DPOB vision for downtown; more residents, open space


Taking a loop through Baltimore City, there are noticeable things that can be done to improve structures, create open spaces and generally make the city a more desirable place to visit, work and live. But things are happening now and there is more to come, according to Downtown Partnership of Baltimore leaders.

President Kirby Fowler and Nan Rohrer, vice president for economic development and planning, highlighted upcoming projects and proposals for members of the GBC’s Built Environment & Sustainability committee on Feb. 28.

Various scenarios have been developed for sites ranging from the arena site to Lexington Market to Hopkins Plaza, they said.

The general theme with the Open Space Master Plan all seems to be about breathing life into the city, whether it be restructuring Lexington Market to incorporate more outdoor, street-side shops or — if the arena is demolished — redeveloping it into a park, complete with a bandshell, playground, dog park and retail kiosks.

DPOB received $2 million to begin demolition of a skywalk connecting Hopkins Plaza and Baltimore St., the first step in plans laid out for Hopkins Plaza, which could vary depending on what is decided regarding the arena. Plans for a half park/half development as well as all development have been suggested, but the goal — further reached with the removal of the skywalk — will be to open up sight lines in the city and give the urban landscape a more open feel.

The 2010 Census ranked Baltimore 8th in residential density and 15th in the country in employment density. While a push to move more residents into the city is still in the works, downtown Baltimore can boast 97 percent occupancy rates in its residences with five more residential projects currently in the works to accommodate more. A diverse economy, sustainability and a balance between updating to modern times while also preserving historic sites are all goals DPOB looks to accomplish with their plans.

Goals include increasing the downtown resident population by 130 percent over a 10-year period, 50 percent minority residents.

Operation Storefront, another initiative of DPOB, looks to fill abandoned first-floor real estate with retailers.

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