Friday, June 26, 2015

Could the New Apartments in South Baltimore Help its Parking Woes?

Ever been to South Baltimore? Of course you have, it's a great up and coming part of the City mixed with classic Baltimore Row Homes, New Apartments, Condos, and Town Homes as well as old industrial buildings being converted into Residences. Lets not forget the growing of Restaurants,Pubs, and Boutiques popping up throughout the Neighborhood especially around the Cross Street Market. So, if you want to experience Baltimore's day and night life, hop on the Light Rail and/or the Charm City Circulator and have a ball.
Oh, you want to drive to South Baltimore? You live in one of South Baltimore's classic row homes? So how and where do you park? This is one of the parts of the City that has been drawing young people from the suburbs as well as DC due to its relative affordability. This demographic has a high number of people who have ditched their cars. And why not? Urban living when done right, there is no need for a car. All one has to do is hop on a bus or rail transit of some sort if your destination isn't within a short walk from home or work.
Sadly South Baltimore is one of the parts of the City where a car is needed. This is also one of the oldest parts of the City so streets are only barely able to support two way traffic with on-street parking and those are the "wide" roads. This has created a problem; There's nowhere to park in South Baltimore. That's why in the first paragraph when I was singing South Baltimore's praises, I said take the Light Rail and/or the Charm City Circulator to avoid parking here. If you do live here or decide to bring your into South Baltimore, you will no doubt spend an extra 10-15 minutes circling the blocks surrounding your destination hoping to find a parking spot that isn't a driveway or doesn't have a fire hydrant in front of it. Keep in mind once you do find that miracle parking spot that's too good to be true, you're probably stealing from the true Resident of the Row Home you parked in front of. 
Like I said in the beginning, South Baltimore is an up and coming Neighborhood. What does that mean? It means that in addition to population growth from Residents rehabbing existing row homes and vacant industrial uses turned into Residences, new construction is going up at a break neck pace. Fortunately for those renting or buying new construction you most likely can bypass the parking woes since most new Apartments come with a parking garage with reserved parking. The same is with new Town Homes in South Baltimore as they are usually three or four stories tall and are much wider than their old row house counterparts, they have a driveways with either a one or two car garage. If it's a Community of new Town Homes it may even be gated.
Well it's obvious that the solution is more parking garages. Granted these structures are ugly and take away from the historic nature and welcoming environment all communities strive to achieve. South Baltimore is no exception. If one takes a look at the two recent mid-rise Apartment buildings that were just built along Wells St. near Charles St., don't appear to have an unsightly garage attached to them. Well that's what they want you to think. These buildings do in fact have their own garages but their buildings cover them up. In high density Apartment buildings these days, the parking garage is in the center of the structure much like a pool and outdoor gathering space does as well. This shields Residents of these buildings from South Baltimore's parking woes, but what about everyone else?
We can't expand the parking garages on the two new Wells St. buildings because they've been completed but there are several new Apartment buildings coming down the pipeline that can help address these problems. Even better news, they're not all concentrated in one place. They're spread throughout South Baltimore so a new parking garage could be near you. These proposed garages have enough spaces for their future Residents and perhaps a few extra spaces. If they were to add a couple of levels to these garages for visitors and nearby Residents, that would be a huge step in the right direction by lessening the parking woes.
First there's Stadium Square. This new multi building mixed development is located in the Sharp-Leadenhall Neighborhood will be built along the blocks of Race St. and Leadenhall St. between Hamburg St. and Ostend St. that are currently dead industrial zones. Plans for two of the buildings have come one is an Apartment Building with ground floor Retail. The Second Buildings is an Office Building (also with ground floor Retail) which will address the demand for Office Space in the area. Stadium Square is billed as a Tech Incubator for Baltimore. Both of these buildings and other buildings to come will have parking garages wrapped around them. If both buildings expanded their garages underground, then parking in this section of South Baltimore will become much easier.
Next there's a proposed Apartment Building where the currently vacant University of Maryland Specialty sits on S, Charles St. in Otterbein. Although the currently peaceful Neighborhood may feel threatened by this large new building and the life it will bring to it, current Residents can rest assure that ground floor Retail is not planned for this building as well as the fact that it will have a parking garage wrapped around which I'm also proposing to have extra spaces reserved in the area although this area isn't as effected by parking woes than as other parts are. 
Next there's Anthem House. Located at the entrance to Locust Point, this nine story ultra luxury Apartment Building may not need to have additional parking due to the fact that it's right near lots of other parking garages in McHenry Row and there's surface level parking in Southside Shopping Center both directly across the street from the Anthem House site. Still, I would add the additional spaces anyway just in case somebody intends on taking a westward walk along Fort Ave. where the parking becomes much tighter.
Perhaps the most crucial development proposal is the redevelopment of the Cross St. Market. Located in the heart of Federal Hill boutique Retail has popped up all over this popular destination. There is a stand alone parking garage next to the market but I would like to see more parking. My preference would be under-ground parking just beneath the redeveloped Market so as not further disturb the historic nature of the Community. 
Many South Baltimore Residents think that the addition of new high density Apartments will only increase the parking woes they're currently experiencing. If developers kept this in mind and added parking that's meant for people other than the tenants of their buildings, they would be an asset to the Community and help South Baltimore continue to thrive.

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