Saturday, February 27, 2010

How far is the reach of Hopkins Biotech Park?

All the talk in East Baltimore is new Biotech Park and its development arm East Baltimore Development Initiative (EBDI) which has been charged with building Baltimore's "New East Side" now that covers a lot of ground, a lot of ground and a lot of blocks. Of course, Middle East will benfit the most because the entire Neighborhood from Ashland Ave. to Chase St.has been or will be torn down in favor of the 1500+ new homes, new school, and TOD Retail near the MARC line. But all that can't just simply transform East Baltimore by itself. Or can it? No it can't but I'd like to examine how far its renewal efforts will reach and where additional help is needed to truly build Baltimore's New East Side.
Hopkins isn't the only game in town when it comes to East Baltimore gentrification. First it went above Eastern Avenue, then above Patterson Park, then above Fayette St. and now Monument St. is where the buck stops. Patterson Park has been a driving force for non redevelopment renewal in Washington Hill, Butchers Hill, Highlandtown, and Upper Patterson Park. The renewal seeds are beginning to be planted throughout McElderry Park as well although there's a lot of work still to be done there. Hope VI redevelopment of dangerous public housing projects including Broadway Homes and Lafayette Courts have restored a sense of safety to the neighborhood. Hope VI has been such a blessing to Baltimore I would love to see President Obama revive it, all of us Marylanders know that Senator Barb will be the first in the Senate to back such legislation. If that were to become a reality, Douglass Homes, LaTrobe Homes, and eventually Perkins Homes would East Baltimore's first choice Developments for such funding.
Now, the title of this post is how far is the reach of the Hopkins Biotech Park? Well, it seems to be helping its neighbors to the south and eventually the west mostly. Of Course the Middle East Neighborhood has been engulfed by Hopkins and its neighbors to the north Oliver and Broadway East won't see much. The Gateway at Washington Hill, currently a vacant located directly below Hopkins is set to be developed into ground floor Retail, with Offices and Residences above. Plans call for a Supermarket as well. The economy has stalled this project (what else is new) but will prove to be a Community asset when completed.Another great development opportunity is the site of the recently demolished Somerset Homes. The Dixon Administration demolished this vacant public housing development with no real plans for redevelopment. I think of this as a blessing in disguise. Both east and west of Somerset Homes are other possible opportunities that should be merged together. Oldtown Mall and Forest St. Apartments to the west and three Schools to the east. One School is closed another slated for closure once the population drains out and the third is grossly under capacity. This would make for great mixed use development and a Dunbar High that fits its smaller population.

McElderry Park and Milton-Montford is my main focus of this post. McElderry Park has become a patch work of vacant homes and beautifully rehabbed ones. This patchwork isn't block by block it's home by home within the block. That was just one of may reasons redevelopment here would be a mistake. Other reasons are that the renewed interest in McElderry Park isn't from Hopkins redevelopment, it's from homesteaders who have been priced out of Patterson Park where redevelopment is about as common as Camden Yards filled with Os fans. Also the decline of McElderry Park was more recent than that of other parts of the City. That means its vacant housing stock isn't in that of shape. To jump start this I would like to see the City owned vacants here sold for $1.
Take a look at Fayette St. in McElderry Park. Closer to Downtown and Hopkins it has nice median strip that adds a touch of class to the street. I think this median needs to be extended from Hopkins to Pulaski Highway. Also notice the patchy pavement, this is common throughout McElderry Park and a Dixon Administration throw back known as "Operation Orange Cone" which paves City streets is needed here.
This gentrified block in Patterson Park has lots of trees. Trees, at least in Baltimore is a sure sign that a neighborhood is on the right track. McElderry Park does have trees but not enough. As homes are rehabbed trees, should be planted in front of them as a "gift" from the City.
Perhaps the biggest deciding factor of McElderry Park meeting up with Hopkins gentrification is the southeastern border of Middle East. This is the strongest section of the neighborhood and I don't see the EBDI tearing down these homes. This part of Middle East is what separates McElderry Park from Hopkins. Now, these homes on McElderry St. look fine but one is for sale, one is for rent and another is boarded up. This section of Middle East should be treated just like McElderry Park in that the City should sell these to homesteaders for $1. Once this section of Middle East comes back, the two biggest driving forces fore change in East Baltimore; Pattersonb Park and the Hopkins Biotech Park will join together.

