google Earth
Now there is some confusion regarding Cherry Hill that I would like to clear up. Cherry Hill and Cherry Hill Homes are not the same thing. Cherry Hill Homes is a Public Housing Development that skirts the edge of the Neighborhood and is easy accessible to the Light Rail Station and as a result Patapsco Avenue. Much of the crime in Cherry Hill appears to be associated with Cherry Hill Homes. There are currently 1394 units of this sprawling development which is a mixture of Garden Apartments and Town Homes. I believe that Cherry Hill as a whole can make a turn around if a significant portion of Cherry Hill Homes were redeveloped.
Photo From Cherry Hill Master Plan
The rest of Cherry Hill is a mixture of Apartment Complexes (Cherrydale, The Communities of Middle Branch Manor) the revitalized Barracks (River Front Town Homes) and privately owned "classic" Baltimore Row Homes. This is the Cherry Hill that doesn't make head lines because it's relatively safe and isn't poverty stricken and in distressed condition like the Cherry Hill Homes development.  
Photo From Cherry Hill Master Plan
Also in Cherry Hill there are a good number of amenities such as the Aquatic Center and Splash Park, South Baltimore Health Center, Harbor Hospital, The Gwynns Falls Trail, Light Rail Access, Middle Branch Park, a Town Center, Cherry Hill Park, Southern Community Action Center, Baltimore Rowing Club, Middle Branch Marina, as well as great views of Downtown. A community with amenities such as these should be a magnet for Young Professionals, and Families of all ages and income levels. The rents should mirror that of Inner Harbor East while the price of a Row Home should mirror that of Fells Point. Obviously this is not the case and I believe Cherry Hill Homes is the primary factor holding the Neighborhood back.
Photo From Google Earth
That being said, it's time to redevelop Cherry Hill Homes. Now the newer section located near Carver Road and Bridgeview Road (pictured above) will be spared and will remain a Public Housing Family Development. Now one thing that be done with caution and care is to provide public housing for Seniors who would be displaced by the redevelopment of Cherry Hill Homes.
These new Senior buildings will be located next to Harbor Hospital on what is now surface parking. This will have an effect on security around the Hospital because visitors and employees alike will now have to park in a garage that will be built on site. With the new Senior Development located here Residents will be closer to the Town Center as well as the Health Center.
The Senior Buildings will be amenity filled and will cater to Seniors with all different needs such as Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Nursing Residents. All Seniors in Cherry Hill Homes will be guaranteed a place in the new Senior Development and if there are any left over, Seniors on a Public Housing waiting list would fill the rest of the Apartments up. 
The section of Cherry Hill Home to be redeveloped will be on the outskirts of the Neighborhood located behind the Patapsco Avenue Light Rail Station. In the place of Cherry Hill Homes will be high density TOD Apartments, Condos, and Town Homes most of which will be Market Rate Home Ownership and Rentals (70%) They will expand from Seagull Avenue to Berea Road. This new TOD Community will integrate Cherry Hill with the Light Rail Stop with a lighted promenade from Seagull Avenue to Berea Road. The following road will be extended to meet Patapsco Avenue; Seagull Avebue, Bethune Road, Bridgeview Road, and Sethlow Road. This will allow Patapsco Avenue as well the Light Rail Station to be integrated into the fabric of Cherry Hill. 
Photo From Baltimore Housing.org
Also when redeveloping Cherry Hill Homes, great care must be taken not to displace Residents who are upwardly mobile. There are Residents who are gainfully employed and/or are in School. A good portion (30%) will be set aside for current Cherry Hill Homes Residents who meet the upwardly mobile criteria above which will allow them to "rent to own" their homes. These new homes will be similar in concept to the successful River Front Town Homes that were the original Barracks. This will increase Home Ownership in Cherry Hill and allow Residents to build equity in their homes. Unlike River Front Town Homes, the redeveloped Cherry Hill Homes will be only new construction.
On the opposite side of Cherry Hill sits what was once to be Waterview Overlook, this was supposed to be an upscale condo and Town Home Development. Land along Waterview Avenue had been cleared for development but the housing market went bust and so did the developers of Waterview Overlook. Since this land is zoned for exactly the number of units that the original Waterview Overlook was supposed to have, I would like to see this project resurrected. Also along Waterview Avenue there is great opportunity to integrate the road with the existing Cherry Hill Community. It would involve redeveloping part of the Middle Branch Manor Apartments. The redeveloped part of Middle Branch Manor would be similar to Waterview Overlook in appearance and will have Waterview Avenue frontage.
In the inner ring of Cherry Hill, there are some plats of land that are vacant. Those plats of land will be developed as Town Homes which are what's already in that part of the Neighborhood. Also the existing Neighborhood is very dark. Street lights are very rare and I think invites crime. The redeveloped part of the Neighborhood will obviously have more street lights but they also have to be added to the existing Neighborhood. I'm surprised that this issue wasn't addressed long ago. Streets will be repaved and sidewalks repaired and retrofitted.  
Photo From Cherry Hill Master Plan
Now we come to the Schools. Cherry Hill has 4 Elementary Schools and 2 High Small High Schools. School Construction is something that Baltimore City is way behind on and I think that new Schools in Cherry Hill are crucial to its success. Combining the four Elementary Schools into two both in brand new buildings one at the current Arundel Elementary/Middle site and the other at the Patapsco Elementary/Middle. The two High Schools, New Era Academy and Southside Academy co-exist together in the former Arnett J. Brown Middle School Building. Since this building's use was that of a Middle School, the site outside is inadequate  for a High School let alone two. Things that are lacking include a running track, football field, tennis courts, and baseball diamonds. All that this School has is a blacktop. In order to keep this building's site adequate, all of those things will have to be added.
Photo From Cherry Hill Master Plan
In 2008 the City of Baltimore released a Master Plan for Cherry Hill. It barely brushed upon the subject of development and redevelopment. I think to achieve the results set forth in the original Plan a second Master Plan that was development oriented had to be created. Hopefully this plan that I have set forth will take off and Cherry Hill will be among Baltimore's most sought after addresses.   

1 comment:

Joseph T Wright said...

Greetings,

My name is Joseph T Wright and I rather enjoy your blog. Currently I am at McDaniel College conducting research on Baltimore's civil rights struggle and how unique it was leading form 1890 to the 1954 'free-choice' decision followed by the national Brown v. Board decision. I was curious if you would mind having a guest blog that was a condensed version of my research?

Best Wishes
- Joe