Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rail Transit for Anne Arundel County

It's no secret that most of the job growth in this region is is Anne Arundel County mostly in the Fort Meade area because of BRAC. Granted I'm more than a little disappointed that this job growth isn't in Baltimore City but like most Marylanders, I'm holding out hope that long vacated Residential Neighborhoods in the City will be filled once again with this large population influx.
In order to achieve this growth for the City, Anne Arundel County needs additional Rail Transit. One might say that plenty of lines already run through Anne Arundel County. Although this is true, there are plenty of ways to expand and enhance existing lines using the Baltimore Regional Rail Plan as a guide.
No conversation about planning Rail Lines should be complete without discussing the Yellow Line. Often times I feel like I'm its lone supporter but I happen to find it crucial in supporting growth in Baltimore, Towson, Columbia and all points in between. 
(picture of Penn Station)

Right now the Yellow Line exits in its infancy as the spurs of the Central Light Rail Line from BWI to Penn Station sharing most of its route with the Central Light Rail Line. A lot of these proposed in between points are in Anne Arundel County. Currently, the "Yellow Line" ends at BWI Airport. At the very least it needs to be extended to the Amtrak/MARC Station at BWI roughly a mile away. This new stop will connect the Yellow Line with the MARC Penn Line as well as the Amtrak Line just one stop away from Penn Station. After this very important stop the Yellow Line should continue to the Baltimore Commons Business Park. This is located just north of Arundel Mills Mall, a VERY high growth area of Anne Arundel County. 
The Baltimore Commons area is experiencing plenty of growth of its own with more to come. After that, the Yellow Line will continue south for a stop at the sprawl ridden Arundel Mills Mall and Maryland Live Casino. 
This area has exploded from a rural Glen Burnie suburb to a bustling and congested shopping mecca. People come from all around the Baltimore Metropolitan Area to shop and gamble here so having a Rail Transit stop here is crucial to relieve traffic congestion. The Baltimore Regional Rail Plan calls for the Yellow Line to stop at the Dorsey MARC Station/MTA Orange Line before entering Howard County.
Personally, I think there's another station that needs to see more activity on the MARC Camden Line and that station is Jessup. Jessup is located just north of all the BRAC related growth although that can be serviced by the Savage Station. It is however located directly east of intense residential growth in Elkirdge. 
Route 1 has become very congested with TOD style high density housing but the Rail Transit that warrants this type of development isn't here yet. With that in mind I have decided to put the Yellow Line Stop at Jessup and make that stop into a full fledged station that can hold more than a dozen vehicles. After Jessup, the Yellow Line will go into Howard County ultimately ending at Columbia Town Center. I will write a post that's dedicated to the Yellow Line in Howard County at a later date. 
Now we come to the Central Light Rail Line or the Blue Line as it's also known. According to the Baltimore Regional Rail Plan, this line is complete. After all, it goes all the way from Cromwell Station to Hunt Valley! That's pretty long don't you think? Well, yes that is long but I believe it can go even further into Anne Arundel County.
 Southeast of Cromwell Station lies Glen Burnie Town Center, this early attempt at mixed use development in Glen Burnie is literally at the center of Town straddling the intersection of Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard and Crain Highway. In addition to Retail there's a small residential component along with a branch of Anne Arundel Community College and a Parking Garage. This heavily traveled corridor is the perfect location for a new Light Rail Station. 

After Glen Burnie Town Center, the Blue Line will travel under Ritchie Highway. 
It will have stops at Marley Station, Pasadena, Severna Park, Anne Arundel Community College, and Arnold. 
At the intersection of Ritchie Highway and John Hanson Highway, the Blue Line will branch off into two directions.
One will end at Annapolis Mall while the other will end at Downtown Annapolis. Annapolis should be the ultimate destination of the Blue Line. Annapolis to Hunt Valley imagine the traffic relief with a line that long. 
Now we come to the Purple Line, which is actually a localized MARC Penn Line. Non MARC Stops include Sandtown, Fredrick Avenue, Rosedale, Rossville in Baltimore City and County. This line will meet the extended Yellow Line at the BWI Amtrak/MARC Station. While in Anne Arundel County this line runs roughly parallel to Telegraph Road. Telegraph Road runs right through Severn, a mostly residential town that is right in between Arundel Mills and Fort Meade. Needless to say, given Severn's location, it has seen unprecedented growth with more surely to come. 
