Wilkens Avenue for the most part, is in pretty bad shape its once working and middle class population has fled due to the collapse of the manufacturing sector and the flight to the suburbs. As a result, the home ownership rate has declined, crime and vacant blighted homes has risen making Wilkens Avenue appear stagnant. In a sense Wilkens Avenue is stagnant the central issue surrounding its decline is jobs or lack there of. The manufacturing plants in Southwest Baltimore have mostly shuttered and the area doesn't seem to be attracting potential employers. It doesn't sound Wilkens Avenue will turn around any time soon or will it?
When I look at Neighborhoods that have benefited from Artist Housing, I think of that as a secret weapon the City has to revive Neighborhoods that are in poor shape. Then I realized that Artists aren't the only profession that is in need of affordable housing. Like I said Baltimore has always been a working man's City and it still is regardless of what the gentrified Harbor portrays. There are lots of working and middle class Residents who are struggling to find a decent place to live and an affordable price. That's when I got the idea to make districts strictly for said professions, but where? It has to be an area that's not too far gone but at the same time the housing and the land it sits on has to be low in value.
Now where along Wilkens Avenue would each particular District go? Well actually that really doesn't matter there is plenty of vacant housing ready to either rehabbed or rebuilt depending on how dilapidated said housing is. The districts will be as follows; The Hospitality District (for Hotel and Restaurants Workers), The Education District (for Teachers) the Emergency District (for Cops, Firefighters, and Paramedics, the Nursing District, the Retail District (for workers in Retail), the Civil Servant District (postal workers, garbage
collectors etc.) and the Plumbing District.
Now comes the question of whether making housing affordable enough for Baltimore's workforce is enough to attract them to Wilkens Avenue. Personally I think so because the opportunity to become a home owner in and around Baltimore would otherwise be nothing more than a dream for those in these professions (I work in Hospitality I'm speaking from experience) and also I would like the redevelopment portions of these districts to feature new LEED initiatives to cut back pollution and reduce utility bills which is something we all worry about when paying our monthly bills.
This might be the ticket for Wilkens Avenue to make a comeback, one that is better than gentrification because it will help reestablish a solid working class and middle class base in the City. These good jobs didn't use to require subsides but as the cost as living went up our wages either went stagnant or went down. Much like Wilkens Avenue.