Baltimore’s new planning director, Doug McCoach, sees transit-oriented development as key tool to re-connect city neighborhoods and promote growth where there is a combination of opportunity and transit accessibility.
The Middle Branch community is a nearby example of such a potential opportunity, McCoach told members of the GBC’s Built Environment and Regional Transportation Committee on April 25.
Formerly an industrial area in south Baltimore, Middle Branch is four times the size of the Inner Harbor and offers open space, water access and an existing transit infrastructure. McCoach views transit-oriented development as a chance to “reknit neighborhoods” that have otherwise been separated due to other infrastructure barriers.
Identifying transit-oriented development opportunities is an element of the GBC’s work toward achieving a comprehensive regional transit system – a top GBC strategic priority. The Brooklyn Gateway Initiative to nurture development and revitalization in south Baltimore is among transit-related projects the GBC is supporting.
The city’s Department of Planning is one of 12 city agencies reporting to Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Andrew Frank. McCoach outlined his strategy to use the new city master plan to tie city objectives to capital investment in an integrated approach to address current and future needs.
His “business plan for a world-class city” includes: rezoning, affordable housing, smooth commutes for current and potential BRAC residents, designation of historic districts and enactment of flood plain and green building design legislation.
Other revitalization projects with key transit elements in the master plan include revitalization of Park Heights in northwest Baltimore; Poppleton and Uplands in west Baltimore; and the neighborhoods on 80 acres north of the planned 2 million square-foot Science and Technology Park at Johns Hopkins in east Baltimore.
A former partner with GBC-member RTKL and with deep roots in his hometown of Baltimore, McCoach brings 23 years in private experience in the architectural design and engineering and a commitment to Baltimore communities.
His goal as planning director is to “develop a strong connection between the Department of Planning and neighborhoods” and “to engage and keep communities involved in the development of their communities for a better quality of life,” McCoach said.