Opportunities at Camden Yards Improvements: The construction of the Ravens football stadium has presented chances to beautify the Camden Yards area.

The Urban Landscape

August 22, 1996|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

NOW THAT construction has begun on a $200 million football stadium downtown, Maryland Stadium Authority Chairman John Moag is seeking ideas for improving the entire Camden Yards sports district and the areas around it.

Moag is forming a task force to come up with long- and short-term ideas to help the city and the state take advantage of the second downtown stadium, due to open by mid-1998.

"While the construction of the new football stadium for the Ravens has presented a number of difficulties" for the Stadium Authority, "we need also be mindful of the opportunities presented by stadium construction," Moag said in an Aug. 16 letter to prospective task force members.

In his letter, Moag indicated that he would like the group to look at three areas that are not part of the Stadium Authority's jurisdiction:

The waterfront property between the football stadium site and the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River -- land that is critical to making the Ravens' home a waterfront attraction.

The industrially zoned land on the west side of Russell Street, which could be key to providing needed parking space around Camden Yards.

The city-owned block just north of Camden Station, a possible location for a public park and northern gateway to Camden Yards.

Although the state has "neither the legal authority nor the funds to develop the waterfront area to the south of the football stadium," Moag said, he believes the Stadium Authority has "at least a moral obligation" to aid city planners and others seeking to improve Baltimore's gateway from the south.

The Stadium Authority also needs to investigate properties west of Camden Yards to determine whether they might be viable parking locations, he said.

In an interview this week, Moag said he was particularly intrigued by the idea of creating a public park in front of Camden Station to commemorate Baltimore's bicentennial, as advanced in this column last week.

Members of the Urban Design Committee of the local American Institute of Architects chapter also have proposed that a park be built to replace the parking lot there now and drew up a possible design in 1994.

The city-owned block is bounded by Howard, Pratt, Eutaw and Camden streets.

Moag said he believes the Stadium Authority would be able to create a park there -- and cover all the costs -- if the city made the land available.

The Stadium Authority chairman said he could envision the half-acre property redeveloped to provide two levels of underground parking and a park on top, perhaps with an ice rink, fountain or Tavern on the Green type of restaurant as part of the mix.

He said he had no cost estimates but was confident the Stadium Authority could pay for it using revenues from the underground parking.

"The General Assembly would have to approve anything we did on that site" or elsewhere beyond the state's 85-acre stadium site, he said. But, he added, if the city was willing, "We'll put in the park. We can afford to do it. Now's the time to strike."

Moag invited nine people to join the task force or send a representative. They are Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke; Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos; Ravens owner Art Modell; University of Maryland at Baltimore President Morton I. Rapoport; Waverly Inc. President Edward Hutton; Baltimore Area Conventions and Visitors Association chief Carroll Armstrong; Babe Ruth Museum executive director Michael Gibbons; state transportation Secretary David L. Winstead; and state economic development Secretary James T. Brady.

Moag said he hopes to have the task force's recommendations as soon as possible so that any ideas requiring General Assembly approval can be submitted before legislators convene January.

City planning director Charles Graves said he could not comment on Moag's offer to develop the block in front of #F Camden Station without more details. But he said he welcomed the idea of a task force to explore that idea and others affecting Camden Yards.

"It does make sense that people get together and start to talk about the whole area," he said. "It's something we'd be very interested in."

Pub Date: 8/22/96

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