Now how far is the reach of the Hopkins Biotech Park? As far as Upper Patterson Park, only if we allow for it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Keep Ed Hale's Canton Crossing Alive

What does it mean to be an investor? It means you give or "invest" your money assuming you will get your money back and then some. Some people have multiple investments where, in order for one investment to be properly funded, a return on another investment must mature or be paid back in a timely manner, otherwise all of that person's investments will fall like a house of cards.Enter 1st Mariner Bank CEO and Developer Ed Hale. Ed Hale was and may some day be yet again, a great investor. It was he who bought the land at Boston St. and Clinton St. in hopes of developing it into prime mixed use waterfront neighborhood and anchor to Canton. It was to be named Canton Crossing. In 2006 the first and perhaps the most well known part of Canton Crossing was completed. It was and is the 1st Mariner Tower which also was Ed Hale's private Residence on the top floor. With lots more development of Canton Crossing on the horizon with retail tenants waiting in line to lease and with the 1st Mariner Tower almost fully leased Ed Hale had it made. Or so we all thought.
In 2008, while we thought everything was hunky dory, Ed Hale was on the brink of financial disaster and as a part of the house of falling cards effect so was Canton Crossing. Although Ed Hale is the CEO of 1st Mariner Bank, he didn't borrow from his own Bank, instead he borrowed from Ixis Real Estate Capital Inc. For reasons unknown, Ed Hale was unable to pay back Ixis and had to default. A Columbia Real Estate firm stepped to throw Ed Hale and Canton Crossing a lifeline in the tune of $24.8 Million. At the time of the economic downturn, Ed Hale was behind on paying back that loan as well and the symbolic tower of Canton Crossing went into receivership.Since the Canton Crossing tower was always a hot property at 91% leased, so even in the worst recession since the Great Depression it wasn't a huge surprise that it had a buyer relatively quickly after going into receivership. Ed Hale was relieved of his debts and Canton Crossing when it was sold to Corporate Office Properties Trust or COPT.Ed Hale isn't sure how much of, if any of the undeveloped land in Canton Crossing will go along with his original plans or if he'll have to sell that too. There has been talk of another tower like the 1st Mariner Tower by COPT. If you've seen Canton Crossing's plans you'll see that this wasn't a part of them. This post is dedicated to Ed Hale and his vision for Canton Crossing and an SOS to keep it alive. Luckily, COPT won't be evicting existing tenants in the tower (except Ed Hale himself) but not 1st Mariner Bank. What's made Canton Crossing as successful as it's been is its mixed use concept that seems to be perfectly balanced between Residential, Retial, Office, and a Hotel. There were also talk of a Target and a Harris Teeter. Perhaps the icing in the cake that despite this mix of uses Canton Crossing promised have a Main Street theme with a Promenade.It is my belief that any disruption to this urban development ecosystem would hurt all existing tenants because they chose Canton Crossing for what they thought would go there. So changing Ed Hale's plans in my opinion would slowly kill the whole project. So join me in my desperate pleas to COPT in saying and those who may end up buying Canton Crossing's additional 31 acres still owned by Hale; Keep Ed Hale's Canton Crossing Alive!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What Will the 2010 Census Reveal?

We can't move forward until you sent it back. That's been the new slogan for the 2010 census, yep it's that time again to see just how Baltimore and the entire Country have changed in the past 10 years; for better or worse.
Baltimore's had a whirl wind decade from 2000-2010 and I'm sure there are a lot of stakeholders who are wondering what Baltimore in 2010 looks like. In 2005 at the forefront of the Real Estate Boom, Baltimore was poised to gain population for the first time in 50 years. Then the economy, which was being held together by the Real Estate Market collapsed and those projections have had to be adjusted.
