Saturday, July 20, 2013
As I end my series on East Baltimore between Downtown and Hopkins, I find myself concentrating on two public housing developments that have their share of problems but are far from the City's worst. They also look the same but given their different locations, if either or both were to be redeveloped, the finished products would be decidedly different. As I end my series I take you from Douglas to Perkins.
Both Perkins Homes and Douglas Homes are among the older public housing developments in the City. They predate the notorious high rises that wreaked the most havoc in the City, they're both Apartments in three story buildings, they're surrounded by areas that either have or are going through major gentrification, and at least according to Residents in neighboring Communities, it's time for redevelopment of both.
So does this mean that crime is on the rise in Perkins and Douglas? Not necessarily, with the high rises gone, crime Citywide declined and public housing developments that didn't get knocked down and redeveloped became front and center and blamed for whatever crime and blight occurred in neighboring Communities. In short, they became scapegoats. I didn't make a very good case to champion redevelopment but I did that on purpose.
A big reason I champion redevelopment is because I believe it doesn't offer enough opportunities for those who wish to advance. I consider public housing to be perfect seniors, those who are disabled, and those in transition. When I say those in transition I mean people in College, Workforce training, or are just starting out. Basically it means you're upwardly mobile and have clean criminal records. Larger developments like Douglas and Perkins do not meet the Criteria of what I want public housing to become.
Now comes the fun part; what I want the redeveloped product for each community to be. We'll start with Douglas after all, this post is named from Douglas to Perkins. Douglas Homes like is located just south of Hopkins and north of two former high rises developments that have since been redeveloped with town homes. Given the high density of the Hopkins complex I foresee Douglas Homes being replaced with something of a density higher from the new town homes to its south. I envision a mixed income community with Apartments and Condos 4-5 stories (pictured above)with a parking garage that the buildings would be wrapped around. One smaller building will be dedicated solely to Seniors and will be public housing. A few "Family" public housing units will be sprinkled throughout the remaining buildings.
Perkins Homes is a different story. Located in southeast Baltimore surrounded by tidy row house Communities such as Fells Point, Upper Fells Point, Little Italy, and Historic Jonestown as well as being just a few very short blocks from the Harbor. High density Apartments would be very out of place here. Town Homes (pictured above)would suit the site of Perkins Homes much better. Given that parking is nearly impossible to come by in southeast Baltimore, all of the Town Homes will be equipped with garages. The Market Rate Town Homes will feature two car garages while the affordable ones will have a one car garage. Market Rate Town Homes will be four stories high while affordable ones will be "two over two stacked town homes" and will be sprinkled throughout the development.
In addition to Perkins Homes, this redevelopment plan includes City Springs Elementary and the defunct Lombard Middle. Lombard Middle currently houses at least one "Smaller Learning Community." With City Schools as a whole being under enrolled I always jump at the opportunity to reduce the amount of seats and make the existing Schools run efficiently. I would tear down School Buildings down and build a brand new School where City Springs now stands to house City Springs as well whatever Smaller Learning Community (s) are being housed at Lombard Middle. Where the Old Lombard Middle now is, I would build a public housing Senior Building to provide housing for displaced Perkins Homes Residents that's filled with amenities from independent living to nursing home and everything in between.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Just like LaTrobe Homes(pictured above), I have not been able to find much (or anything) in the way of history regarding the Edison Park Fast Lots but given their close proximity to the Jones Falls, I can only assume that they were flanked with Mills similar to those found in Hampden Woodberry. Regardless of the early years, this land was bought up by the Feds for the creation of the JFX and public housing high rises in hopes of "slum clearance." Whether there was ever any intent to build public housing high rises where the Edison Park Fast Lots now stand is unknown but rather than just have a huge swath of vacant land there it was decided to bring the suburbs to Downtown by creating acre after acre of surface parking lots.
The fact that this land was made into parking lots shows just low the value of the land was at the time. Luckily as Cities have become more livable again over the past 30 years, the Edison Park Fast Lots land may increase in value drastically as land for Offices, Hotel, and High Density Apartments and Condos becomes increasingly scares looking into the future. In fact, the Oldtown Master Plan, which in some ways mirrors my East Baltimore Series (it's completely different in other ways) shows the Edison Park Fast Lots redeveloped with Sky Scrapers as an extension of Downtown. I should mention that with Master Plans, Planners and Developers alike create long term visions, these lots won't be redeveloped any time soon.
Personally, I think the Edison Park Fast Lots shouldn't be developed for quite some time. There are just too many other factors that make it the wrong time. First, there's the JFX. It literally is a wall between the Edison Park Fast Lots and Downtown. Once the proposed demolition is complete and Guilford Avenue and the Fallsway have replaced the JFX from Fayette St. to Preston St. the gateway from East Baltimore to Downtown will have opened. Even then, will there be a demand for additional high density Housing, Hotels, Offices, and Retail?
Given that there is no definite date of completion (or start) for the demolition of the JFX I can't say for certain that there will or won't be demand for the high density sky scrapers planned for the Edison Park Lots. Right now I can say with certainty; Absolutely not.
The economic climate has vacancy rates in Offices very high in the Downtown/ Charles Center area. (pictured above)Yet new Office Buildings are being built in Harbor East and Harbor Point has been approved for still more Offices. There will also be more Offices built when State Center redevelops. With these projects all in the pipeline I think it will be a long time until there is a demand for Office Space that would require the development of the Edison Park Fast Lots.
