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.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Old West Baltimore: A Series of Reinvestment and Growth

Old West Baltimore (Harlem Park, Upton, Sandtown Winchester, Madison Park, and Druid Heights) must be the bygone and left behind area of the City. Yet at the same time, it's one of the most history packed and potential packed areas of the City. Somebody just has to remind everybody how great this area was and how great it could be. Obviously one post can't cover all of Old West Baltimore which is why I'm going to do a series highlighting certain areas and how they can be reinvested in which will bring down the crime rate and bring Population Growth to an area of the City that has been losing Population for close to half a century.
Recently, before I had the idea to do this series I wrote a post on Harlem Park, below is that post and there will be more to come concerning Old West Baltimore. Enjoy!

Harlem Park: Don't Wait for the Red Line

There are some parts of Old West Baltimore that have seen lots of reinvestment and redevelopment on both the public and private sectors. They include Upton's Marble Hill District, Druid Heights, and the eastern edge of Sandtown Winchester, and Heritage Crossing. On the flip side there are areas that have not seen much in the way investment including the western edge of Sandtown Winchester, Upton that isn't the Marble Hill District, and Harlem Park. Although Upton and western Sandtown do require a lot of work I will discuss them in the future, today is all about Harlem Park.
 Harlem Park's biggest problem is population loss. It seems as though if Residents want to live somewhere else they simply move away rather than try to put down roots and improve the Neighborhood. As of the 2010 census Harlem Park is about 45% vacant. When I say that vacancy and population loss is the biggest problem that Harlem Park faces I open a HUGE can of worms as to why the population has dropped so dramatically but how can Harlem Park begin to experience growth if we don't get to the root of the problem?
 There may be a small glimmer of hope for Harlem Park. The redevelopment of the West Baltimore MARC Station shows the southern border of Harlem Park slated for redevelopment as the Red Line construction begins TOD make eventually take Harlem Park by storm but that could take years, personally I think Harlem Park should a draw on its own.
 As I'm sure you're aware, Harlem Park wasn't always in bad shape, in fact it was once one of Baltimore's finest Gentlemen's Communities housing some of Baltimore's business elite most of the year except for the summer when a large portion of Residents left the City for their summer homes. At the turn of the 19th/20th century, the mostly White German Neighborhood of Harlem Park began to see White Flight both to the west where Neighborhoods such as Easterwood Park and Rosemont were in their infancy or to the north where the Roland Park Company was building large estate homes in what would eventually be Guilford, Homeland, Original Northwood, and the titular Roland Park. 
 Although White Flight was in full swing before the start of World War I, Harlem Park was still thought of as an elite Gentlemen's Community only now it was becoming home to Baltimore's Black elite. Although new Black Residents were paying a pretty penny for their new homes perhaps more than a comparable home in a White Neighborhood would fetch, I wouldn't call this "blockbusting" since there were no corrupt Realtors trying to make a quick buck off of White fears and the lack of housing options in the Black Community. 
 By the roaring 20s Harlem Park (as did all of old West Baltimore) had turned into a mixed income Black Community with wealthier Residents living in the grand row house mansions while Residents who were more working class took residence in the "alley homes." Pennsylvania Avenue served as a Downtown Area for Old West Baltimore as a whole featuring the City's best Jazz Clubs and Movie Houses. 
 By the 1930s the Great Depression had taken its toll on Harlem Park, there were fewer and fewer well to do Residents as they had either moved west beyond Fulton Avenue into the Easterwood Park and Rosemont Area (white Residents from there were moving to Edmondson Village) or the depression had taken its toll and Residents who used to be more well to do had become poor. 
 After World War II, the White flight to the suburbs and the subsequent Black repopulating of White Neighborhoods on the outskirts of the City was in full force. Since Harlem Park is not and hasn't been on the outskirts of the City for decades, its population was beginning to thin out as there was no real source in which a new population influx could be found. Another blow for the Neighborhood was what was then called "slum elimination" which was actually the erection of the notorious public housing high rises of Murphy Homes and Lexington Terrace.
 Slum elimination can come in many forms, in the 1950s and 60s it came in the form of Interstate Construction. I feel bad calling it "slum elimination" because to construct the "interstate" that effects Harlem Park it wasn't slums that were eliminated. It was working class and middle class homes between Franklin and Mulberry Sts. The Home Owners who lived where the proposed interstate was going were given very little for their homes and given that so many people's net worth is wrapped up in their homes, the once middle class Residents became poor thanks to this supposed "miracle interstate."