Just like any other post industrial decade, most of Baltimore's Development revolved around the Harbor. Up until November 2006, we had Martin O'Malley (now Governor) as Mayor. Mayor O'Malley's tenure as Mayor was "putting neighborhoods first", this was a style of leadership Baltimore hadn't seen much of. In doing so O'Malley launched a handful of Plans to redevelop struggling Neighborhoods and build on their strengths. These plans are very long range and it will take some time before they can be gauged as successful or unsuccessful.
The Economic Downturn could have been much more disastrous to Baltimore but with O'Malley's "Neighborhoods First" echo ringing through City Hall long after entering the Governor's Mansion and outside forces like BRAC and EBDI, Baltimore's Neighborhoods outside the Harbor have gained popularity with their relative affordability and easy access to major Employers. So where will we see gains and where we will see losses? Well let me give my Amateur Opinion and when the 2010 Census is released, We'll compare and contrast together.
Greater Lauraville: Gain, this cluster of Neighborhoods which includes Lauraville, Arcadia, Morgan Park, Beverly Hills, and Waltherson have enjoyed an influx of new Residents and those who have lived there for generations. Harford Road has seen new anchors such as a Safeway and a CVS and a growing list of independent Restaurateurs. The recently completed Streetscape Enhancments of Harford Road have also made this area attractive and a more than a thoroughfare.
Hollins Market: Gain, In the 2000 Census Hollins Market's Vacancy Rate was a startling 25% despite boasting a gain between 1990 and 2000. With renewal efforts in and around Hollins Market that number appears to have gone down drastically. The highest concentration is in the two western most blocks. I'd say over all Hollins Market has a vacancy rate of 11% and by 2014 I wouldn't be surprised to see it in single digits. I think the demographics are roughly the same with a small jump in the Average Median Income.
Edmondson Village: Loss, Residents have been scared off by the dropping Home Ownership Rate and rise in Slum Lord Rentals. Violent Crime has also been on the rise in the latter part of the decade. Still, most of the Community's Row Homes are very well maintained and Edmondson Village still boasts a relatively high Home Ownership Rate. There is hope, once Uplands is redeveloped, Edmondson Village Shopping Center gets a better tenant roster, and if done right the Red Line will all attract new Residents who will buy homes here and do more than just "band aid" repairs. Another redevelopment opportunity for Edmondson Village could be Wildwood Gardens. Despite the efforts of one good Maintenance Engineer, Wildwood Gardens is just too old and warn down. A new mid to high rise mixed income development that takes advantage of the views offered by Leakin Park. I expect a gain between 2010 and 2020.
Fredrick Avenue: Loss, Don't fret there are many development and redevelopment opportunities here. Although Crime is a common deterrent for Residents both current and prospective redevelopment in Uplands and quite possibly troubled rental complexes such as Jamestown and areas near the MARC Line, like Edmondson Village, Fredrick Avenue will see a revival. Lucklily Fredrick Avenue isn't as bad as many other parts of the City.
Fells Point: Wash, One of Baltimore's Premier Neighborhoods has a lot of houses on the market. Many of these were bought by younger adults who have moved on due to work or growing families but their houses aren't selling. Fells Point is seeing new development and pretty much any house in Fells Point on the market is in demand, it's just a question of banks lending. Those selling in Fells Point may be doing so at a great loss having bought their homes at inflated prices but on the flip side Fells Point has become more affordable. I don't expect to see a numerical population change however, the demographics of Fells Point will see a large in its already strong Hispanic Population.
