Baltimore's largest development imagined at Pimlico


September 25, 2005|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Sun Architecture Critic

If the horses ever stopped running at Baltimore's famed Pimlico Race Course and the Preakness Stakes moved elsewhere, the 140-acre track site just off Northern Parkway up the hill from Jones Falls could have a bright future, according to urban design experts who have formulated alternate plans for it.

The land occupied by the race course could support a mixed-use community with 1,000 residences and related commercial space, representing a private investment of $250 million or more over the next 10 years, planners say.

Part of the land could include a business park with 1 million square feet of "live / work" space, according to their calculations.

"It could be the largest development in Baltimore," said David Dixon, principal in charge of planning and urban design for Goody Clancy, the Boston-based design firm that led the planning effort.

There is no other comparable opportunity to bring middle-class and upper-middle-class residents to the city, he added.

This vision for Pimlico is outlined in a master plan for the Park Heights community that was commissioned in 2003 by Baltimore's Planning Department.

Goody Clancy headed a design team that prepared the master plan after holding numerous meetings with community residents, city officials and other stakeholders in the Park Heights area during much of 2004. A final report is posted on the city's Web site (

The New Pimlico community was envisioned to be a traditional neighborhood, framed around a network of streets, squares and parks that connect it to adjacent portions of Park Heights. Residences would range in price from $150,000 for a loft condominium to $460,000 for a detached house. The community also would contain rental housing at a variety of prices.

While one development approach might be to create nothing but single family housing as an extension of upscale Mount Washington, Dixon said, members of his team envisioned a "mixed income community" featuring a wide range of housing types and prices, because they believe that's what the city needs and can support.

Today, Dixon said, the housing market is more fragmented than it once was, and that has led to the need for a greater variety of housing types and prices. Besides families with children, he said, there is strong demand from young, single, first-time buyers; unmarried couples; empty nesters, and retirees.

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