Reece Road at Old Meade Camp Road is my proposed location for a "Non MARC" Severn Station. This station would be smaller in comparison to say that of Arundel Mills because Severn is so residential. That being said, Residents living off of Telegraph Road, Reece Road, New Disney Road, Harmans Road, and Severn Road would be very well served by having a Rail Stop so close to home.
The end of the Purple Line's jurisdiction will be at the Odenton MARC Station. Odenton has also experienced major growth over the last 20 years with the construction of Piney Orchard and now the development of a Town Center. The existing MARC Station is strategically located right in between the two new developments and right where Town Center Boulevard is slated to meet Route 175. 
Given how much growth Anne Arundel County is experiencing, it's only right that the Baltimore Regional Rail Plan update itself to reflect this growth. Rail Transit only succeeds when there are stops at all or almost all populated places. If only highway expansion project funds were diverted into Mass Transit.       

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It All Started on Fulton Avenue

When discussing streets that are crucial to Old West Baltimore and its history, it would be criminal not to mention Fulton Avenue. Given that I like to stay on the right side of the law, and that I find Fulton Avenue and its history so fascinating, not only will I "mention" it but I'm dedicating a whole post. I'm going to say it right now, I don't want any more structures on Fulton Avenue to be torn down. What better way to end my series on Old West Baltimore with a plea for preservation?
When Baltimore's Black Population swelled from the beginning of the great migration beginning at the turn of the 20th Century, the City decided to erect strict boundaries of where Blacks could live. The result was two districts (one in West Baltimore the other in East Baltimore) where "colored housing" was permitted. The area in West Baltimore became what is now known as Old West Baltimore. Before the boundaries were drawn, the area was predominantly Black already and although Whites did have the option of staying in Old West Baltimore, they waived that right. The boundaries of Old West Baltimore were Eutaw Place to the east, Baltimore St. to the south, North Avenue to the north, and Fulton Avenue to the west. Thus Old West Baltimore was born.
South and east of West Baltimore's Black Neighborhoods in Bolton Hill and Hollins Market, there are still relatively large White Populations living there which makes the significance of Fulton Avenue that much greater. It seems that most migration by Whites of all income levels went west of Fulton Avenue. Working class Whites remained just west of Fulton Avenue in what is today known as Greenlawn and Midtown Edmondson while more middle class Whites opted for new "Daylight" Row Houses being built in Edmondson Village. Jews in the area were still quite restricted as to where they could move. Although they left Old West Baltimore, they took a more northwest route to Easterwood Park, Mondawmin, Penn North, and eventually to Park Heights and Forest Park. For the first half of the 20th century the western border of Baltimore's Black Ghetto remained uncrossed. But it all started on Fulton Avenue.
By 1950, the White and Jewish Neighborhoods directly west of Fulton Avenue had begun to lose population as suburban housing became more available to Whites of all income levels. Baltimore's Black Population had grown many times over due to the continuation of the great migration and Soldiers returning from World War II. However, the boundaries of Baltimore's Black Neighborhoods did not budge. This resulted in serious over crowding and unsanitary living conditions east of Fulton Avenue. Then one day in 1950, a Black Family moved into a house on the western side of Fulton Avenue and what followed was a demographic shift so dramatic and so fast that it defies logic. And it all started on Fulton Avenue
Once that first Black Family moved across Fulton Avenue, Baltimore turned into a chess board. Those playing chess were Real Estate agents saw an opportunity to placate on the fears of the still segregated Neighborhoods. At that point, Whites did not want integration but Blacks could not continue living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions that was the order of the day in Old West    
Baltimore. As a result, blockbusting occurred and within 20 years all of the Neighborhoods west and northwest of Old West Baltimore went from completely White to completely Black. And it all started with that first family crossing Fulton Avenue. Would this have happened without blockbusters? Yes, but I think it wouldn't have happened so fast and Whites wouldn't have felt the urgency to sell low and Blacks could have payed the same price for a house that Whites pay. Blockbusters became VERY rich due to these circumstances. And it all started on Fulton Avenue.
Today Fulton Avenue has seen better days. There are boarded up row homes and vacant trash ridden lots throughout. However, it is far from the worst street in Old West Baltimore. Given that Fulton Avenue was ground zero in the rewrite of Baltimore's Demographics I believe it should be designated as an Historic landmark. One great event on Fulton Avenue was the restoration of the median that was the actual demarcation line between the White and Black Neighborhoods. Fulton Avenue's row homes must be rehabbed rather than demolished. There will be new housing but that will be built because homes were already demolished. I'm issuing an order that no further housing be demolished New housing will be held to the same architectural standards as existing homes so that new housing and existing housing can not distinguished from one another. 
