Saturday, June 17, 2017

Remington Redevelopment: What's Next?

Remington, like much of Baltimore City, is going through changes. The changes that Remington is going through is both unlike other parts of the City and exactly like them at the same time. Remington has seen impressive growth in population and value in its housing stock and due to its location between Hampden and Charles Village, has it an up & coming Neighborhood. 
Some recent redevelopment projects have improved the amount of Retail in Remington while another il-fated project has kept Remington in the headlines. During this transition, it's important to carefully pay attention to keep Remington from gentrification and pricing out long term Residents and having too much existing housing stock hit the wrecking ball. So we have to ask; What's Next?
Remington Avenue has become a Main Street for the Community. The westside of the 2700 and 2800 blocks are now home to Remington Row and R-House respectively. Remington Row is a mixed use development with ground floor Retail, upper level Offices, and Apartments wrapped around a parking garage while R-House is an interior food court with tables and features space for local chefs to sell their food. The east side of the aforementioned blocks of Remington Avenue contain classic Row Homes that developers are rehabbing.
Speaking of rehabbing Row Homes, they are the biggest part of Remington's housing stock. That's not surprising since Baltimore is well known for its Row Homes. The Row Homes of Remington contain a very diverse population of all ages some of whom have lived there for generations while others are newcomers.
Although there are still plenty of vacants throughout the housing stock, rehabbers are scoping out the area to either "flip" the houses once rehabbed or they make their properties their homes. Before redeveloping other parts of Remington, I would like to see a greater number of row homes rehabbed and occupied. Pigtown made this mistake by building the Camden Crossing town home development and it sucked up reinvestment dollars that would have and should have gone to the existing housing stock.
Remington currently has one of the City's largest undeveloped plats of land sitting in the middle of it. This of course is known as "25th St. Station." When the Anderson Automotive Group left the City, the land it sat on (centered around Howard St. and 25th St.), was vacated. At first, there were plans to redevelop it as big box Retail anchored by Lowe's and Wal Mart. Lowe's pulled out first and the project was reconfigured to have Wal-Mart as the soul anchor.
Residents in Remington and surrounding Neighborhoods don't want a Wal-Mart and they fought to send the project back to the drawing board. Wal-Mart pulled out of the project and the future of the land remains unknown. I currently don't have any alternative plans for this land and I think other parts of the Neighborhood should be a larger priority mainly the existing housing stock.
Although Remington Avenue is considered the Main Street of Remington, Howard St. acts as its eastern border between itself and Charles Village and acts as an entryway to Northern Baltimore City for those coming from Downtown. This "entryway" is anything but. Howard St. is a wide barren suburban boulevard between North Avenue and 25th St. and contains primarily automotive oriented uses.
Howard St. needs to be made over with on street parking and a biker lane. The narrowed road will slow down cars as there are lot of accidents along that portion of the street. I had wanted a landscaped median but that will impede on turning vehicles in between intersections. Instead, I'm opting for plating of additional trees, street lighting, mast arm traffic signals, and brick crosswalks. I would also encourage vacant industrial or automotive uses to to transform the buildings into Neighborhood friendly uses similar to the Parts 'N Labor Butcher Shop/Restaurant.    
So What's Next for Remington? More of the same hopefully. Keep investing in the existing housing stock and making the Neighborhood a hot spot for Mom & Pop Retail, remake Howard St., and use a wait and see approach for the land that was to be 25th St. Station. Big Box Retail however probably won't work at that site. One thing I'm sure of for the area is that more good things are coming next.