York Road needs larger retailers to anchor development...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 13, 2000

York Road needs larger retailers to anchor development

As the owner of a small strip of seven stores just south of Belvedere Square and opposite the Senator Theatre for 25 years, I want to respond to the recent letter York Road needs revived square, not big box stores (Feb. 4).

From personal experience, it is apparent that the people around Belvedere Ave. are not supporting local businesses.

Eighteen months ago, we leased space to a man who had worked for Starbucks for use as a coffee shop. Because of a lack of business this past summer the tenant expanded his service to include a full-menu Chinese restaurant and carry out.

To date this tenant is discouraged by the lack of local patronage.

In November, Consolidated Wallpaper, a tenant for more than 25 years, closed because of lack of business.

We have two stores that have been vacant for more than a year. In marketing them, I have found resistance from businesses to locating below Northern Parkway. Their perception is that the area is declining and plagued by crime.

The economics of a neighborhood shopping center requires an anchor, an attraction for repeat weekly shoppers. Small local shops feed off the traffic created by the anchor stores.

Belvedere Square enjoys a location at a major intersection with good demographics, but is dying for lack of an anchor.

The proposed change is the Planned Unit Development plan now before the city council includes a modern supermarket and drug store. This proposal deserves and needs our support

Benedict J. Frederick Jr.

Pasadena

Wiping out citys past is no way to rebuild

As lifelong residents of the Baltimore area, it is disheartening to hear of the plan to demolish the historic properties around the Hippodrome Theater (Anxiety, ire on west side, Jan. 28).

So many eastern cities have become homogenized in their revitalization efforts. It would be a shame to further destroy the unique architecture of our city.

Our vote would be to clean the facades of these old buildings to make them more attractive to possible tenants, but not to destroy them.

J. Gunnar Fisher

Diana Curran

Glen Arm

Having seen Baltimores West Side Story at the Senator Theatre recently, I am impressed by the character of the Lexington Street corridor and the irreplaceable cast-iron facades on some of its buildings.

In my travels around the United States, Ive been disappointed that wherever one goes, the scenery and the shopping and entertainment areas are dominated by chains. Everything is the same, wherever you go.

Why on earth would Baltimore want to contribute to this, instead of maximizing its unique character?

Ann Kirby

Baltimore

Just because former Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III couldn't think past the wrecking ball, doesnt mean the city has to follow that path now that we have a new mayor.

Many of us moved to Baltimore for its treasury of diverse old buildings. I dont think anyone moves here for a parking garage or another monolithic office tower.

In the late 1970s, I heard about Baltimores Salvage Depot for architectural elements such as banisters and doorknobs and mouldings that was once on Edmonson Ave.

You couldnt go there and buy a door and cheat by making it into a coffee table. It had to be used, again, as a door.

But now the city is cheating if it takes Baltimores antique architectural elements such as small stores and alleys, and its old-fashioned mom and pop shops and small entrepreneurs, and wipes them out to create a false new city.

Those old buildings should be sources of civic pride; those entrepreneurs (and their devoted customers) have held the city together for many decades, with no help from city authorities.

A Master Plan should be a cooperative thing, not an insensate reminder of bureaucratic power.

Linda Campbell Franklin

Baltimore

City needs to upgrade visitors center -- soon . . .

Heres a thought for the Baltimore Convention and Visitors Association as it plans the citys new visitors center: As a volunteer at the present center, I would gladly settle for a facility costing half the $7 million they want for the new one, if it could be put in place in half the time (Association unveils visitors center plans, Jan. 16).

The quarters in which we work at present are grossly inadequate, a temporary portable building akin to those used on construction sites.

Our supplies of brochures and other handouts are stored in the lavatory and our public space is so small that, on a busy Saturday in summer, we feel as though we are working in a crowded elevator.

Our mission is to dispense information about Baltimore in a hospitable and helpful manner, so visitors will spread out to the restaurants, museums and historic venues throughout the city.

In our current space, and without appropriate signage directing visitors to our modest facility, we do less than an adequate job.

I urge the Visitors Association to get something less grand, but more functional, in place quickly.

Isaac C. Lycett

Baltimore

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