 This "interstate" turned out to be a curse, it was supposed to connect to I-70 when it was extended into Leakin Park to meet I-95, the spur near Harlem Park would connect I-70 to Downtown. Harlem Park at the time was hanging on a delicate balance between minimal blight and turning into a major slum. This "interstate" was the final nail in the coffin not only for Harlem Park but Old West Baltimore as a whole. To add insult to injury, the connection was never completed thus making what was built complete useless, this "I-170" is what's known as today's "Road to Nowhere."     
 Today the damage done by generations of poverty and poor policy planning have taken their toll. Harlem Park's vacancy rate as of the 2010 census is 45% which doesn't include all the vacant lots providing eye sores and a hot bed for trash. It's no secret that Harlem Park is suffering and the City is letting it go to the dogs as a Neighborhood that can't be saved. Me? I have yet to find a Neighborhood that isn't worth saving. It's time for Harlem Park to see its day in the sun.
 Lets keep in mind that as part of the Red Line construction there is a proposal for redevelopment of the Neighborhood's southern borders with high density Apartments or Condos or TOD if you will. Given how often the Red Line is tweaked and with funding and construction dates constantly being delayed, I'm not holding my breath for progress on that front. Even so, Harlem Park is an entire Neighborhood that needs help, and doesn't start and stop at the Red Line. I would also like to point out that as the title suggests, I want Harlem Park to be a draw on its own.
 When creating a Master Plan the first thing to do is draw on the Neighborhood's strengths. Other than the obvious (close to the proposed Red Line) I can think of two others; first the "block parks" and the new Senior Apartments recently built. Most if not all square blocks in Harlem Park have parks behind the Row Homes. Although they've become a liability as they've become littered with trash and drug litter. I think that these block parks can be an asset once again. Neighborhood Residents can reclaim control by planting flower gardens and vegetable gardens that could be sold at Farmers Markets. Also there have been two brand new Senior Apartment developments known as Edmondson Commons and Harlem Park Gardens. These two developments have been a great help in Seniors in the area on fixed income find clean affordable housing that meets their needs. These two success stories can be used as building blocks for reinvestment and redevelopment in the Neighborhood. Properties around these development should be first thus allowing new housing and rehabbed housing to spread like wildfires.
 I can't describe the strengths of Harlem Park without discussing its weaknesses too. Harlem Park has a fleeting population, problems with drug addiction, high crime, high unemployment, lack of quality retail, and a lack of constant City Services. I think a decent portion of these problems can be reduced if not solved by investing in the Neighborhood's housing stock a la Sandtown Winchester. Sandtown has seen a good amount of redevelopment and reinvestment in its housing stock with help from the Enterprise Foundation. The benefits are contained only within the effected areas. It hasn't had the domino effect people would have liked but that just means that other areas need that same intervention.
 Harlem Park is due for that very same attention and I think it will spur growth by all stretches of the imagination. One great thing about the Enterprise Foundation is that it employed existing Residents to build the new homes which provided jobs to the Community. Baltimore has a large amount of unemployed construction worker, an issue I came head to head with while helping a gentlemen run for City Council last summer. Sure, there are lots of development projects in the works across the City but they have snubbed the local Construction Unions by bringing in outside workers. This will not be allowed when rebuilding Harlem Park, Harlem Park will be a local grass roots efforts from start to finish. This will also allow for Job Training for those looking to learn the construction trade. New and rehabbed homes and the jobs they bring may solve other problems that Harlem Park suffers. Crime and drug addiction thrive in poor Neighborhoods where there are a lot of vacants and a lot of Residents are unemployed. With Residents at work and new Residents moving in who are also employed, the drug trade and the crime it comes with be dealt a major blow.
 We've seen how Sandtown & Marble Hill can benefit from large investments in the housing stock which in return brings jobs to the Neighborhood, Improves the appearance of the Neighborhood, and can help erode crime from the rehabbed and redeveloped blocks. Now it's time for Harlem Park to benefit the same way, everybody knows it's overdue.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Walther Avenue Streetscape Enhancements

  In the City's northeastern corner, one will find Walther Avenue. Walther Avenue holds significance as one of Baltimore's first roads designed as a "grand suburban Boulevard" with wide expansive lanes and a large median dividing each direction of traffic. When annexed by the City in 1918 Walther Avenue was just beginning to be developed and when it reached build out it didn't and doesn't look any different from the Suburbs in the County everybody was moving to. Today Walther Avenue, though located in the City is all suburb. The road itself and the infrastructure is showing its age and this post will be dedicated to making Walther Avenue streetscape as beautiful and eye popping as the show case homes located on it.
There has been a nationwide trend of repopulating suburbs that are on the edge of a City. Walther Avenue is no different. Most of the Neighborhoods locating along it have experienced population growth in the past decade. Considering that Baltimore as a whole lost between 25,000 and 30,000 Residents in that same time period for Walther Aveune to post population growth shows that area is sought after. The though behind areas like Walther Avenue gaining population is due to the fact that they're very close to highways and Downtown but the Neighborhood itself is very green, quiet, and expansive.
The majority of homes along Walther Avenue are Single Family Detached with some duplexes and few Row Homes and Apartments mostly located on the northern end of the street. The homes on Walther Avenue have fared much better than those in say, Forest Park which was built around the same time for a variety of reasons. First, the homes on Walther Avenue are smaller which makes them less expensive to maintain and that makes it less feasible for them to be turned into group homes which tends to have a blighting influence on the Neighborhood. Home Owners are looking for a Neighborhood with Single Family Dwellings that are owner occupied, something that Walther Avenue has and Forest Park is losing out on. Also the homes on Walther Avenue although compact have a lot of the character and design details found on sprawling Estate Mansions.    
As Neighborhoods age, home owners take great care to keep their homes in great shape both inside and out, if they don't the Neighborhood becomes blighted and that leads to a slew of problems that over time become harder and harder to solve. In addition
to private home owners having to step up to the plate, so does the City. In a City that's as financially strapped as Baltimore that's easier said than done. This is where Walther Avenue could use some help. The road itself needs to be repaved and striped, the sidewalks need to be retrofitted, the median could use more flowers and shruberry,  there aren't enough street lights and the traffic signals look old and weathered.
In recent years wider roads like Walther Avenue have gotten streetscape enhancements or money has been budgeted for roads to get them in the future. These include roads include but aren't limited to; Charles St. in Mount Vernon and Station North (pictured above), Northern Parkway between Reisterstown Road and Roland Avenue, Reisterstown Road and Park Heights Avenue above Northern Parkway and Harford Road in the Lauraville and Hamilton Commercial Districts (pictured below). It should be noted that Harford Road is the Commercial Drag that serves Walther Avenue as well.
Walther Avenue is a long road so doing the streetscape enhancements all at once would be a bit daunting. That's why I have decided to break up the work into four phases the first of which will stretch from Harford Road to Moravia Road. This will go through the historic Neighborhoods of Arcadia and Beverly Hills. The traffic signals at Parkside Drive and Moravia Road will be replaced with  moder ones that feature "count down" pedestrian signals and brick crosswalks. Once above Herring Run Park Walther Avenue should be narrowed down to one lane in each direction with the extra lane reserved for on street parking and a dedicated bike lane. In every phase, the street lights will be replaced with newer modern looking ones. 
The second phase goes through the Neighborhoods of Moravia Walther and Waltherson. Waltherson percentage wise was one of the City's largest gainers in population outside of Downtown. The boundaries of Phase II will be from Moravia Road to Frankford Avenue. Between Echodale and Frankford Avenues, Walther Avenue widens to three lanes. This will be narrowed down to two lanes as part of the goal to make room for more on street parking and dedicated bike lanes. The traffic signals at Echodale Avenue and Frankford Avenues will be replaced in this face. The median will also be enhanced with additional flowers and shruberry. This may be a good place to encourage Residents to plant vegetable gardens of their own. 
The third phase runs between Frankford and Glenmore Avenues in the Glenham Blehar Neighborhood which also reported a loarge population gain. This part of Walther Avenue is where the pavement is in the worst shape and in come parts, the median has no landscaping whatsoever. Obviously this will be remedied by the streetscape enhancement project. The traffic signals at Hamilton, White, and Glenmore Avenues will be replaced in this phase. Also given that this section of Walther Avenue has Glenmount Elementary/Middle and Brudick Park, care should be taken to reduce speed given the high pedestrian activity here. Traffic calming such as "chokers" at crosswalks can help in Drivers reducing speed.
The fourth and final phase of the Walther Avenue streetscape enhancements runs from Glenmore Avenue to Northern Parkway in the Rosemont East Neighborhood. This is the part of Walther Avenue that has the highest amount of Apartments and Row Homes. This also has the only Commercial Building along Walther Avenue which is a Family Dollar. The traffic signal at Northern Parkway will be replaced during this phase. Again Walther Avenue will be narrowed to two lanes in each direction from three in order to provide on street parking and a dedicated bike lane. Walther Avenue ends at Northern Parkway in the Overlea and North Harford Road Neighborhoods both of which gained population in the last 10 years.
In the far northeastern corner of Baltimore lies Walther Avenue, a grand suburban boulevard with beautifully maintained homes and lawns. If given a streetscape enhancements, Walther Avenue will truly be eye popping. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cherry Hill: A Development Oriented Master Plan

Photo from the New York Times
 In 2008 Baltimore released the long awaited Master Plan for the Cherry Hill Community. It addressed issues such as Youth Groups, Education, Senior Services, Shopping at the Town Center, Public Health, and Voter Turnout. One thing that isn't discussed in great detail is the pressing need to redevelop parts of the Neighborhood to help integrate it into the urban fabric of Baltimore. It's mentioned a little bit, just glossed over a little bit. It does mention crime a little bit but it doesn't talk about how Cherry Hill's distressed Public Housing and lack of Home Ownership are at the forefront of crime. Although every issue that I mentioned above is very important to the overall health of Cherry Hill, redevelopment in certain areas is crucial and I would like to take this time present a Master Plan of my own to address redevelopment and hopefully eradicate crime and poverty.
Photo From Cherry Hill Master Plan
Now there has been some great reinvestment in Cherry Hill that is right on par with how I would to proceed further with redevelopment plans. The Landex Company at the turn of the century took the original 320 World War II Barracks which were in a state of disrepair, demolished 68 of them and then took the remaining 252 apartments and made them into 126 three and four bedroom Town Homes. These Town Homes are great way to build personal equity and wealth because those who qualify can rent to own. The plan I will be putting forth is very big on converting qualified renters who are existing Cherry Hill Residents into home owners. 
Photo From Google Earth
The land on which the demolished Barracks once stood, new Town Homes with garages were built as market rate Home Ownership Units. The only issue I take with this development is that the home ownership and rentals are clearly differentiated which in a true mixed income Community the circumstances of the Residents are shown by the type of home they live in.
Photo From Google Earth
Now there is some confusion regarding Cherry Hill that I would like to clear up. Cherry Hill and Cherry Hill Homes are not the same thing. Cherry Hill Homes is a Public Housing Development that skirts the edge of the Neighborhood and is easy accessible to the Light Rail Station and as a result Patapsco Avenue. Much of the crime in Cherry Hill appears to be associated with Cherry Hill Homes. There are currently 1394 units of this sprawling development which is a mixture of Garden Apartments and Town Homes. I believe that Cherry Hill as a whole can make a turn around if a significant portion of Cherry Hill Homes were redeveloped.
Photo From Cherry Hill Master Plan
The rest of Cherry Hill is a mixture of Apartment Complexes (Cherrydale, The Communities of Middle Branch Manor) the revitalized Barracks (River Front Town Homes) and privately owned "classic" Baltimore Row Homes. This is the Cherry Hill that doesn't make head lines because it's relatively safe and isn't poverty stricken and in distressed condition like the Cherry Hill Homes development.  
Photo From Cherry Hill Master Plan
Also in Cherry Hill there are a good number of amenities such as the Aquatic Center and Splash Park, South Baltimore Health Center, Harbor Hospital, The Gwynns Falls Trail, Light Rail Access, Middle Branch Park, a Town Center, Cherry Hill Park, Southern Community Action Center, Baltimore Rowing Club, Middle Branch Marina, as well as great views of Downtown. A community with amenities such as these should be a magnet for Young Professionals, and Families of all ages and income levels. The rents should mirror that of Inner Harbor East while the price of a Row Home should mirror that of Fells Point. Obviously this is not the case and I believe Cherry Hill Homes is the primary factor holding the Neighborhood back.