It all started on Fulton Avenue, had that first Black Family not crossed the median who knows how history will have played out? Well, it's safe to say that Baltimore's Black Neighborhoods will have expanded and these once White Neighborhoods would have eventually become Black Neighborhoods but could the migration have gone east into Bolton Hill? Or south into Hollins Market? Who knows? One thing we do know is the facts and the fact is, it all started on Fulton Avenue. And that concludes my series on Old West Baltimore  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sandtown Winchester: A Tale of Two Cities

Since the mid 1990s, Sandtown Winchester or "Sandtown" for short has been something of a "Tale of two Cities" on the one hand, there are the new and rehabbed homes brought to us by the Enterprise Foundation located mostly in the Neighborhood's eastern edges. However, there's the rest of the Neighborhood that includes Gilmor Homes and distressed homes between Gilmor Homes and Monroe St. the Neighborhoods western border. As I continue my ongoing series on Old West Baltimore, I'm going to attempt to unify Sandtown and make the whole Neighborhood as sought after as the section that's been redeveloped by the Enterprise Foundation. 
Like all of Old West Baltimore, the latter half of the 20th Century was not kind to Sandtown. As "second hand Suburbs" such as Edmondson Village and Park Heights became available to Black Residents via blockbusting, the overcrowded Sandtown emptied as Residents who could afford it relocated. This left Sandtown in shambles as close to half of its housing stock became condemned and boarded up with no end in sight. Residents left behind in Sandtown lived in extreme poverty with a deteriorating housing stock and a City that was too broke to provide them the essential services they needed.
Enter Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, given the success he saw with redeveloping Charles Center and the Inner Harbor (pictured above), he thought why not Sandtown? This marked the first time, that serious reinvestment money was being devoted to an Inner City Neighborhood not located by the Harbor. Given the City's financial woes, Mayor Schmoke needed some series financial backing from the private sector. This is where the Enterprise Foundation comes in. After Jim Rouse retired from the Rouse Company (his name should sound familiar from his involvement in Charles Center and Harbor Place) he formed the Enterprise Foundation, a charity that provides affordable housing to Residents and Communities in need. Obviously, Sandtown qualified for this. 
The result was a joint venture between the Enterprise Foundation and Nehemiah Homes. Nehemiah Homes agreed to demolish 210 dilapidated homes in Sandtown and rebuild with brand new affordable homes for purchase where the demolished homes once stood. Ryland Homes acted as the builder and in order to speed up the progress they opted to use modular homes. Despite Sandtown's reputation for crime and drugs, these homes sold faster than they could be built. Why? Because there wasn't anywhere else where somebody whose income was $11,000 could buy a house. Now just any house, a brand new town house with three bedrooms, two baths, full Kitchen, and central air. In short, they were selling dream homes and in this case the three rules of home buying; location location location appeared not to apply. 
It's been about 20 years since the first Home Owners moved into their homes and one question the Schmoke Administration wondered was;  Could this project and ones like it produce long term positive results? Well given the appearance and general mood in the redeveloped area of Sandtown I'm going to say yes. These new homes are immaculate, with manicured lawns, white picket fences, window treatments, shudders, planted trees, and not a single new home is boarded up. The pride of home ownership is a wonderful thing and it appears that the Owners of these new homes have discovered this. 
Now don't get me wrong, I don't like everything single nuance about the homes in Sandtown. I believe that all involved parties had hoped that their success would spread like wild fire into existing parts of Old West Baltimore like it did in the Harbor. Obviously this has not happened and the only real additional success stories in Old West Baltimore come from other large redevelopment projects.  I also find these new homes to be very plain and lacking of character. This is no real surprise considering they were modular homes sold to moderate income buyers.
Now like I said at the beginning of this post and in the title, Sandtown is a tale of two Cities. Roughly two thirds of the housing stock is old, dilapidated, vacant, and crime infested. I also said that new housing hasn't spurred much reinvestment in the Community at large and I think I know why. I think there's a lot more new housing in Baltimore City today than there was in the 1990s that isn't near a large segregated public housing development (Gilmor Homes) Albemarle Square, Broadway Overlook, and the Hopkins Biotech Park provide affordable housing alternatives that are perceived to be much safer than anything in old Sandtown. I think you know where this is going. It's time that Gilmor Homes be redeveloped. 
