West Street merchants seek streetscape improvements Consultants urge city to increase spending

July 31, 1996|By S. Mitra Kalita | S. Mitra Kalita,SUN STAFF

Business owners and urban design consultants urged the Annapolis City Council last night to increase spending on streetscape improvements for the ailing West Street corridor.

Preliminary designs for revitalization of the area show costs may run between $7 million and $10 million, Faux Group designers told the council and a neighborhood advisory committee.

The council allotted $3.2 million in its capital budget for the project.

The designs -- which include the addition of a traffic circle at the intersection of West Street, Taylor Avenue and Spa Road -- depict West Street as a bustling business district and cultural community.

"Our task is to create a public street scape that is a catalyst for private development," said Patricia L. Faux, president of the consulting firm. "We want to create an image and a place that is world-class and can compete with Parole, Bethesda and other employment centers."

Business owners and residents stressed that the council must pay for the improvements or find other ways to raise money to ensure the project is completed.

"West Street holds the key to Annapolis' future growth," said Dick Neville, chairman of the Inner West Street Advisory Committee. "The city must make a complete commitment here."

The Faux Group depicted the West Street corridor of the future as a neighborhood combining Annapolis' colonial identity with a contemporary business twist.

Plans showed city shops along tree-lined streets, public parks and repaved sidewalks in the eight-block stretch. Street lights would be reminiscent of those that hung over the old Severn River Bridge.

Designers also recommended the city remove parking meters along West Street to further encourage shoppers and visitors.

"The idea is to create a fun environment so that people want to come, " designer Christopher Goettge said.

But the need to replace aging and inadequate utilities is helping to drive up the cost of the project, said designer Janet Ford.

Planning and zoning officials said the traffic circle may qualify for state funding as a state-maintained road.

The council's finance committee, designers and planning and zoning officials are to meet next month to search for ways to pay for the revitalization effort.

Council members reacted cautiously to demands that it spend more.

"I am committed to West Street revitalization. This city has put money into that," said Alderman Ellen O. Moyer, a Ward 8 Democrat. "I just want to know if we're going in on faith here."

If the City Council gives her group the green light, Faux said the new West Street will be complete within two to five years.

Pub Date: 7/31/96

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