As development continues in East Baltimore, the swath of land known as the Edison Park Fast Lots will look even more out of place. But given the state of the JFX and the ability of the economy to absorb more Office, Apartments, and Hotel space, I have to say; Not Yet.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
Although Middle East has been in shambles since the dawn of cocaine, CARE was relatively well populated and still contained neatly packed row homes at least it appeared that way when comparing it to what lay above Monument St. In addition, McElderry Park to the east was crumbling before our very eyes.
Although the Harbor brought gentrification in the 1980s, CARE was not the least but effected. In fact some may say that more well to do Residents saw how nice the Harbor looked and how their Neighborhood failed in comparison and they upped and left. It wasn't until the 1990s and the 2000s that Neighborhoods in Southeast Baltimore began feeling the gentrification effect. Row Homes in Neighborhoods such as Fells Point, Upper Fells Point, Canton, Federal Hill, South Baltimore, and Little Italy had row homes that were once vacant lovingly restored to their former splendor. Eventually, rehabbing existing row homes became scares because hardly any were vacant. It was then that vacated industrial areas were redeveloped as mixed use Condos, Retail, and Offices in the aforementioned Neighborhoods.
As the 2000s wore on so did the expansion of the gentrification caused by the Harbor. Neighborhoods further away from the Harbor such as Locust Point, Butchers Hill, Washington Hill, Patterson Park, and Brewers Hill became to experience the same cycle of rehabbing row homes and redeveloping vacant parcels of land. As the gentrification of Brewer's Hill was nearing completion, so was the inevitability that it would cross Fayette St. into CARE. Sadly this did not happen as the economy crashed in no small part due to the housing bubble bursting. Now that it's 2013 and the Housing Market is showing signs of improvement the perfect storm is brewing over CARE.
New town home communities (pictured above) that replaced public housing high rises was just the tip of the iceberg. In order for Hopkins to be as desirable a Residential Address as it is a Business Address somebody with deep pockets wasn't going to have to tap into Middle East in a big way. And that somebody was the Hospital itself. Its ever expanding campus decided to set its sights in to the Biotech Field by opening a Bio Sciences part just north of the Hospital in Middle East. The Biotech Park was just a little piece of the puzzle.
The majority of what was now being branded as "Baltimore's New East Side" would be Residential. It will include 1600 new and rehabbed mixed income homes, a MARC Station, a Community School, and Neighborhood Retail hopefully attracting a Full Service Grocer. With Hopkins becoming a place that people actually want to live near not just work at, not only would housing be snatched up quickly but so would existing vacant housing that's still in relatively good shape. It appears that another perfect storm is brewing over CARE.
When these two perfect storms converge on CARE the result will be great. Row after row of houses will be restored to look as fresh as the day they were built, the wide sidewalks, will make way for gardens and trees, the wide one way streets will play host to slanted sideways parking (which I believe add a touch of class), and it will be done without tearing down and rebuilding homes. New homes will be built but that will be on land that's already vacant.
With the Harbor and Hopkins being such a driving force with development in Baltimore eventually the synergy created by each was bound to overlap. The point at which they converge is CARE and wouldn't you know it, the housing stock isn't all that bad. This is truly two perfect storms.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Friday, July 5, 2013
One can't help but notice when looking at a map of LaTrobe Homes that actually very close to Greenmount West, which is part of Station North. Station North is gentrifying more and more by the day and the gentrification is heading east from the Charles North area to Greenmount West. Charles North may become a victim of its own gentrification efforts as glitzy new developments for the area are planned in the coming decades.
I envision LaTrobe Homes as an expansion of Station North. I think that will then encourage the rehabilitation of existing row homes and redevelopment of vacant lots in Johnston Square and Oliver. So now there's the burning question of how this new development will look. First thing's first; public housing for Seniors. This is a must have for any development replacing outdated public housing and LaTrobe Homes is no different. The Senior public housing will act as a barrier between the prisons and the rest of the new development. It will contain a mix of amenity filled services including independent living, assisted living, and nursing home setups. Existing LaTrobe Homes Seniors will get first puck when it comes to available units.
Now the fun stuff, the actual Arts & Entertainment area; it will be focused along Harford Avenue (the Main St. of the new Neighborhood.) I envision Harford Avenue to flanked with live/work lofts with Art Galleries and other Retail that will serve the Neighborhood like a Farmers Market. Perhaps even a Grocery Store can go here as this area is a Food Desert. The Live/Work lofts will be sprinkled throughout the new development but the heaviest concentration will be on Harford Avenue. The goal for Harford Avenue is for it to emulate North Avenue in Station North. The Live/Work lofts as well as some of the regular residences, will have Artist subsidies.
In addition to the Artist Housing, there will be normal market rate housing some of which will emulate some of the housing recently built in Station North. There will be a few public housing sprinkled throughout the development for LaTrobe Homes Residents who aren't seniors.
Right now LaTrobe Homes is an area of the City plagued by crime, blight, and population loss. Once redeveloped the area (including Johnston Sqaure and Oliver) will be flanked with population growth, safety, beauty, and a high quality of life for all Residents.