One thing I have always championed in this blog was for the discontinuation of large concentrated islands of Public Housing. Instead I would like to give assistance to Residents currently in Public Housing who are upwardly mobile (in School or Entry Level Jobs) become home owners. Gilmor Homes has been the site of multiple shootings throughout the years and a very violent drug gang that with dozens of members that terrorized Gilmor Homes. These dealers have since been arrested so I think now is the best time to redevelop Gilmor Homes as new Town Homes with a mix of incomes that offer the opportunity of Home Ownership for moderate income Residents who wouldn't have had the opportunity otherwise. There will still be a public housing building but that will be for Seniors only. It will include a mix of independent and assisted living options.
Like I said earlier, I think the current new housing in Sandtown is very plain and bland. When redeveloping Gilmor Homes, I think the new town homes in its place should have a lot more character. I believe new homes throughout Broadway Overlook, Albemarle Square (pictured above), and Greektown's Athena Square be used as models for more attractive new housing in Sandtown.
Now we come to the housing at the western edge of Sandtown. There are a lot of boarded vacants here as well as homes that have been demolished with nothing but overgrown vacant lots in their place. I don't want Sandtown to be nothing but new housing so I want all of these vacants to be rehabbed and sold. Personally, I think that with Gilmor Homes redeveloped the market for a rehabbed or "vacant shell" in Sandtown will increase. I had said that the growth spurred by the Nehemiah Homes of the 1990s hasn't spread like similar tactics had in the Harbor. Well I think the problem was Gilmor Homes and if they're redeveloped and a new thriving development with a high percentage of Owner Occupied Homes, I think ALL of Sandtown will then turn a corner. 
Since the 1990s, Sandtown has been a Tale of Two Cities; It's time that we unify the whole Neighborhood as a mixed income (like the one pictured above) haven that it was in its heyday, it can only hope help the rest of Old West Baltimore by doing so.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Upton: Bottoms Up!

 Continuing with my series on Old West Baltimore, it's time on moved on to Upton. I guess you can say my last post on Pennsylvania Avenue was on Upton but Upton is an entire Neighborhood and Pennsylvania Avenue is just one street. The two go hand and hand; Pennsylvania Avenue can't come back if the Neighborhood of Upton doesn't come back and the Neighborhood of Upton can't come back if Pennsylvania Avenue doesn't. With synergy created from both Heritage Crossing and the proposed State Center redevelopment the reinvestment and redevelopment of Upton should start from the "bottom" and work its way up.
It's not uncommon for Retail and Residential projects to work hand and hand in achieving a common goal. I believe that the homesteading in Otterbein (pictured above) played a key role in the come back of the Inner Harbor. Sure, Harbor Place could have been successful as a Tourist and Retail Destination on its own but in terms of making it a hot spot for Residential Growth, Otterbein was ground zero which created a ripple effect from Federal Hill to Station North to Canton to Pigtown. With Upton, I'd like to think of Pennsylvania Avenue as Harbor Place and Heritage Crossing as Otterbein. Not that I want Upton to turn into an exclusive over-priced yuppie area, but the model used for the Harbor produced one thing that Upton needs and doesn't have; Population Growth.
Just like with any Neighborhood Upton has its own unique set of assets and challenges. So when deciding on how to move forward with a development oriented Master Plan for Upton, one must look at both a come up with a solution that highlights the assets and does its best to eradicate the problem areas. With that in mind, I have created three zones (excluding Pennsylvania Avenue) for Upton. First there's the "Preservation Zone" then there's the "Reinvestment/ Cluster Redevelopment Zone" and finally "The Major Redevelopment Zone.
First lets start with the Preservation Zone. It's quite obvious that the Preservation Zone includes Marble Hill. Marble Hill is the locally recognized Historic Preservation Zone for the northeastern edge of Upton as well as Madison Park. The name Marble Hill comes from the fact that the Grandiose Row House Mansions have marble front steps. In addition these homes have some of Baltimore's most beautiful architecture and it hasn't been spoiled by ill fated 1970s "urban renewal" attempts. Baltimore's Black Elite occupied this area centered along Druid Hill Avenue and McCullough St. in fact the first house purchased in Old West Baltimore was located on McCullough St. in Marble Hill as is Thurgood Marshall's birth house. In addition to Residences, Marble Hill also housed Offices for Black Lawyers, Doctors, and Entrepreneurs. Although Marble Hill's Historic Designation is confined to the northern blocks of Druid Hill Avenue and McCullough St. I'm making the Preservation Zone from Dolphin St. to Laurens St. Despite being the area of Upton with the fewest vacants, Marble Hill does have some boarded up Row Homes. However, the Preservation Zone is just what the name suggests; absolutely no building in this area may be demolished. I think as Bolton Hill's popularity continues to make Madison Park an up & coming area, Marble Hill may not be far behind it.
