Monday, May 19, 2008

Station North: A Victim of its Own Sucess

Cities have an ace up their sleeve when it comes to gentrifying blighted neighborhoods without putting forth large amount of cash out of their own pockets to do so. It's called an "Arts and Entertainment District." This provides subsidies for artists to live and work and use sweat equity to gentrify a neighborhood by themselves and provide places to sell and display their work. However, they can work too well. The artists who have worked so hard to gentrify their neighborhood will eventually become priced out and it will be another over priced yuppie district.
Station North covers two neighborhoods; Charles North and Greenmount West. The Charles North side has received almost all the attention and investment both on the public and private sector. In fact a "Charles North Master Plan" has been inked which calls for major redevelopment north of and including Penn Station. A Boutique Hotel will be built either across from (with a walkway) or on the three unused floors above Penn Station. Six skyscrapers are on the books as well as a Concert Hall, close to a million square feet of retail, office, and studio spaces as well as residences. There will also be green space and Art Gallereies. A few blocks north in Charles Village there is a burgeoning Korean Community. Charles North is looking to become Baltimore's "Chinatown." Community activists are attracting Chinese Business owners to open upscale restaurants and boutique shops in Charles North.
Now that Charles North is slated to become the next Fels Point and price out the artists who attracted the big development in the first place, what's to become of them? Well as I stated before Station North consists of two neighborhoods;
Charles North on the west and GreenmountWest on the east which does have a Master Plan in the works but it hasn't been presented to the public as of the writing of this post. Greenmount West was in much worse shape than Charles North when the Station North Arts & Entertainment District was iniated so it's no surprise that it hasn't received the same investment that Charles North has.
As of right now Greenmount isn't as transit friendly as Charles North is. The Yellow Line will eventually run right through it in about 40 years. On Calvert St., the western border of Greenmount West "Station North" have been built from Lafayette Avenue to Lanvale St. The 1500 of Greenmount Avenue on the Eastern end of the Station North is a vacant lot and has been an eyesore on the community for decades. Both the Station North Town homes development and what has been proposed for the 1500 of Greenmount Avenue are very contemporary and don't fit in with the surrounding community architecture.
Greenmount West should be able to absorb the displaced residents and they will do the same thing in West that they did in Charles North. The end result in Right now it's just a waiting game for Charles North to be built and current artists to be priced out which despite the economic slow down is approaching quickly. The plan for Greenmount West will actually be different than in Charles North. New development will not be huge sky scraper projects and Boutique Hotels rather than infill development of town homes and warehouse loft type spaces that look like that in the existing community. Demolition will be minimal, only to be done if the structure is rendered unlivable. Mildred Monroe Elementary will be converted into a museum for Artists to show their work. Perhaps the biggest improvement in Greenmount West will be its retail component. Similar to Charles North, it will cater to the arts and feature a better selection of restaurants and bars.
Now that all of Station North has been gentrified where will the artists go? Well luckily in Baltimore there are plenty of communities that can benefit from the Arts and Entertainment District designation. It could cross Greenmount Cemetery into Oliver and Broadway East(The American Brewery Building would be an ideal location for artist lofts), Head south into Johnston Square and Gay Street, or head across North Avenue into Barclay and East Baltimore Midway. Maybe it will go to all those places, it's a long shot but with the economic slow down and the stalling of large development projects it could be a possibility. Luckily Station North being a victim of its own success means that it can be easily expanded.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Early Interstate Maps vs. Baltimore Regional Rail Plan: I see Overlaps

