Rotunda owners right to turn the mall inside-out

August 20, 2012

As a resident and small business owner in Charles Village for more than 20 years, I applaud Rotunda owner Hekemian & Co. for advancing and sticking to their plan to turn the mall-styled shopping center "inside out" by re-orienting the stores to face the sidewalks and street ("Rotunda's owners tweak redesign," Aug. 16).

While I greatly respect the views of the city officials who think otherwise, their position in favor of a more traditional, inward-facing mall are not in sync with well established community development best-practices.

For evidence of the positive impact that outward-facing development has on the vitality of community, one could study the work of Jane Jacobs, Leon Krier, Galina Tachieva or Dhiru Thadani — or one could simply look in our own city at the successful development of Harbor East. Where once there were abandoned warehouses and empty sidewalks, there is now a lively and thriving community of people walking and enjoying retail shops, restaurants and theaters — all oriented to the street.

Even the developers of the Towson Town Center understand that outward-facing stores are the way to go. In its most recent expansion, new venues were added which face and open to the street.

Here's hoping Hekemian & Co. remain steadfast in their commitment to upgrading the Rotunda — and the community as a whole — by looking out to the community instead of turning inward and having its back to us.

Steven Rivelis, Baltimore

The writer is CEO of Eye Byte Solutions, LLC.

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