Monday, October 23, 2017

Upper Howard St. The Next Development Magnet

First off, I want to make clear the exact area I'm referring to when I say "Upper Howard St." I'm referring to the blocks between North Avenue and 26th St. The upper blocks of the area won't be discussed since that's the old Anderson Automotive Site which had been slated to be an Upper Big Box Center known as 25th St. Station complete with a Wal-Mart. Since that project is dead and the future of the sight is in limbo and its use is unknown, I won't discuss it in this post.
The area surrounding Upper Howard St. is in the midst of a development boom. It's located in between Mount Vernon, Reservoir Hill, Bolton Hill, MICA, Remington, Station North, Charles North, and Charles Village. Also nearby are John's Hopkins University, Hampden, and Woodberry. This area is among the most up & coming in only behind Downtown, the Inner Harbor, and the Southeast. Given the proximity Upper Howard St. has to all these areas, you'd think it would have the hottest pieces of Real Estate in the City right?
Wrong! It appears that this area is still in the olden times where cities tried to emulate the suburbs by widening roads and building nothing but auto oriented businesses. It makes sense as Howard St. was a major thoroughfare through Downtown into northern neighborhoods and into the suburbs. It also provides easy access to and from the JFX especially northbound considering the de-centralization of Downtown to the south in the latter half of the 20th Century.   
So today Upper Howard St. is a hodgepodge of auto-oriented uses and a suburban style shopping center. The road itself is a rather wide boulevard thoroughfare which encourages high speeds that can cause lots of accidents. In the area surrounding Upper Howard St., especially west of it, there are shuttered industrial remains and even further to the west are some tidy row homes that were most likely meant for the workers of these industries.
It seems that these few blocks of Howard St. have been surpassed by developers and need a master plan to jump start redevelopment efforts. I would like this area to be more Neighborhood oriented rather than a mere thoroughfare as it appears to be now. First, I would lower the speed limit, add bike lanes, new mast arm traffic signals, repave and re-stripe the road, and re-cement the sidewalks. Then, I would rezone the area from Commercial/Industrial to a more attractive Residential with Neighborhood Retail type of zoning. I would move the current auto oriented businesses on Howard St. and move them to E. 25th St.
Once the old businesses have been cleared away, I would redevelop Howard St. with town homes featuring basement Retail. Behind Howard St. along 23rd and 24th St. I would build three Apartment Buildings similar to the new Stadium Square Development under construction in South Baltimore. This development, although similar in appearance to Stadium Square would be primarily Residential. The existing industrial buildings sprinkled throughout this area would be rehabbed as lofts. I would also redevelop the decidedly suburban Midtown Market Place and the surface lot behind it with a mixed use development similar to Locust Point's McHenry Row.
Although Upper Howard St. is located in the middle of a development boom in between Bolton Hill, Reservoir Hill, MICA, UMB, Johns Hopkins University, Remington, Charles Village, Station North, and Charles North, it hasn't seen the level of investment that its Neighbors has. By re-zoning it to a use more conducive to its surroundings, I believe Upper Howard St. will be the next development magnet. 

No comments: