Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Mondawmin Crossing II: The Neighborhood

Although I believe that Mondawmin Mall is a good site for Baltimore's next mega successive ultra regional mixed use Big Box Center, I don't believe the surrounding Neighborhood is quite ready for it. Although the area struggles with crime, drugs, vacant housing, and poverty, I would like to use the revamped Mondawmin Mall/Mondawmin Crossing as a way to jump start reinvestment and redevelopment in the area. There are also numerous assets nearby that are overlooked and can be used to enhance the Neighborhood.
When I was tossing around ideas for this post, I was looking at ways to connect Mondawmin to Neighborhoods east of the JFX. I thought about extending and/or relocating either Liberty Heights Avenue or Gwynns Falls Parkway so that they meet and blend into Druid Park Lake Drive which in turn connects to the JFX and becomes 28th/29th St. east of it. This would have connected to Mondawmin to Remington, Station North, Hampden, and Charles Village. When delving further into this concept however, I realized that the only to effectively do this is to either demolish a large chunk of Row Homes in the Parkview/Woodbrook Neighborhood or run it through Druid Hill Park.
Although redevelopment of dilapidated row homes near Mondawmin may be needed, Parkview/Woodbrook shouldn't be the place to do it. Neither is running roadways through Druid Hill Park. There aren't nearly as many vacants as there are in other Neighborhoods. In addition, the row homes there have great architecture. Although they need to be completely rehabbed and restored in most cases, they will rival those found in Bolton Hill, Reservoir Hill, and Charles Village. This would be a great place to offer $1 Row Home incentives in order to bring massive reinvestment dollars to this diamond in the rough.
There's one big asset to the Mondawmin area that I don't believe acts as such. I'm referring to Hanlon Park. Hanlon Park is home to Lake Ashburton which gives gorgeous views of the City as well as a running track along the lake. There are other amenities in this park but they fall flat when compared to more modernized parks. First, in order to properly expand the park and the amenities it offers, Dukeland St. will now have to end at Gwynns Falls Parkway. This will make a seamless transition between what is now known as Hanlon Park and the campuses for Gwynns Falls Elementary and William H. Lemmel Middle School.
Both of these School programs can be consolidated to other under-utilized buildings in the Neighborhood to help balance out the enrollment capacity-ratios. Gwynns Falls Elementary can be split between Hilton Elementary and Robert W. Coleman Elementary. Robert W. Coleman Elementary has been making headlines by offering yoga to Students and having it suspension rate plummet as a result. The Magnet School(s) using the William H. Lemmel campus can be moved to the Old Walbrook High Campus which now plays host to several other Magnet Programs.
By closing off Dukeland St. and the two School Campuses, we can now renovate and expand Hanlon Park. The new park will include new Baseball Diamonds, Tennis Courts, Basketball Courts, Volleyball Courts, a full length Football field, Soccer field, and an Olympic sized swimming pool. This expanded park will provide direct access to the Mondawmin Crossing and will make Hanlon Park a Community Magnet as reinvestment in the housing stock continues.
Although Mondawmin Mall has the potential to be Baltimore's next Canton Crossing, it's important to look at the surrounding neighborhoods to see if they too create the same welcoming environment that the Retail Center promises to and that it too is a safe Neighborhood with a healthy housing stock not only to keep the Retail Center viable, but to encourage shoppers from other Neighborhoods to visit too.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

New Posts Coming Soon

Sorry for the lack of output, I have been on vacation and have otherwise been very busy in both my paying job and my social life. That being said, I haven't forgotten about all you loyal readers and I do have ideas that are brewing in my head for future posts. In fact, the second part of the Mondawmin Crossing series might not be next because other material is at the forefront of my brain. Stay Tuned!