Mount Royal's Comeback

April 28, 1992

The Mount Royal vicinity used to include some of Baltimore's most elite addresses. The chateau-style Winans House, at St. Paul and Preston streets, is just one example of the grand residences that dotted the area in the 1880s. Mount Royal later became a victim of suburbanization and a decline in railroad passenger traffic, which had sustained many of its hotels. Just a decade ago, the area was on the verge of becoming skid row.

The good news this spring is that Mount Royal is coming back in a burst of activity that will transform its image during the next couple of years.

At Charles and Chase streets, a $1 million Mercantile bank branch is rising. Two blocks north, the five-story Robert G. Merrick School of Business is taking shape, one of a number of projects, costing $33 million, being undertaken by the University of Baltimore. During good times and bad, the university has kept Mount Royal alive.

Another institution, the Maryland Institute of Art, is completing its long-awaited dormitory complex at the North Avenue end of Mount Royal Avenue. It should strengthen Bolton Hill, a popular in-town neighborhood, and encourage revitalization in Reservoir Hill to the north.

Meanwhile, rail transportation is coming back. Pennsylvania Station remains an Amtrak gateway. It is also the hub for MARC commuter trains. Soon it will be strengthened by a light-rail trolley link. And work on a 600-car underground parking garage is about to begin. An added bonus will be creation of a grand plaza for vehicles and pedestrians entering the station from Charles Street.

The Mount Royal comeback promises more of everything: apartments, restaurants and shops. Like nearby Mount Vernon, this area, with its excellent cultural and educational institutions, can be an important development anchor.

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