Next we have the Reinvestment/Cluster Redevelopment Zone. This, like the Preservation Zone will focus on rehabbing existing homes. However, if a row of homes is too far gone to rehab demolition would not be the end of the world. This zone is located between Dwuid Hill Avenue ad Pennsylvania Avenue. The goal here is to minimize relocation of existing Residents. This area has more vacants than Marble Hill but isn't the worst in Upton. Even if every home still standing in the Reinvestment/Cluster Redevelopment Zone is rehabbed and saved, there will be new construction here. There are vacant lots in this area from previous demolitions which will make room for new construction. New construction will look exactly like the existing Row Homes in the area. In fact, some of the new construction might be attached to existing homes to create a truly streamlined look between old and new. 
The last zone of Upton is the worst. So it's only fitting that it be called the Major Redevelopment Zone. Here is where the homes are mostly vacated there has also been lots of demolition already making the area a ghost town. On the flip side this is the greatest opportunity to give Upton a face lift with a huge area of new housing and new housing types. It's also adjacent to Heritage Crossing, a proven success. The redevelopment area will stretch from Pennsylvania Avenue to Fremont Avenue to Harlem Avenue to Mosher St. Town Homes and Apartments will be built like those found in Boradway Overlook, Orchard Ridge and Albemarle Square. These will be majority Home Ownership some of which will offer Home Ownership subsidies. The southern part of the 800 block of Edmondson Avenue will be redeveloped as a low to mid rise Public Housing Senior Building not unlike those recently built in Harlem Park.
There are those who think Old West Baltimore is too far gone to see redevelopment and population growth. I disagree with those people because I feel a synergy that's being created from the State Center Redevelopment and Heritage Crossing that will allow Upton to grow from the bottom up.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pennsylvania Aveune: We All Want the Same Thing

In its heyday Pennsylvania Avenue was the epicenter of Baltimore's Black Community. Anchored by the Avenue Market, the Royal Theater and the Sphinx Theater as well as countless Jazz Clubs, Restaurants, and Doctors' Offices. The surrounding area known as Old West Baltimore was a true mixed income community with the well to do Residents living in the Marble Hill area while working class Residents living closer to Downtown in what was known as the bottom. Obviously, Pennsylvania Avenue and Old West Baltimore have fallen on hard times during the past several decades but I can say with certainty that everybody wants the same thing for Pennsylvania Avenue; for it to be restored as an ares that is draw for the entire Baltimore area as a cultural haven for the Black Community Past, Present, and Future, for a revitalized Pennsylvania Avenue to act as a catalyst for population growth in Old West Baltimore as a whole, and to eradicate the crime and drugs that have plagued the area for far too long.
The downfall of Pennsylvania Avenue and all of Old West Baltimore for that matter was over crowding. As Baltimore's Black Population grew during the great migration, the amount of land in which they were allowed to live in remained the same. Larger houses were divided into apartments and in areas where public housing high rises would later be built, slum conditions began to appear. As the white flight to the suburbs began, the City Neighborhoods that Whites lived in were emptied and then Blacks, who could afford it moved in. This left only poor Blacks in Old West Baltimore and "urban renewal" efforts such as erecting public housing high rises such as McCulloh Homes and Murphy Homes as a means of slum elimination failed drastically. One by one businesses began leaving Pennsylvania Avenue leaving this once cultural mecca virtually abandoned. The good news is, there are signs of hope popping up throughout Pennsylvania Avenue that may signal a larger scale renewal of the area.
First is Heritage Crossing. Heritage Crossing was built on the site of the demolished Murphy Homes. These new Town Homes are a welcome addition to the Community and have provided a solid home ownership base for the area as a large portion of the homes are Market Rate Home Ownership. 
