Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Expanding Station North and Filling the Midtown Donut

Baltimore is currently seeking out a Neighborhood or region to declare it as its next Arts & Entertainment District. Its two biggest candidates; Highlandtown and the Westside of Downtown haven't quite gotten off the ground like the City had hoped. They're looking for another Station North. An article in the Baltimore Sun stated that the above Neighborhoods don't have a large Artist population like Station North already did. So as Baltimore continues to look for another Station North. But riddle me this, why find a new Arts & Entertainment District when Station North can be easily expanded?
Station North can be expanded to the South into what I call the "Midtown Donut" and West into Reservoir Hill. Both these areas have yet to be rediscovered yet there are great buildings to be transferred into live/work units for Artists and Commuters alike. Master planners for the City have been picking their brains coming up with the best way to re create the area between Bolton Hill and Mount Vernon (the Donut) and Reservoir Hill.
I think with the MICA Institute and UMB Mount Royal there are numerous Artists already living nearby. Doesn't this seem like a win win? For all parties? I think so too. To perfect the situation the Neighborhood will eventually a TOD haven.
The Donut includes the following areas; McColloh Homes, State Center, The Social Security Building, and Maryland General Hospital. Maryland General Hospital is undergoing a well needed expansion so it doesn't really apply here I'm only mentioning it to give a general idea of the area in question. However, if Maryland General were to say relocate its "shell" would be put to good use.
Although the Donut will be part of the expanded Station North there isn't too much that will make for good adaptive reuse as Artist Space. The Armory Building will be the best bet for Artist Space in the Donut. Theater Space will be needed for the expanded Station North so I'm looking at the old Mayfair for new life. The State Center Buildings, McCulloh Homes, and the Social Security Buildings will all be demolished.
The State Offices will move into new higher density Buildings along with mixed income Apartments and Condos. The Apartments will be marketed towards Grad Students while the Condos will be geared towards Commuters. This new Community will be connect Mount Vernon to Bolton Hill to Heritage Crossing to Upton to Seton Hill. A feat that has yet to be accomplished. Although not technically an Arts & Entertainment District, this new Neighborhood's housing and Offices will be designed by local Artists in the area.
The Outdated Sutton House in Bolton Hill will also receive a make over courtesy of local Artists. The already existing Metro State Center Stop and the Light Rail Cultural Center Stop will service this new Community, as will the future Red Line at Heritage Crossing and Yellow Line at Penn Station.
Now we come to Reservoir Hill which will serve as a true Arts & Entertainment District to the newly expanded Station North. Its has large vacant houses that are sure a magnet for Artists to live and work in. Since the housing stock in Reservoir Hill is too elegant to demolish but too expensive to buy and renovate at Market Rate, certain subsidies will have to be made for Reservoir Hill's upswing to continue.
Since Artists live in and around Reservoir Hill it only makes sense that a good portion of its vacant housing stock be earmarked for Artist live/work space. Given the close location of both the MICA Institute and UMB Mount Royal it would seem only fitting to fit dorm rooms into the Station North expansion plan.
The struggling Madison Park North Apartments across North Avenue from Bolton Hill will be redeveloped as Dorms for the Colleges. Speaking of North Avenue, west of I-83 it's not nearly as Neighborhood oriented as it is east of I-83.
The new Spicer's Run Town Home Development in Bolton Hill turns its back on North Avenue separating Bolton Hill from Reservoir Hill. I'm hoping the new Dorms across the street and a continuation of the Artist constructed streetscape enhancements into Bolton Hill and Reservoir Hill.
Both the Midtown Donut and Reservoir Hill are past due for their day in the sun. Hopefully as an expansion of Station North and the addition of new Rail Lines, they will become Baltimore's hottest new address and the City will have more Artist space.


Occupy Terra said...

I live in Mount Vernon, a few blocks south of Maryland General Hospital, at Eutaw and Monument. Theres a ton of abandoned buildings in this area (a whole row on Madison, an entire warehouse next to me, storefronts on Howard at the Lightrail stop, a beautiful building that used to be a homeless services center that now sits abandoned with a massive flag pole hanging over Druid Hill Avenue.

I for one think this area is ripe for revitalization, all it needs is something to bring people to the area, its like 4 blocks from the Washington Monument, but the aesthetics don't feel as much like Mount Vernon.

Anonymous said...

You have good ideas, but don't take into account the current developments. The State center is in the planning of getting a huge overhaul along with the armory. Many new things are being added to the complex including shops, condo towers, and tons of renovations and demolitions. Don't forget that the projects across from Bolton Hill on North Avenue are being demolished in the near future.

Spence Lean said...

I thought the State Center redevelopment was dead until I picked the newspaper less than 12 hours after publishing this post. Apparently in this bad economy the State is going ahead with this $1Billion plus project which had been shelved. I sure picked a great time to write this post lol, at least there is development interest in the area. I wasn't aware of any intention by anyone to demolish the Madison Park North Apartments redevelopment of that crucial piece of land will hopefully bridge both Bolton Hill and Reservoir Hill together.

Mike Rolling said...

Spence, here's an article concerning the closing of Madison North.

It's sad to relocate people, but hopefully the city is moving in the right direction and will redevelop the property. In my opinion, this is the key to opening up North Ave.