Pigtown: Gain, The 1980s saw a modest Population Gain for Pigtown but the 1990s saw that gain disappear and then some. In the 2000s Pigtown was rediscovered for its quirky charm, reasonably priced housing stock, a welcoming population of all economic and ethnic back rounds. A Brownfields Redevelopment Site produced Camden Crossing, a modern new town home development that will certainly up the Average Median Income for Pigtown. I see Pigtown continuing to become a trendy hot spot only if people stop calling Washington Village and address it by its proper name; Pigtown. Reservoir Hill: Wash, Reservoir Hill was hit hard by the flight to the suburbs. However, the late 1990s and up until the economic collapse, Reservoir Hill was being repopulated by Homesteaders who finally realized that with a little elbow grease, Reservoir Hill can be as nice as Bolton Hill to the south. In addition to Homesteaders, Home "Flippers" have bought in Reservoir Hill for less in hopes of selling it for more after Renovations. The economic conditions have left these flippers without any buyers which means they're losing money. A big hurdle for Reservoir Hill is the blighted Madison Park North Apartments along North Avenue. Redevelopment of these Apartments and new Development along Druid Park Lake Drive will help ensure continued success in Reservoir Hill. The Flippers will eventually get buyers. All these factors make me think the population hasn't changed in numbers.Hampden: Gain, like Pigtown, Hampden has built on its quirkiness and has brought much success to the Neighborhood. The Bee Hive Hairdo is alive and well here. Hampden's roots are that of a Mill Village with a working class population. This has led to an anti Gentrification as the population grows in hopes that Hampden will keep its charm and relative affordability. There has been some gentrification but it could be much worse. The Avenue, 34th St. Lights, Charm City Cakes, and Cafe Hon are just a few of Hampden's assets and attractions.
Rosemont: Loss, I believe the picture speaks for itself. Rosemont has been losing population due to lack of vitality, violent crime, poor retail, and the infamous "Road to Nowhere" have taken their toll on Rosemont. The Red Line and The West Baltimore MARC Redevelopment both promise to address all these issues but these are pipe dreams that are plagued with funding issues and poor planning. Meanwhile Rosemont will continue to decay. What's needed for Rosemont is to address its urban ills on a Human Scale not a redevelopment scale.
Greektown: Gain, Greektown's popularity has increased and during the annual Greekfest it becomes a regional all across the Greater Metro Area. Greektown lost 8.5% of its population in the 1990s but a Master Plan for the extreme Southeast including Greektown has turned the tide. New Town Homes known as Athena Sqaure along Oldham St. have ignited a development interest in the Greektown area. Before the economy collapsed, there were plans to build close to 1000 condos and town homes on an old industrial parcel. Also the proposed Highlandtown Loft District will bridge Highlandtown and Greektown together. Eastern Avenue streetscape enhancements have turned Greektown's Retail District into a quaint Village. A rise in the Community's Hispanic Population will add to the gain that Athena Square has brought. Greektown, I predict will be the next Hampden.Park Heights: Loss Ever wonder why the only Picture of Park Heights I have is the Community Entrance Sign? Well Park Heights scares me to death. Now as someone who would only be a potential traveler who has traveled through Pennsylvania Avenue, Oldtown Mall, East Baltimore Midway. Broadway East, Oliver, Rosemont, and Harlem Park and lives to tell about is scared of a Neighborhood it must REALLY be bad. My father grew up here on Queensbeery Avenue in the 5000 block which Residents compare to Baghdad and he'd take me down here and it was scary to say the least. Now if you're a Resident here, if given the chance to move out would you take it? If you were looking for a new home would Park Heights be your first choice? I didn't think so either. The City is draining the "core" of the Neighborhood out for a massive redevelopment effort. I hope it works I'd also like to see Pimlico Integrated into the Neighborhood better. Stay tuned for a post describing it in detail.Wilkens Avenue: Loss, there isn't much in the way of a Neighborhood draw along Wilkens Avenue. There are private Schools around here and the ever expanding St. Agnes Hospital. I do have ideas for this diamond in the rough including MARC TOD, making St. Agnes Hospital more Community Oriented, and $1 row homes. One problem Wilkens Avenue faces is Community Health including drug addiction, prostitution, and low High School attendance. This once solidly White Neighborhood has become more diverse over the past decade.
Brooklyn/Curtis Bay: Loss, It all depends on the block you're on. This sentiment is echoed throughout the entire Brooklyn/Curtis Bay Area. Some blocks are very well kept up while others have gone to the dogs. It used to be all the blocks were well kept up. I have plans to redevelop Brooklyn Homes, Bay Brook Apartments, Brooklyn Apartments, and three blocks above Brooklyn Homes. This will create a stronger Home Ownership throughout Brooklyn and in doing so will make Farring Bay Brook Park a stronger asset to the Neighborhood. Expect to see a rise in the Black and Hispanic Populations here especially in Brooklyn for 2010.
