Responding to an onslaught of criticism, Annapolis officials have drastically changed the boundaries of the proposed "Capital City Arts and Entertainment District" to exclude outer West Street and incorporate inner West Street and the Clay Street area.
The city has also struck the word "entertainment" from the district's name to placate residents who argued it would bring an onslaught of entrepreneurs requesting 2 a.m. liquor licenses. It is now called the "Capital City Cultural Arts Center."
What remains unclear is whether these revisions, offering tax breaks designed to lure artists to live and work there, will garner enough support. The council must vote to form the district before submitting the application to the Maryland State Arts Council, an arm of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development that oversees 15 districts already in the state. The deadline to submit an application is April 1.
If the city delays its application, as some residents are urging, it won't be eligible to apply until at least 2010. Only one jurisdiction from each county is eligible to apply each year, and Brooklyn Park plans to submit its application next year.
Mayor Ellen O. Moyer and Mike Miron, economic development director, are the chief architects of the plan and last month began shopping the idea of transforming the 100 acres from Monticello Avenue to Chinquapin Round Road into a bustling, hip area. They quickly met resistance from people who live along outer West Street, who said the district would alter the character of the largely residential neighborhood.
Robert Waldman, a member of the Germantown-Homewood Civic Association, said during a public hearing at Monday night's council meeting that he is "concerned with the speed at which we are going" and that the proposal required "the chance to see, chew on it and put a lot of eyes on it."
Waldman proposed excising a portion of the latest proposal, which includes larger parcels that are home to car dealerships and a Gold's Gym - something the mayor said she was open to discussing. He also said the proposal, which now covers only 55 acres, warrants a sector study.
Several residents from the Murray Hill neighborhood said they learned of the new proposal late last week and have not had enough time to examine the ramifications of the designation.
"We want to know what the proposal is and understand it," said Denise Worthen, president of the Murray Hill Residents Association.
Moyer urged those residents to meet with Miron and the council's Economic Matters Committee, to which the resolution on the subject has been referred.
"They didn't offer any alternatives, but a whole host of questions," Moyer said, adding, "Between now and then, if there are people of goodwill, there is time to address the concerns."
Meanwhile, many residents of Clay Street, a historic and historically black community that has fallen into decline, are "ecstatic" to be included in the proposed district because it would offer "incentives that we desperately need," said Don Lamb-Minor, president of the Clay Street Community Association.
"We envision a community that could thrive again," Lamb-Minor said.