Photo from Roadstothe
In my endless research of Baltimore I have found some coincidences that I thought I would share with my loyal and not so loyal followers. I use the Baltimore Regional Rail Plan all the time for references almost daily whether it stays accurate in the long term or not. Every once in a while I'll look at the early interstate planning maps and see what was proposed and what was actually built. Truth be told only a fraction of what was on the drawing board was built. Baltimore was on the forefront of interstate rebellions winning two big victories although one still had repercussions on surrounding neighborhoods. There are still other interstate plans that few ever heard of or were scaled back so much that you could hardly tell that it was once proposed to be an expressway. It was quite obvious when the MTA came out with its "Baltimore Regional Rail Plan" in 2002 and its current right of ways for existing lines that old interstate and expressway right of ways were used and are continuing to be used for rail lines.
Photo from
I-70 was supposed to extend from Cooks Lane to I-95 with an I-170 spur just east of Edmondson Village. The Red Line uses part of the killed I-70 project except that it joins route 40 at the Cooks Lane intercection rather then east of Edmondson Village.
I-83 was supposed to be extended past Fayette St. and go along Boston St. and meet I-95. The eastern portion of the Red Line is proposed to run along Boston St.
Photo From Google Earth
The northern portion of I-83 has the Light Rail Line running parallel to it.
There was a proposal to build the "Windlass Freeway" which was to be an extension of Moravia Road east of I-95 to White Marsh Boulevard. Part of I-695 used the Windlass Freeway right of way as does the MARC Line and the future more localized Purple Line.
There was a proposal to build a "Southwest Expressway" which would spur off of I-170 and use the MARC Penn Line alignment. This was kind of used as MLK Boulevard in the city and Southwestern Boulevard in the county but the two don't connect.
The Green Line does and will run along current and killed freeway rights of way. I-795 from Owings Mills to I-695 uses the same right of way. I-795 was supposed to go inside the Beltway and meet Wabash Avenue. I-795 never did but the Green Line does and travels above Wabash Avenue.
Perring Parkway is a scaled back version of "The Perring Freeway." I have no evidence to back this up but I believe that Mt. Pleasant Park and Golf Course were interchange right of ways to be used as part of the Perring Freeway. The Green Line extended Northeast from Hopkins will use this right of way.

These coincidences are too many and too interesting to ignore. As Mass Transit becomes the only alternative to get away from rising gas prices it will be interesting to see these freeways come to life as transit lines.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

School Facilities Update

This is an update and revisit of the post "City Schools: a Gradual Building Replacement Plan" I have gathered more data and have come up with a more aggressive plan that not only includes Elementary/Middle Schools but High Schools and Smaller Learning Communities. In the spirit of my previous post it will focus on shedding class room space, building new schools, and proper utilization of classroom space. I will use the district precincts as models but a few schools might not be in their precincts. *means school is slated for closure already. If a school isn't mentioned on this post, it doesn't need to be changed.

East Area
Close Lakewood, Fort Worthington, Dr. Raynor Browne, and Collington Square Elementaries.
Build McElderry Park Elementary/Middle Capacity 15oo
Build new school on the former grounds of Collington Square Elementary

Close Cecil, Johnston Square, and Dr. Raynor Browne Elementary and relocate students to Harford Heights Campus. Rename school South Clifton Park Elementary/Middle Build 307 seat
addition Capcity 1975

Close Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle
Close Thomas G. Hayes Elementary*
Relocate Eager Street Academy and Laurence G. Paquin Middle/High to Dunbar High Campus.
Relocate New Era and Southside Academy Students Here after 300 seat addition/renovation

North Area
Close Dallas F. Nicholas, Barclay, and Margaret Brent Elementaries
Build Charles Village Elementary/Middle Capacity 975
Build new school on a parking next to city schools headquarters on 25th St.

Close Hampden, Medfield Heights and the Green School
Build Hampden-Woodberry Elementary/Middle
Capacity 675
Build new school on the grounds of the former Robert Poole Middle

Close Robert Poole Middle*
Close Winston Middle*
Close Chinquapin Middle
Close Northern High (Schools housed here at now at Western High Campus)
Close Mount Washington Elementary

Redistrict Mount Washington Elementary Students to Roland Park Elementary/Middle following a renovation

Build 175 seat addition/renovation at Leith Walk Elementary rename Chinquapin Elementary/Middle following a renovation.

