Section of Howard Street will be reopened next week Goal is to reinvigorate downtown retail district

September 06, 1996|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

After almost a decade of being closed to automobiles, a small stretch of Howard Street will be reopened next week to northbound traffic in hopes of reinvigorating the struggling old downtown retail district.

The reopening on Tuesday affects one lane on the section from Baltimore Street to Saratoga Street. The southbound lanes will remain limited to light rail or buses.

"It is important to put cars back on Howard Street to show that Howard Street is alive," said Laurie B. Schwartz, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc.

"We don't want to be out of sight, out of mind," Schwartz added.

The reopening, on a six-month trial basis, was coordinated by the Downtown Partnership, the Mass Transit Administration and the city Bureau of Transportation.

Merchants along Howard Street praised the reopening and expressed hope that business will improve.

"Reopening the street to cars will be a vital step toward adding activity to the area," said Milt Rosenbaum, president of the Market Center Association and owner of Hosiery World on Howard Street.

Cars were banned from the section of Howard Street in the late 1980s for the construction and operation of the light rail line.

Since then, merchants have complained that the area doesn't get adequate street traffic because people can't drive through.

In late 1994, the Howard Street Task Force was formed to look at several ways to rejuvenate once-bustling Howard Street from Camden Yards on the south to the Mount Royal cultural district on the north.

The return of cars is one of the key 20 recommendations issued last October by the task force that are completed or under way to help revitalize the area.

Some of the recommendations included the installation of 16 video-patrol cameras to improve safety, opening Eutaw Place Apartments and a Rite-Aid store, and the expansion of the Maryland Historical Society.

Pub Date: 9/06/96

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