Next we have Bakers View, a Town Home Community in Druid Heights that's selling like Hot Cakes. These Town Homes have a starting price of $169,000 with some of them being set aside for affordable home ownership. Some of Bakers View has actual Pennsylvania Avenue frontage. Like Heritage Crossing, Bakers View is turning out to be a suburban oasis in the middle of a desert of urban decay.
Photo From City Paper
Next there is the Avenue Bakery. This may seem small but the fact that an independent business was willing to build a new building along Pennsylvania Avenue and plant a seed in the ground the way the Avenue Bakery has is huge. In fact Owner James Hamlin loves to say "It's not just about the Rolls" a big reason Mr. Hamlin has decided to build and open his Bakery that is also a a great spot for Breakfast and Brunch on Pennsylvania Avenue versus another part of town is because he's dedicated to being part of Pennsylvania Avenue's rebirth. If every vacant storefront on Pennsylvania Avenue had an entrepreneur like James Hamlin readying to invest in it, Pennsylvania Avenue would be the most sought after address in the City.
Photo From Biz
Next there's the redevelopment of the Sphinx Theater. The site of the Sphinx is set to become a Baltimore land mark once again, this time as a Sports Museum for Black Athletes. Like the Avenue Bakery this is a tremendous commitment to bringing life back to Pennsylvania Avenue from other parts of the area. Museums represent a proud history and that is something that Pennsylvania Avenue has and the more people know it, the better. It would have been great to have the Great Blacks in Wax Museum and the African American History Museum on the Avenue instead of their current locations. Another Museum that should open along the Avenue could be a Museum of Black Music. 
Another great sign that Pennsylvania Avenue is poised for a turn around is that there are murals and monuments all over the place. This proves that Residents, Politicians, and everyone in between know the significance of Pennsylvania Avenue and all the history that goes along with it. There's the Royal Theater Marquis that's been rebuilt, the Billie Holiday Statue, and countless Murals on Buildings. The Murals show that the area has a flourishing Arts Community and these talented Artists should be the cornerstone of Pennsylvania Avenue's rebirth. Another way to bring the Avenue's history to life could be something along the lines of the "Hollywood Walk of Fame."
Now that I've told you the many ways Pennsylvania Avenue is beginning to show signs of life it's time to take it a step further by giving everybody what they all want; An Avenue that's once again the epicenter of the Black Community in Baltimore while at the same time drawing other parts of the City to the Avenue to eat great food, hear great music, and see great exhibits. 
The first thing to do would be to redevelop Upton Courts, at least the part that has Pennsylvania Avenue frontage. This ill fated urban renewal attempt has robbed the Avenue of opportunities to expand Retail uses and takes away from the character that the 1890s architecture provides to other parts of the Avenue. In the place of the portion of Upton Courts with Avenue Frontage will be Apartments and Condos with ground floor Retail/ Entertainment that bare the same Architecture as the original buildings that line the Avenue.          
Next we must rebuild the Royal Theater for a new generation. The Royal was the crown and jewel of Pennsylvania and all of Old West Baltimore and I think in order for the Avenue to come back strong, the Royal has to be there to anchor it. The Royal will be just one of many first run theaters and clubs that will pop along the Avenue in the future to bring back the Community that abandoned it decades earlier. Behind the Royal is what is currently Robert C. Marshall Park. Right now the park is just grass, I'd like to see it turned into a Public Square, like that found in Union Square. This new public square will be renamed "Upton Square  complete with trees, benches, and picnic space. 
New Buildings will be built, but with the exception of Upton Courts, no further buildings with Avenue frontage will be torn down. Pennsylvania Avenue is an historic district whose buildings bring out that history. If everything were new, the magic would be harder to recapture. Now there are some buildings that aren't original but will not be torn down because they serve the Community so well. such as the Upton Boxing Center, Shake & Bake Family Fun Center, and the YWCA.
A huge concern regarding the Avenue is security. There is a lot of crime that plagues the area and that has to change before Businesses and Customers alike begin flocking back in droves. This may not eradicate crime in any way but removing barred glass from windows and doors of Retail establishments will create the illusion of safety. Around the Harbor, Cops ride around on Bikes as well as foot patrols. This same kind of "face to face" Law Enforcement will help to ensure the safety of everybody around the Avenue.
Yes I can say with complete confidence that everybody wants the same thing when it comes to Pennsylvania Avenue; for it to be the epicenter of Baltimore's Black Community just like it was in its heyday and to foster population growth all around Old West Baltimore. Now it's time to get what we want.