Build new Waverly Elementary/Middle* Capacity 700

Close Guilford, Walter P. Carter, and Govans Elmentaries
Build Winston Govans Elementary/Middle
Capacity 1025
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Winston Middle

Close Lois T. Murray, Yorkewood, Northwood Elementary, and Northwood Academy
Build Loch Raven Elmentary/Middle
Capacity 1400
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Chinquapin Middle

Send Western High Students to Polytech following a renovation.
Close Former Northern High Campus
Relocate W.E.B. DuBois and Reginald F. Lewis students to newly vacated Western High following a renovation

Northeast Area
Close Woodhome, Glenmount, and City Neighbrors Charter Elementaries.
Build North Harford Road Elementary/Middle Capacity:1450
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Hamilton Middle

Close Garrett Heights and Hamilton Elementarys
Build Lauraville Elementary/Middle
Capacity: 950
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Hamilton Elementary

Close Hamilton Middle*
Close Thurgood Marshall Middle*
Close Northeast Middle

Close Furley, Gardenville, and Hazelwood Elementarys
Build Gardenville Elementary/Middle
Capacity 1400
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Thurgood Marshall Middle
Relocate Heritage and Doris M. Johnson High Schools to the Thurgood Marshall/ Samuel L. Banks High Campus following a renovatio/addition. Close Lake Clifton/Eastern High Building and restore the lake that the building currently sits on. Capacity:2850

Close Sinclair Lane and Brehms Lane Elementarys
Build Belair Edison Elementary/Middle Capacity 1050
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Northeast MiddleRelocate Baltimore City College and Harbor City High to Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High following a renovation/addition bringing the capacity to 2700.

Relocate Stadium, Coldstream Park, Abbottston, and Montebello Elementaries to the now vacant Baltimore City College Building following a renovation/addition. Rename Coldstream Homestead Montebello Elementary/Middle. Capacity 1800

Northwest Area
Close Fallstaff, Cross Country
Build Western Run Elementary/Middle
Capacity 900
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Northwest High

Close Liberty, Windsor Hills, and Hilton Elementaries
Build Forest Park Elementary/Middle
Capacity 775
Locate new building on the grounds on the former Garrison Middle

Close Grove Park, Arlington, and Langston Hughes Elementaries
Build Woodmere Elementary/Middle
Capacity 1075
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Pimlico Middle

Renovate/build addition at Calvin M. Rodwell Elementary
Rename Howard Park Elementary/Middle
Capacity 300

Close Callaway Elementary and redistrict all students to Ashburton Elementary/Middle following a renovation/addition. Capacity 1000

Close Pimlico, Dr. Martin Luther Jr., and Edgecombe Circle Elementaries
Build Park Heights Elementary/Middle
Capacity 1675
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Edgecombe Circle Elementaries

Close Pimlico Middle*
Close Garrison Middle
Close Northwest High

Relocate Northwest High to Greenspring Middle Campus Following a Renovation.

Relocate Acceleration Academy at Gwynn Oak and George W. McMechen Middle/High to Forest Park High Campus following a renovation.

South Area
Close George Washington, Stuart Hill, and Charles Carroll Barrister Elementaries
Build Washington Village Elementary/Middle (I'd prefer Pigtown)
Capacity 725
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Diggs Johnson Middle

Close Samuel F.B. Morse, Southwest Charter School, and James McHenry Elementaries
Build Hollins Market Elementary/Middle
Capacity 925
Locate new building on the grounds of the former James McHenry Elementary

Close Diggs Johnson Middle*
Close Benjamin Franklin Middle* (need not be used as a High School)
Close Arnett J. Brown Middle Campus (Southside/New Era Academies) now at Dunbar Campus

Close Westport Academy, Lakeland Elementary/Middle, and Arundel Elementary/Middle
Build Inner Harbor West Elementary/Middle
Capacity 1275

Close Cherry Hill, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, and Patapsco Elementary Middles
Build Waterview Elementary/Middle
Capacity 1375
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Arnett J. Brown Middle