Westport: Loss, the Interstate Era and decline of Rust Belt Cities have ravaged this once Working and Middle Class Neighborhood. Even with the promise of Patrick Turner's multi billion redevelopment of the Westport Waterfront into a glitzy "second downtown", residents living in extreme poverty are being priced out before the construction even begins. Westport won't see a gain until they start seeing progress on the Waterfront. Part of Westport Homes has also been demolished. Hopefully in 2020 I'll be singing a different tune.Belair Edison: Gain, Belair Edison boasted a population gain the 1990s and I expect the trend to have continued in the past decade. It hasn't been completely smooth sailing for Belair Edison. The past three years saw an increase in Violent Crime and Belair Road, which was lined with Car Dealerships close up shop. Residents have shown a great sense of Community Pride and have started Neighborhood Watch Programs and have become great friends and allies with their fellow Neighbors. Across Sinclair Lane, the troubled Freedom Village and Claremont Homes developments hit the wrecking ball in favor of the mixed income Orchard Ridge. This will prove to yet another draw to Belair Edison other than the proximity to highways throughout the City and the fact that hardly any other row house neighborhood with affordable housing stock has so much grass and trees.
Upper Patterson/McElderry Park: Wash, Upper Patterson Park has gained population, as homesteaders have discovered the neighborhood with powers in hand. McElderry Park above Fayette St. has had the opposite effect. It seems that McElderry Park is emptying out while Patterson Park is filling up with a diverse array of residents including Whites moving back and vibrant Hispanic Community. McElderry Park experienced White Flight in the 1980s and Black Flight in the 1990s and 2000s. What's needed is to blur the line (Fayette St.) between Patterson Park and McElderry Park. If what's been traditionally known as McElderry Park becomes known as an extension of Patterson Park, it will see growth and tax revenue. Growth and tax revenue will attract City Services to fight crime and Community Health issues. Between the two neighborhoods put together I'd put the population the same as it was in 2000.
Middle East: Loss, Hopkins is having to destroy Middle East in order to save it. With a 30% vacancy rate in 2000 Middle East, lying north of Hopkins has been targeted as a place for the Johns Hopkins Biotech Park. The buck doesn't stop with the Biotech Park. Hopkins has turned Developer with the East Baltimore Development Initiative or the EBDI for short. The EBDI promises over 1500 units of new mixed income housing and rehabs of homes that they see fit. How does this translate into a population loss? Well, Hopkins has had demolish close to the entire Neighborhood to embark on this journey. Some of the demolished Homes had people living in them and they were forced to vacate. The first new housing has come down the pipe line in the form of Low Income Senior Apartments known as Ashland Gardens at the corner of Broadway and Ashland Avenue. Station North: Gain, just label an area an Arts & Entertainment District and the Artists with big visions and lots of sweat equity won't be far behind. This has been the tale of Station North. Anchored by Penn Station and the Charles Theater, Station North has seen an explosion of Art Galleries, Bars, and old Industrial Buildings turned into Loft Apartments. All of this had been vacant so marks for a huge percentage gain and a rather generous numerical gain as well. There was White Flight in the 1980s and 90s but this past decade has seen a gain in both White and Korean Residents. The latter demographic has inspired Baltimore's first "Asia Town" bordering Charles Village which has a large Chinese Population. The blight gap between Mount Vernon and Charles Village has closed. Next stop; Greenmount West and Barclay!