Photo From Google Earth
That being said, it's time to redevelop Cherry Hill Homes. Now the newer section located near Carver Road and Bridgeview Road (pictured above) will be spared and will remain a Public Housing Family Development. Now one thing that be done with caution and care is to provide public housing for Seniors who would be displaced by the redevelopment of Cherry Hill Homes.
These new Senior buildings will be located next to Harbor Hospital on what is now surface parking. This will have an effect on security around the Hospital because visitors and employees alike will now have to park in a garage that will be built on site. With the new Senior Development located here Residents will be closer to the Town Center as well as the Health Center.
The Senior Buildings will be amenity filled and will cater to Seniors with all different needs such as Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Nursing Residents. All Seniors in Cherry Hill Homes will be guaranteed a place in the new Senior Development and if there are any left over, Seniors on a Public Housing waiting list would fill the rest of the Apartments up. 
The section of Cherry Hill Home to be redeveloped will be on the outskirts of the Neighborhood located behind the Patapsco Avenue Light Rail Station. In the place of Cherry Hill Homes will be high density TOD Apartments, Condos, and Town Homes most of which will be Market Rate Home Ownership and Rentals (70%) They will expand from Seagull Avenue to Berea Road. This new TOD Community will integrate Cherry Hill with the Light Rail Stop with a lighted promenade from Seagull Avenue to Berea Road. The following road will be extended to meet Patapsco Avenue; Seagull Avebue, Bethune Road, Bridgeview Road, and Sethlow Road. This will allow Patapsco Avenue as well the Light Rail Station to be integrated into the fabric of Cherry Hill. 
Photo From Baltimore
Also when redeveloping Cherry Hill Homes, great care must be taken not to displace Residents who are upwardly mobile. There are Residents who are gainfully employed and/or are in School. A good portion (30%) will be set aside for current Cherry Hill Homes Residents who meet the upwardly mobile criteria above which will allow them to "rent to own" their homes. These new homes will be similar in concept to the successful River Front Town Homes that were the original Barracks. This will increase Home Ownership in Cherry Hill and allow Residents to build equity in their homes. Unlike River Front Town Homes, the redeveloped Cherry Hill Homes will be only new construction.
On the opposite side of Cherry Hill sits what was once to be Waterview Overlook, this was supposed to be an upscale condo and Town Home Development. Land along Waterview Avenue had been cleared for development but the housing market went bust and so did the developers of Waterview Overlook. Since this land is zoned for exactly the number of units that the original Waterview Overlook was supposed to have, I would like to see this project resurrected. Also along Waterview Avenue there is great opportunity to integrate the road with the existing Cherry Hill Community. It would involve redeveloping part of the Middle Branch Manor Apartments. The redeveloped part of Middle Branch Manor would be similar to Waterview Overlook in appearance and will have Waterview Avenue frontage.
In the inner ring of Cherry Hill, there are some plats of land that are vacant. Those plats of land will be developed as Town Homes which are what's already in that part of the Neighborhood. Also the existing Neighborhood is very dark. Street lights are very rare and I think invites crime. The redeveloped part of the Neighborhood will obviously have more street lights but they also have to be added to the existing Neighborhood. I'm surprised that this issue wasn't addressed long ago. Streets will be repaved and sidewalks repaired and retrofitted.  
Photo From Cherry Hill Master Plan
Now we come to the Schools. Cherry Hill has 4 Elementary Schools and 2 High Small High Schools. School Construction is something that Baltimore City is way behind on and I think that new Schools in Cherry Hill are crucial to its success. Combining the four Elementary Schools into two both in brand new buildings one at the current Arundel Elementary/Middle site and the other at the Patapsco Elementary/Middle. The two High Schools, New Era Academy and Southside Academy co-exist together in the former Arnett J. Brown Middle School Building. Since this building's use was that of a Middle School, the site outside is inadequate  for a High School let alone two. Things that are lacking include a running track, football field, tennis courts, and baseball diamonds. All that this School has is a blacktop. In order to keep this building's site adequate, all of those things will have to be added.
Photo From Cherry Hill Master Plan
In 2008 the City of Baltimore released a Master Plan for Cherry Hill. It barely brushed upon the subject of development and redevelopment. I think to achieve the results set forth in the original Plan a second Master Plan that was development oriented had to be created. Hopefully this plan that I have set forth will take off and Cherry Hill will be among Baltimore's most sought after addresses.