Close Sharp-Leadenhall, Federal Hill, Thomas Johnson, and Francis Scott Key Elementaries
Build South Baltimore Elementary/Middle
Capacity 1375
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Francis Scott Key Elementary/Middle

Close Curtis Bay,Bay Brook and Maree Farring Elementary/Middles
Build Brooklyn-Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle
Capacity 1150
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Benjamin Franklin Middle

Relocate Francis M. Woods Alt. High to former Southern High Campus following a renovation

Southeast Area
Close City Springs, General Wolfe Elementarys, and Inner Harbor East Academy
Build Fels Point Elementary Middle
Capacity 750
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Crossroads School

Close Tench Tlighman, Commodore John Rodgers, and William Paca Elementarys
Build Patterson Park Elementary/Middle
Capacity 1250

Close Both Highlandtown Elementarys and Patterson Public Charter School
Build new Highlandtown Elemntary/Middle
Capacity 700
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Highlandtown Elementary#215

Rename Hampstead Hill Elementary/Middle to Canton Elementary/Middle
following a renovation

Close Canton Middle*
Close Southeast Middle*Close Lombard Middle*
Close the Crossroads School

Close Graceland Park-O'Donnell Heights, Holabird, John Ruhrah Elementarys
Build Southeast Elementary/Middle
Capacity 775
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Southeast Middle

Relocate Claremont School, Baltimore Freedom Academy, and Alternative Learning Center to Patterson High Campus following a renovation.

Renovate Armistead Gardens Elementary to make for Middle School students in its district.

Southwest Area
Relocate Augusta Fels Academy of the Visual Arts, Vivien T. Thomas Institute for Medical Arts, and Talent Development High Schools to Edmondson Westside Campus following a renovation.

Close Southwest High*
Close Calverton Middle*
Close West Baltimore *

Close Lyndhurst, and Mary E. Rodman Elementarys and Rognel Heights Elmentary/Middle
Build Edmondson Village Elementary/Middle
Capacity 1050
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Lyndhurst Elementary

Close North Bend, Beechfield and Thomas Jefferson Elementarys
Build Ten Hills Elementary/Middle
Capacity 1200
Locate new building on the grounds of the former West Baltimore Middle

Close Sarah M. Roach, Fredrick, and Bentalou Elementarys
Build Carroll South Hilton Elementary/Middle
Capacity 1025
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Southwest High

Close Alexander Hamilton, and James Mosher Elementarys, and Empowerment Academy
Build Bridgeview-Greenlawn Elementary/Middle
Capacity 925
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Alexander Hamilton Elementary

Close Belmont, Rosemont, and Lafayette Elementarys
House in Calverton Middle building following a renovation
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Calverton Middle

West Area
Relocate Maritime Academy High School to Walbrook High Campus

Relocate Coppin Academy, Youth Opportunity, and Renaissance Academy to Carver Vocational High Campus

Close Harlem Park Middle*
Close William H. Lemmel Middle*
Close Booker T. Washington Middle*
Close Lillie M. Jackson Elementary*

Relocate following a renovation.

Relocate Alternative Learning Center, Connextions Leadership Academy, Baltimore Urban League, and Central Career Academy at Briscoe to Fredrick Douglas High followong a renovation.

Close Harlem Park, Harriett Tubman,Franklin Square,and Lockerman Bundy Elementarys
Build new Harlem Park Elementary/Middle
Locate new building on the grounds of the former Harlem Park Middle

Close George G. Kelson, Gilmor, and William Pinderhuges Elementarys
Build Sandtown-Winchester Elementary/Middle
Locate new building on the grounds of the soon to be demolished Gilmor Homes

Close Furman L. Templeton, Eutaw Marshburn, and Samuel Cooliage Taylor Elementarys
Create Heritage Crossing Elementary/Middle in former Booker T. Washington Building

