Park redesign proposals sought

BDC plans to redevelop Rash Field, put parking garage underground

January 09, 2007|By Todd Richissin | Todd Richissin,Sun reporter

Plans for the park — The Baltimore Development Corp. yesterday asked companies interested in redeveloping Rash Field into a harborside parking garage and recreational area to submit credentials and cost estimates for planning by Feb. 15.

Plans for the park - on the north side of Key Highway across from Federal Hill Park - call for raising it high enough to accommodate a parking garage below, with the park covering the garage.

The BDC's request yesterday called for interested companies to present past projects and approximate design costs.

The company will be selected in March, according to Colin Tarbert, senior economic development officer for the BDC, the city's economic development agency.

That firm will then solicit ideas from city residents and organizations. Construction could start as soon as September, with a goal of completion in time for the return of the Volvo Ocean Race in 2009.

The garage would hold 400 to 500 cars, as city officials see it, serving patrons of the Maryland Science Center, the American Visionary Art Museum, the Rusty Scupper restaurant, Inner Harbor shops and festivals, as well as residents and visitors to Federal Hill.

"The vision for Rash Field is first and foremost to improve the park, to hopefully enlarge the park area and to make more of it usable," said Pete Little, executive director of the Parking Authority of Baltimore City. "The park will conceal the new parking area, giving us two benefits from one project."

The parking garage could cost about $25 million, according to Joann Logan, a spokeswoman for the BDC. She said the scope and complexity of the project have left the costs of the new park unknown.

"We'll find out when proposals come in," she said.

Formally opened to the public in 1976 as The Joseph H. Rash Memorial Park, the 9.4-acre space was designed as the football field for Southern High School, which is on the south side of Federal Hill Park, on Warren Avenue. The school has been converted to condominiums.

A winter ice rink had been a fixture at the site until it was removed in 2003.

Most recently, the park has been a base for trapeze students and beach volleyball players. Little said he hopes those groups will be accommodated in the new design.

todd.richissin@baltsun.com

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