Thursday, May 28, 2015

Baltimore Recovery. What NDC, AIA and CPHA can Do.

It doesn't happen too often that the Baltimore AIA, the Neighborhood design center, CPHA and the BDC (Baltimore Development Corporation) meet and coordinate or come together in one meeting. The aftermath of the Baltimore uprising and the intended "recovery" efforts made it happen.

AIA President Rob Brennan and Executive Director Kathleen Lane heard from BDC's Alex Hutchinson that 370 damaged businesses had been identified and contacted, many of them in need to money and technical support. BDC has an array of grants and funds available for relatively quick, bureaucratic and direct help. (Link). Those immediate loans will be available until June 30. Some will be forgiven entirely if a business will stay in operation for two years. Loan advisors have opened an advice booth in the Penn North and the Highlandtown libraries.

AIA has list of architects standing by for small pro-bono services to assist small store-owners to obtain construction permits from the city. (Sealed drawings are required for commercial work).  BDC has been in contact with KAGRO (Korean merchants) and LEDC (Latino businesses).
Step two, final repairs are needed now. Photo: Baltimore SUN

AIA suggested that a community advisory group would be helpful in overseeing the loan process and any activity associated with the "recovery". Jennifer Goold, executive director of NDC suggested, that Baltimore should not be aiming to return to the status from before the uprising but move forward and improve stores along with the often strained relationship between store owners and residents.

All agree on a longer term strategy that would evolve around North Avenue, an about 4 mile long corridor through blighted ares of Baltimore. NDC had recognized the importance of this spine long before the riots and had started a corridor streetscape project in 2013 that is now in the hands of DOT. Stakeholders and participants in the streetscape project include the Coppin State University CDC, the Druid Heights CDC, the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council and Councilman Mosby's office. Baltimore DOT has instructions to prioritize the project towards working drawings and implementation.

Various ancillary opportunities might well be linked to North Avenue such as development outside the right of way and more efficient ways to run the #13 bus and other transit through the corridor.

There was agreement that the AIA will hold its fall urban design lecture under the tentative title "Open Baltimore" - Unlearning Design of Exclusion towards Design and Planning of Inclusion and Equity."

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

I am a member of the AIA Recovery Working Group and co chair of the AIA Urban Design 

 Committee. Anybody interested can contact me at 

SUN article about recovery help from City Agencies

SUN article about damaged businesses:

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