Close Westside, Matthew A. Henson, and John Eager Howard Elementarys
Build Reservoir Hill Elementary/Middle

Close Midtown Academy and Mount Royal Elementary/Middle
Build Bolton Hill Elementary/Middle

Close Robert W. Coleman, Edgewood, and Gwynns Falls Elementarys
Build Mondawmin Elementary/Middle
Locate new building on the grounds of the former William H. Lemmel Middle

Well there you have it. The school system has shed thousands of unfilled seats and built new schools at the same time while preserving schools that are attractive and historically significant and for the most part there is little to no land acquisition for new schools and demolished schools can be sold off for development.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

North Avenue:Narrowed Streets Row Homes and Sky Scrapers

North Avenue may be the one of the city's longest uninterrupted east west roadways stretching from Walbrook Junction in the west to Berea in the east. It got its name for the simple fact that for much of Baltimore's history it was the city's northern border. Today it separates Downtown from suburban North Baltimore. Dozens of neighborhoods, too many to name use North Avenue as their northern or southern border. The neighborhoods in question range from dilapidated rats nests to Baltimore's grandest and most celebrated and everything in between. One thing they all have in common is that they turn their back on North Avenue.It wasn't always this way. North Avenue was once integrated in every sense of the word. It was a thriving urban village filled with shops, boutiques, movie houses, apartments, row homes and streetcar lines meeting at major intersections. It was integrated racially because neighborhoods were both white and black that bordered on North Avenue. It was also integrated into the fabric of the urban landscape. The neighborhoods themselves were segregated but all of them whether white or black used North Avenue for their everyday shopping needs.
Well times have changed, streetcars lines were replaced with buses and cars, blockbusting resegregated most neighborhoods and the industry sector of the city's economy was all but eroded. North Avenue felt these "growing pains" or shrinking pains of the white flight to suburbia and the emptying out of Old West Baltimore and Old East Baltimore, Baltimore's only black neighborhoods at the time. They all encroached on North Avenue draining the tax and customer base from the neighborhood businesses along North Avenue.
The interstate building era was not kind to North Avenue either. One of the proposed routes for the "East West Expressway" these plans were scrapped as was the East West Expressway as a whole. North Avenue didn't get away scott free, it was widened from two lanes to six lanes destroying block after block of homes and businesses further distancing it from its neighborhoods. North Avenue went from an urban village to a suburban drag. The quality of the businesses went down. Businesses consist of Chinese Carry Out, Fried Chicken Joints, $.99 stores, check cashing, store front churches, and liquor stores. The MLK riots of 1968 were the final nail in the coffin for North Avenue with it having one of the heaviest numbers of incidents.
Today the central portion of North Avenue is showing signs of hope. By the central portion I mean from Pennsylvania Avenue to Greenmount Avenue. This includes but is not limited to the Station North Arts & Entertainment District. I'm going to dedicate an entire post to Station North so I won't go into detail about it, I will mention that it involves skyscrapers. Around Pennsylvania Avenue where the Green Line stop is located in the Penn North neighborhood there is a proposal for high density TOD on vacant industrial land.
Between Bolton Hill and Reservoir Hill there should be redevelopment of the Madison Park North Apartments and the relocation of Maritime Academy High School to the Walbrook Campus. The area should be redeveloped as a mixed use community with frontage on North Avenue. On the Bolton Hill side there was a new development of town homes but they turn their back on North Avenue. I think there should be an extension of that development with frontage on North Avenue. Now how can new town homes be built along North Avenue when they already back to it? That's easy narrow the road. Six lanes is way too wide for an urban street. It can easily be narrowed down to three lanes, one for through traffic in each direction and one turn lane. This should be done for the entire length of North Avenue to encourage redevelopment. The central portion of North Avenue and redevelopment of neighborhoods nearby should eventually lead to redevelopment of the eastern and western portions of North Avenue.You've heard of planes, trains, and automobiles but for North Avenue it's narrowed streets, row homes, and skyscrapers.