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Posts Tagged ‘development’

Baltimore City: Still Developing

From Growing Up Baltimore "War Zones" siteLast year, we vented our frustration with city services and quality of life, playfully comparing Baltimore City to developing country cities like Cairo, Kingston, and Johannesburg. A spat of recent news stories and personal incidents have led us to wonder if we hit closer to the truth than we had thought.

All I Wanna Do is [Bang Bang Bang Bang] On New Year’s Eve, some people watch the fireworks display over the harbor. Others shoot guns in the air. Police patrols have long been instructed by supervisors on December 31 to “stay out of people’s way” and “make yourselves very scarce”, or just “Get the ** off the streets…” according to retired cop ‘Buz’. This year, police tried going after folks celebrating with alternative fireworks in their backyards. Some locals didn’t take to the crack down. “We were just shooting in the air,” said Robert M. Booze Sr, whose 25 year-old Derringer was confiscated in the wee hours of January 1, 2010, by police. “We were just celebrating the new year,” said Booze, a retired bakery worker, to the Baltimore Sun, “It’s how we do it in Baltimore.” In 1999, then-Mayor O’Malley initiated the policy change, complaining that city police rang in the New Year “hidden beneath highway overpasses” and “[taking] cover to avoid being showered with bullets.” 11 years later, the message hasn’t sunk in. The Baltimore Sun reports that 1000 police deployed on New Year’s Eve seized 29 guns and made 41 gun-related arrests. (more…)

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Fixing the JFX

View on JFX near historic Penn Station

JFX near historic Penn Station

On the Baltimore Brew, the new alternative e-paper that is becoming a hot spot for urban planning discourse, Gerald Neilly makes a good case for the city to “bend but don’t break” the Jones Fall Expressway (otherwise known as the JFX). The hidious neighborhood barrier that becomes I-83 is elevated on cement for its last mile between Northeast Baltimore and Mount Vernon, allowing traffic to speed through Baltimore’s Cultural Center, give drivers a peek at the Eager Street jail, and covering the Downtown Farmer’s Market with shadow and soot.

However we loathe the 1970s-era elevated expressway, Neilly’s point is well taken:

“If the City is going to spend a billion dollars to tear down the last mile of the Jones Falls Expressway (JFX) and replace it with a boulevard, they had better give us a lot more than just a glorified median strip with vast streams of traffic whooshing (or crawling) by on either side…The JFX already becomes President Street south of Fayette Street toward Harbor East, and it’s a traffic hell that pedestrians invade at their peril.”

For real though — President’s Street feels creepy in that Southern California way, like cars are more important than people and if you get hit, it’s your bad. I second the notion to utilize the undesirable prison environs to channel traffic, and to make something of the wasted space near downtown where the JFX currently looms on the horizon. Nightlife venues have settled in here, like Sonar, The Talking Head and One, the farmer’s market persists despite the ultra depressing highway ceiling, and businesses would jump at the chance to open just above the Cheese Whiz adult playground Power Plant Live.

Check out Neilly’s drawings of what this retooled JFX could look like. Shading in yellow is ripe for development.

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"My New East Side is Active"

"My New East Side Is Active"

800 houses were gobbled up last week by the East Baltimore Development Inc (EBDI). As the Urban Discoveries blog notes the initiative is actually taking off, after countless cleared blocks, lots and fields have laid fallow for years (EBDI was established in 2003).

The $1.8 billion program is gearing up to establish an 88-acre mixed use development with mixed income housing blocks,  schools, Johns Hopkins biopark, and actual parks. Oh, and a hotel at Eager and North Wolfe. Yes, you read that right… We trust the EBDI will inform guests to utilize the fitness center rather than strolling north, east or west into (likely debilitated) blocks unacquired by EBDI.

Rumor had it, a couple years back, that a Trader Joe’s was bound for the lot northwest of Johns Hopkins hospital. Could that be in store for the 80,000 square feet of retail promised to East Baltimore, the land where the brave retailers on Monument Street–S&A Dollar Store and Payless Shoes–shut behind bullet proof metal covers after 6pm.

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