Baltimore County officials are hoping that a team of residents, developers and government officials will decide the ultimate look of a new development on the old Kingsley Park apartments site - and test a new planning process called for under recently passed legislation along the way.
With demolition on the county-owned complex in Middle River under way, officials say they want to hold a "charrette," or series of community planning meetings, in May or June to decide what will be built there before offering the property for public sale.
The charrette concept is a required piece of County Executive James T. Smith Jr.'s signature proposal for the revitalization of older neighborhoods, which was approved last month by the County Council.
And while it was unclear last week whether the legislation itself - which would allow those participating in the charrette to seek a use other than that specified by the property's current high-density residential zoning - would be used to redevelop Kingsley Park, the county is looking to use at least the same community-intensive process for the planning, officials said.
"Frankly, the charrette gives us the opportunity to walk the walk and say we think involving the community in a meaningful way is a good thing," said Mary L. Harvey, director of the county Office of Community Conservation.
Still, the idea of a $94,000 contract with Baltimore City-based Design Collective Inc. to run the meetings and draw up development plans for the site ran into resistance last week during a County Council work session.
Council members questioned the cost of the contract and the benefit of using the process on a piece of property that has so many government-imposed limitations.
The contract is scheduled for a council vote tonight.
When the county bought the 18-acre site from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last year, it also agreed that any redevelopment would include a certain percentage of affordable homes, Harvey said.
Any low-income senior housing that is built would be part of that percentage, she said.
Despite the limitations, county officials said they believe it will be worth the contract cost to go through the process.
"Absolutely, this will be one we watch very closely," said Smith spokesman Donald I. Mohler III. "We have every expectation that it will be a very successful process."