Fallstaff: Gain, This once solidly Jewish Neighorhood saw an influx of Black Residents in the 1980s and 90s and then a Hispanic influx in the past decade. This has made for Baltimore's largest enclave of Cultural Diversity. I project that Fallstaff is 1/3 Jewish, 1/3 Black, and 1/3 Hispanic with a large Jamaican population below Northern Parkway. The influxes have made for population gains. The Hispanic influx has made for a smaller Average Median Income as have the Jews who didn't move out to the Suburbs. I think the Black Population might boast the highest incomes in Fallstaff. This makes Fallstaff, in my opinion a very interesting area.Now what will all this mean for Baltimore as a whole? I think Baltimore's population has been hurdling at about 640,000 since 2005. After losing 80,000 residents in the 1990s, only losing 10,000 in five years and keeping that number for five years bodes well for the future. Baltimore's Population loss might have ended and growth might not be far behind. I think the largest growth will be in the Hispanic Population in the Southeast and Fallstaff. I think White Flight has ended while Black Residents are moving to the County. There's an undertone when I talk about Neighborhoods that have gained population being in close proximity to the MARC lines and major highways. This means that new Residents are transplants from other Cities and aren't working in Baltimore. This means that Baltimore is slowing becoming a suburb of itself. Our new Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake is well aware of that which is why her agenda involves moving more big business into Baltimore to make it self sustaining. Remember, we can't move forward until you send it back!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Stephanie Rawlings Blake:Rediscovering Downtown

Well, Baltimore has a new Mayor. Stephanie Rawlings Blake has taken the Office after Shelia Dixon resigned and like any new Mayor, she has an agenda. Now, so far all that needs to be done in Baltimore is removing four feet of snow and I'm sure Madame Mayor has a more ambitious agenda than that.
The Sun Paper asked Ms. Rawlings Blake what she had in mind for Charm City and here what she said. She wants more Economic Development Downtown which had been drained away to Inner Harbor East and Canton Crossing, she wants the Westside of Downtown to be vibrant once again, and more Federal Agencies to locate in Baltimore. She also wants all of Downtown to connect i.e. no dead zones. Well Madame Mayor, at the risk of sounding arrogant; why don't I draw you some blueprints on how to rediscover Downtown?
First we'll start with the Westside of Downtown. There are many treasures here such as Lexington Market, The Hippodrome, The Lyric Opera House, 1st Mariner Arena, and the old Grand Dame Department Stores. One big problem, perhaps the biggest is that so much of the Westside is in shambles. Just walk up Howard St, Lexington St, or Park Avenue and you will see that no Tourist and even some Residents won't feel safe going through here just to get to these attractions.Even those who live in the stately old Buildings turned into Apartments and Condos park underground and enter their buildings through the garage.
There were many development plans for the Westside of Downtown such as the Bank of America "Superblock" and the Residences at Lexington Market which, due to the economy have been shelved or scrapped. The best thing to do would be to take these plans off the self and find a Developer with deep pockets willing to take the risk and get these things built. Now, in its heyday the Westside was Baltimore's Retail Shopping Mecca.
This is how the Westside should come back. The Residential Plans shouldn't be scrapped but for every parcel of the Westside that has made a comeback there are about 5 other parcels that haven't. What's needed are at least two solid Anchors other than the Superblock to draw people back. The first should be a Multiplex Cinema on the grounds of the shuttered Mayfair. The redeveloped site will spare the Mayfair Marquis. Other Retail will be a mixture of National Chains and Mom & Pop Businesses including a reopening of the White Coffee Pot, a Baltimore landmark that has sat vacant for far too long. This will be a Mom & Pop operation that already has the brand name recognition of a chain. The second anchor should come in the form of a Transit Hub. This will include making the Red Line run through the Westside instead of beyond it. The Hub will be located here on Paca St. next to Lexington Market where there are both Light Rail and Subway stops already. Here's my Red Line Plan for Downtown, it's not Option 4C. Hopefully with a new Mayor, Baltimore can fix its flawed Red Line. Notice that my Red Line Plan stops at all the important places throughout the Westside of Downtown. Option 4C does not and will not help in your wish to rediscover the Westside Madame Mayor. Next on your Agenda, we come to Economic Development. Companies like Legg Mason and Sylvan Learning Center have moved southeast to Inner Harbor East leaving Charles Center, the City's Central Business District open for new businesses. The problem is Charles Center has a fortress like barrier of buildings that closes it off from the rest of Downtown.
