Expert aid sought east of Harbor Consultant: The Baltimore Development Corp. solicited bids from urban designers to coordinate development.

Urban Landscape

March 13, 1997|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

WITH development activity heating up east of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, civic leaders plan to hire an urban design expert to help coordinate it all.

The Baltimore Development Corp. sought bids this year from urban experts who would like to be consultants for the design study, set to begin this spring.

The study area is bounded by the Inner Harbor on the south; Frederick Street on the west; East Baltimore Street on the north; and Central Avenue on the east. Attractions include the old city fish market; the Brokerage at 34 Market Place; the new city police headquarters annex; Museum Row and the Inner Harbor East Metro stop.

City planners want the selected expert to recommend ways to: Improve "physical and perceptual connections" between the Inner Harbor and Market Place attractions, such as the proposed children's museum and Metro station.

Improve links between the Inner Harbor/Market Place and areas east of President Street, including the Baltimore City Life Museums, the Jewish Historical Society, Jonestown and the Flag House Courts public housing property.

Develop an "urban design concept" for a three-block stretch of Market Place from Pratt Street to East Baltimore Street, including pedestrian and vehicular circulation, parking and bus drop-off requirements, and other landscape and streetscape features.

Strengthen features within the study area.

One of the most far-reaching aspects of the study is the decision to include the Flag House Courts property. The decision is a recognition that Flag House Courts occupies an important tract east of the Inner Harbor and should not be ignored. It also represents a change in thinking about the role of public housing in an urban setting.

In past decades, the prevailing wisdom was to wall the public high-rises off from the rest of the city. But planners now believe it is better for public housing residents -- and those who must live or work near public housing -- to acknowledge its presence in the streetscape and make it an integral part of the city.

According to executive director Daniel P. Henson III, the Baltimore City Housing Authority has made a commitment to build 150 residences for public housing residents on the Flag House Court site, after the towers are demolished in 1998 or 1999. The exact configuration of the new housing and other elements of any replacement project are open to study, Henson said.

More than a dozen teams asked to be considered. The finalists included groups headed by: RTKL Associates of Baltimore; Wallace Roberts and Todd of Philadelphia; Cho Wilks Benn Architects, Inc. of Baltimore; Ayers-Saint-Gross of Baltimore; and Notter and Associates with Rhodeside/Harwell, both of the Washington area.

According to the city's schedule, a consultant will be hired in time to finish work by mid-June. The development corporation has budgeted $75,000 to $100,000 for the planning effort.

Mount Clare receives grant

Preservation Maryland, a statewide preservation organization, has awarded $2,500 to the National Society of the Colonial Dames in Maryland to help pay for the installation of exterior storm windows at the Mount Clare Mansion in Southwest Baltimore.

The storm windows will reduce the amount of ultraviolet radiation coming into the Georgian manor house, which dates from 1760.

Other recent Preservation Maryland grants include: $3,150 to the South Mountain Heritage Society, to pay for emergency repairs to an early country general store in Burkittsville; and $2,500 to the First Christian Church in Cumberland, to help reimburse the city of Cumberland for the cost of emergency repairs to the town clock, which is in the church steeple.

Preservation Maryland awarded seven additional grants to fill needs that most likely would not be filled by any other program. Funds went to: The Living Classrooms Foundation, to develop a maritime park on Baltimore's harborfront; Mount Vernon Renaissance and the Charles Street Association, to produce VTC three walking tour brochures; and the Maryland Historic Society, to produce a brochure for the Baltimore Heritage Alliance highlighting historic sites in Baltimore.

Also receiving grants were, the town of Hagerstown, to create a video featuring revitalization efforts in downtown Hagerstown; Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway, to provide telephone lines and a security system to the historic Rodgers Tavern; the Somerset County Historical Trust, to reprint a historic walking tour brochure; and the Valleys Planning Council, to assist with the cost of its appeal of the Hayfields golf course project.

Each year, Preservation Maryland identifies one or more needs as "priority areas" for funding. For 1997, it selected heritage tourism development and legal services engaged to protect endangered historic resources as priorities. June 1 is the next deadline for funding applications.

Pub Date: 3/13/97

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