Five months after a City Council bill was introduced that would allow a local developer to acquire and use two lanes of Redwood Street to build a 34-story office tower downtown, Baltimore's Planning Commission is holding a public hearing this week to consider the pros and cons of the project.
The hearing will be part of the planning commission meeting that begins at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow in the eighth-floor meeting room of the municipal office building at 417 E. Fayette St.
It is part of the review process that a development group headed by Leonard Attman must go through if it wants to secure city permission to acquire two lanes of Redwood Street between Charles and Light streets. The developers are seeking that portion of the street to add to land they already own at the southeast corner of Charles and Redwood streets so they can build their proposed office tower, Baltimore Financial Centre.
The project has drawn opposition from a variety of groups who say that Redwood Street is an important thoroughfare and that even a partial closure would not be in the public's best interest. They say it would set a bad planning precedent and harm the surrounding area by adding to congestion and adversely affecting existing traffic patterns.
Among the opponents expected to testify against the bill tomorrow are representatives for owners of the office buildings at 7 E. Redwood St. and 25 S. Charles St. and the Downunder parking garage on the west side of Charles Street.
Mr. Attman's group has promised to try to address all the concerns of neighboring property owners and to save the Hansa Haus on the northeast corner of Redwood Street if allowed to build into the street. The proposed building, by Ayers Saint Gross Inc., is one of 14 that recently were cited for design awards in the Baltimore AIA's annual awards program.
"The intrusion into the street right-of-way is a positive gesture in making Redwood Street a special place," said the jurors, three architects from out of town.
Those sentiments run counter to opinions expressed by local architects on the AIA's urban design committee, a group that voiced concerns
about the project in a letter sent to the Planning Commission last June.
"We are against the principle involved in this project, not the specific design," the local architects said. "We do not believe in selling public streets for private development in general and are greatly concerned about the precedent such an action may set for the future."
* Around the region:
* Meyers and D'Aleo Inc., a local architecture firm established two decades ago, has changed its name to D'Aleo Inc. The change reflects the departure of partner William Meyers, who left the firm several weeks ago, according to partner Leo D'Aleo. Based in the 1100 block of North Charles Street, the firm has about 20 employees, Mr. D'Aleo said. It is the lead architect for an $18 million ambulatory care center, nursing school and physicians office complex that Union Memorial Hospital plans to build on Calvert Street, north of 33rd Street.
* Interior designer Rita St. Clair opened Findings, a boutique of art objects and other gift items and household accessories, on Nov. 9. The shop is located at 1011 N. Charles St.
* Mariner's Pier One, one of the original restaurants at Harborplace, closed last week. The Rouse Co., the developer of Harborplace, is negotiating with a possible replacement business but has not identified it yet.