Luckily, I have come up with a plan to re open streets that have been cut off when Charles Center was built. It will include some redevelopment but I think it will ultimately have a positive effect. The redevelopment in question would Hopkins Plaza, 1st Mariner Arena, and The Mechanic Opera House. It will connect Lexington St, Redwood, St, and Clay St, to their stubs on to the east and west of Charles Center. Like the Westside, Charles Center needs two anchors as well, neither of which will be Office Buildings.The first anchor will be a redeveloped 1st Mariner Arena. The current structure is dated and has just one entrance/exit and nothing in the way of ground floor Retail. In other words, it's a dead zone. Luckily it's slated for redevelopment and it will address these concerns as well as residences above it. One more thing I'd like to see happen is a Red Line Stop for it. My South Charles Center Stop on my Red Line Plan includes a small pedestrian tunnel that would lead to the new 1st Mariner Arena. Redwood St. would travel underneath the redeveloped 1st Mariner Arena.The second Charles Center Anchor will be a redeveloped Mechanic Opera House. It currently sits closed down awaiting a market turnaround for redevelopment. And no, the entire building is not boarded up, that's what it actually looks like, no wonder it closed down. Its redeveloped replacement will be similar to the redeveloped 1st Mariner Arena in that it will be mixed use with Retail and Residences above. The Developers are considering a Hotel instead of Residences above but the two new Hyatts a block or two away makes the need for a Hotel less urgent.
To lure in the locals to Charles Center, the Charles St. Trolley will be an invaluable asset to shuttle Residents between Mount Vernon, Charles Village, Station North, and the Inner Harbor. Hopefully with a new ground level trolley Charles Center will become a destination for toursists and a viable night spot in and of itself.To lure in Big Business to Charles Center will require a further reaching form of transit. That will spur the birth of the Yellow Line. Now this can be without much cost but this little stretch of it will be a great resource for Downtown. This little stretch will connect to all Transit Lines existing and proposed. There are also many underground parking gragaes that the Yellow Line can "borrow" from to fashion a tunnel. It will start at Camden Yards breaking from the Blue Line going down Conway Street to Light St. where at Pratt St. it will meet the Red Line. Between the Convention Center and Harbor Place a tunnel is easy to carve out. It will meet the Green Line at Charles Center where the Station is already built for two lines. It will then go up Calvert St. to have a City Hall/Court House/Mercy Hospital Stop. It will end, for now at Penn Station where there are transfer to the Purple Line, MARC Camden Line, and Amtrak.
Another item on Mayor Rawlings Blake's Agenda is to lure Federal Agencies to Baltimore. She is citing the soon to be vacant Social Security Complex (they're moving to Reisterstown Station) as the perfect place. I happen to disagree. The Social Security Complex is invasive, sprawling, and goes against traditional urban planning. I think the Building and its Parking Garages (yes it has more than one) and build a series of denser buildings that would act as a Catalyst for further Westside redevelopment, State Center Redevelopment, and Road to Nowhere Redevelopment.
I can't tell you Madame Mayor, how to lure the Feds to Baltimore but I can tell where past Administrations didn't do enough to lure Federal Agencies here in the past decade.First is BRAC, Maryland has lured several closed Military Bases to Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County and Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County. Now, the City has been trying to lure residents relocated due to BRAC but in doing so would turn Baltimore into a suburb. This has been named "BRACaction" What should have been done was to relocate the closed Bases into Southeast Baltimore City/County. There's more than enough land and infrastructure if you put together unused land in Sparrows Point, Fort Holabird, Dundalk Marine Terminal, and the old Bethlehem Steel Plant to turn it into Fort right here in the City. BRAC is estimated to bring a total of about 200,000 residents to Maryland and if just half of them moved to the City, its Population would be 740,000 which is 4,000 more than Baltimore's 1990 Population. In the suburbs, Baltimore won't come near to that number.Next would have been Homeland Security. Again Baltimore has the infrastructure to support it and it went to Anne Arundel County! Looks like Janet Owens did more than give out Gift Cards to lure this Federal Agencies to her County Why wasn't she investigated? Lets not forget that the NSA is also located there. If Homeland Security located to Baltimore, the perfect place would be on the Surafce Lots known as Penn Fallsway tying Johns Hopkins Hospital to Downtown and possibly hurrying along the JFX Demolition and the construction of the Yellow Line and the Red Line and the Green Line Expansion Northeast.
Well Madame Mayor, I have set forth some ideas to help you and the City of Baltimore rediscover Downtown. I hope that's just a fraction of your agenda, after all, Baltimore is a City of Neighborhoods!