Tuesday, December 19, 2017

What's New In the Few Blocks Around the Harbor Part I South and West

For redevelopment in Baltimore, almost all of it has been made possible by the Inner Harbor and its revitalization in 1980 by the opening of Harbor Place followed by the homesteading in Otterbein, Federal Hill, and eventually water front redevelopment in Canton, Inner Harbor East, and Locust Point. Although the Inner Harbor redevelopment has spread like wildfire, it's always good to check up on the area immediately surrounding the Harbor itself to keep it as current as the new developments it inspired. This post new will examine new developments that are taking place within a block or two of the Harbor itself.
First there's the biggest or should I say tallest project; 414 Light St. this new glass skyscraper located at the very visible Light St. and Conway St. intersection has always been a gateway in and out of the City. It originally was part of the McCormick spice plant which moved to Hunt Valley. Between then and now, it has served as a very expensive surface parking lot. Developers have had plans for years to construct a skyscraper on this property but the economy hasn't allowed for it. Developers have waited patiently until they could secure the necessary funds and the development climate was such that development could commence.
Next there's Banner Hill Apartments. This is being built on the grounds where the University of Maryland Specialty Hospital had stood on S. Charles St. This hospital had been shut down long ago and its building sat vacant ever since. It was torn down in favor of Banner Hill Apartments in order to bring life to S. Charles St., Otterbein, and a link between Conway St. and South Baltimore. At the moment, Otterbein has relatively few Apartments consisting mostly of the old $1 row houses and some newer infill town homes. The new Banner Hill Apartments will certainly be easier on the eye as compared to the shuttered Hospital.
Next there's the redevelopment of rash field. A big hurdle that rash field has faced has been its popularity and the fact that there's very little parking for it. The solution, has been a multi level parking garage under the field. Although I believe this will solve the problem, this has brought the price tag up to $40 million. Obtaining funds for this has proven difficult but I believe it is necessary as the Harbor Promenade needs as much functional green recreational space as possible.   
Next there's the project known as Bainbridge Federal Hill. This will be located on a narrow on Key Highway just in front of Digital Harbor High School. Although this will mostly be Apartments, developers have opted to include town homes for the ground units facing Key Highway. This project has been controversial to say the least given the lot's size and the intrusion the building will have on the surrounding Neighborhood.
Next there's the ongoing development of Harborview built on the land that was originally the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard. The lone high rise of Harborview known as Harborview Towers has been joined by other components of the development including low rise Condos, Town homes, and "Pier Homes." These additional pieces of the development are not the entire development. There are still buildings of varying heights that have yet to be built. The two buildings that will be built first are Pinnacle I & II both located at the intersection of Key Highway and Pierside Drive. Pinnacle I will be considered a high rise though not as tall as Harborview Towers while Pinnacle II will be a low to mid rise building. The buildings will be narrow offering panoramic views in all directions. There are still more buildings proposed for Harborview each located on surface parking lots on either side of Little Havana. The new buildings have promised not to obstruct the views of the Harbor from Federal Hill Residents.
Next we come to what has been known as Federal Hill Town Homes. This development has become the epitome of the economic downturn of the mid to late 2000s. About half of the four level town homes were built then and were slow selling making the rest of the development stall. Finally in the last couple of years, the remaining home have begun to be built. However instead of four level town homes in order to make them more affordable have become two over two town homes of two levels each. This should make the last few units sell quicker.
Next we come to the General Shipyard Repair Corporation. This is one of the last remaining vestiges of the once industrial Key Highway but the owners have sold their land to a developer who plans to build an Apartment Building with ground floor Retail. Whether the building will be low or high rise is still to be determined. General Shipyard Repair Corporation is currently shopping for a new location and is hoping to stay at the Port of Baltimore.
Finally we come to Key Highway in between Woodall and Stevenson St. This thin swath of land currently has a few small vacant industrial buildings with row homes behind them. The plan is to put an Office Building at this site. Personally, I find an Office Building to be intrusive for that small site and would rather add town homes to it that fit into scale with the older row homes that are already there. These plans are still in their infancy so I'm unsure what will come to fruition.
As the gentrification caused by the Inner Harbor continues to spread across the City, we mustn't allow the Inner Harbor itself to become dated. Fortunately, there are many new development projects right at  the front door of the Inner Harbor which should keep it viable for years to come.     

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