Randallstown evaluated for an urban makeover

Design team to formulate, present revitalization plan

October 22, 2003|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

A team of architects, urban planners and landscapers from around the country will be touring Randallstown and talking to residents today in hopes that they can find a way to transform a community dominated by aging strip malls on traffic-snarled Liberty Road into a more vibrant, attractive place.

The tour will begin the process that will culminate with the team's presentation of a revitalization plan Monday.

The effort is Baltimore County's second attempt at employing an Urban Design Assistance Team to create a plan for reviving an aging suburban community. Because the process involves intensive public outreach, officials hope the teams will win more public support than the failed condemnation-for-revitalization plan that was rejected by voters in 2000.

Two years ago, a team visited Dundalk and crafted a plan to capitalize on that community's waterfront, industrial history and traditional village layout. To date, $335,000 in state money has been spent on various elements in the plan.

Those involved in the Randallstown effort see different challenges in turning a commercial corridor into a shopping and dining destination, not just a place to drive through.

"It's not so unusual - this has happened in other places in America," said Fernando Magallanes, a professor of landscape architecture from North Carolina State University who is heading the team. "So the designers we have on the team can begin to address this idea of this road corridor and some of the issues that happen along with it - the aesthetic, the real estate values - and bring in ... a different quality of development."

He said he and nine others will bring an outside perspective, but also listen to residents' wishes.

County Councilman Kenneth N. Oliver, a Democrat who represents the area, said he hopes the process will get developers interested.

"I hope ... we'll get some major department stores on these shopping centers on Liberty Road and an office complex so we can have an excellent lunch crowd of white-collar workers so we can have that restaurant that the community is saying we need," Oliver said.

The team will hold a public meeting tonight from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Randallstown High School, 4000 Offutt Road. Over the course of the week, the group will meet with community leaders and again with the public from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday at the library.

The team is scheduled to present its plan to the public from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday at the Randallstown library.

Randallstown has a rich history and a lot going for it, said Ella White Campbell, a community activist and member of the design steering committee. "It's almost as if Randallstown is a mini-American dream," she said.

The trick, she added, will be making the landscape impressive, too.

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