Harbor walkway additions near

Work set for summer aims to close gaps in projects

March 05, 2003|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

Baltimore plans to build about a half-mile of waterfront walkway in four sections along the Inner Harbor this summer, helping to close some of the gaps in the city's long-unfinished promenade.

Construction workers will begin more than $20 million in projects in Fells Point and near Federal Hill that, when finished, should make the 7 1/2 -mile brick walkway about 90 percent complete, city officials said.

The promenade, construction of which began more than a quarter-century ago with the Inner Harbor redevelopment, is about 75 percent done from Canton to Locust Point.

Progress has stalled and even moved backward in recent years as developers grumbled about the cost, and a section along Key Highway collapsed.

The Board of Estimates is scheduled to vote this morning on an agreement that would allow public access to about 300 feet of waterfront near where the Belt's Corp. plans to build 240 apartments at 935 S. Wolfe St. in Fells Point.

"One of the things that Baltimore really has to offer is its waterfront, and it's great to open it up to the public," said Scott Hunsicker, senior vice president of Belt's Corp, a warehouse and distribution company.

Robert Quilter, a city planner, said the four projects mark an important step forward. "The great thing is that we are developing the east side of Fells Point, which has really been underserved as far as the promenade is concerned," Quilter said. "We will be closing major gaps."

In June 2001, Gov. Parris N. Glendening agreed to have the state pay half of the nearly $20 million cost of building brick walkways and supporting bulkheads at three development sites:

Adjacent to where the Belt's Corp. plans to build its 240-unit "Swann's Wharf," an apartment complex named after Thomas Swann, a former mayor and president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

Next to the $90 million Bond Street Wharf project in Fells Point, where developers Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse and H&S Properties Development Corp are building offices, stores and apartments.

Near where developer Richard Swirnow plans to invest about $60 million building 88 townhouses on two piers jutting into the harbor near his HarborView tower on Key Highway.

"We will be adding brick walkways with concrete edges, benches, lights and landscaping," said Frank Wise, vice president of HarborView Properties Development Co. "We are trying to get a lot of people to move back into Baltimore and expand the city's tax base."

The state also is helping to pay the more than $2 million cost of building a 450-foot promenade beside where the Living Classrooms Foundation is building a museum to black maritime history, the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park in Fells Point.

"This section of the promenade will be more than just a waterfront park, because it will have a lot of historic interest to it," said John Kellett, director of the Baltimore Waterfront Promenade Partnership.

After the four projects are finished, only a few sections of the waterfront will remain without a public walkway. These include the Allied Signal development site west of Fells Point; the proposed location of a Ritz-Carlton hotel beside Federal Hill; and two sections south of the HarborView tower on Key Highway.

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