For nearly 50 years, the old Greyhound bus terminal at Howard and Centre streets was the hub of a transportation network that linked downtown Baltimore with all parts of Maryland.
Yesterday, it was hailed as a new kind of regional hub, the centerpiece of an information network that links Baltimore with the five surrounding counties for planning and policy-making purposes.
Representatives from Baltimore, Carroll, Anne Arundel, Howard and Harford counties joined Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and more than 100 others to mark the official reopening of the Art Moderne-style bus station as the new headquarters for the Baltimore Regional Council of Governments, an independent state agency that gathers data and provides information to help state and local officials make decisions on regional issues.
"We are pleased to welcome the council to [its] new headquarters and to find such a fitting new use for the Greyhound terminal," Mayor Schmoke said. "This move provides important momentum for the redevelopment of the Howard Street corridor and anticipates the growth that the new light rail line will encourage."
The council, which has 43 employees, studies and evaluates transportation, economic development, housing, land-use, environmental and geographic issues to help state and local officials develop a regional agenda.
Its move last month from Charles Street to the Greyhound building at 601 N. Howard St. is seen by many as an indication of Howard Street's potential to become an attractive center for government agencies and others priced out of the more expensive districts.
Designed by well-known bus station architect William Arrasmith and built in 1941, the streamlined terminal was closed in 1987 and acquired by the city after the Greyhound Corp. moved its station to East Baltimore. In 1989, city officials awarded the
property to a joint venture of Bacon and Co. and Struever Bros. Eccles and Rouse, which invested $2.6 million to restore it and lease it to the council. Gould Architects was the designer in charge of the restoration.
Several speakers at the ribbon-cutting ceremony noted the significance of the council's decision to move to a historic building on theline of the 27-mile light rail system from Timonium to Anne Arundel County.
The new location "provides easy access for our regional partners and clients via light rail and gives us an opportunity to expand our role in the community as a regional focal point," said Guy W. Hager, council executive director.