Charles Village takes first step in renewal plan

Public meetings begin in southern section

February 25, 2000|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Laying the groundwork for an urban renewal plan for South Charles Village, community leaders have begun a series of public meetings.

City planners who attended the first large public meeting Tuesday night said only a common community vision will accomplish the same wonders seen in the revitalized communities of Canton, Federal Hill and Fells Point.

"If you don't get it right, it won't go anywhere," Adrienne Bell, a city planner, said to the audience.

Community leaders expect to have a plan by early summer for the area anchored by the intersection of 25th and Charles streets, the site of a Safeway store and where a CVS drugstore is planned.

Meetings will be held every other week for the next three months, said Daniel Klocke, executive director of the Charles Village Community Benefits District, which is leading the effort.

"Urban renewal" has negative associations based on the 1950s and 1960s clearance models, planners acknowledged. "It's a powerful tool that's been misused," said Jim Hall, a city planner and preservation expert who attended Tuesday's meeting.

Urban renewal now means design guidelines, rehabilitation of historic buildings and encouraging investment.

"We don't have city government coming in with demolition as an objective, and there is community review," Hall said.

In particular, there is a need to clarify design guidelines for retail development, Klocke said, referring to the dispute over the city-approved demolition of 10 buildings to make way for the CVS.

"In three to five years, we want this to be one of the hot neighborhoods of Baltimore," Klocke said.

The next meeting will be from 8 a.m. to 9: 30 a.m. Tuesday at the Charles Village Community Benefits District office, 2301 N. Charles St.

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