Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The East Baltimore EBDI Development - Success or Failure?

Many have long concluded that EBDI is a massive failure that can be lumped in with the many other failed large scale "tabula rasa" urban renewal projects. This verdict is largely based on the massive demolition of phase one where every house in the initial development area was leveled and all families and households were relocated.

I would agree that this large scale demolition was a mistake not only running afoul with a memorandum of undertsanding ( MOU) with the Maryland Historic Trust but also destroying too much historic fabric.
2012 demonstration for jobs with the new Hopkins developments
in the background (article)

But the story of EBDI is much more complicated than the demolition. Then and now, the vision is tandem development of biotechnology businesses and housing until a real community is created. A brand-new school exists already, a new park is planned and new housing is by no means all "gentrified" upscale stuff but follows the formula of thirds for affordable, market rate and homeownership.
2013 masterplan as reviewed by UDARP

The partnership of the Casey Foundation and Johns Hopkins unites two powerful organizations with Casey balancing Hopkins interest and augmenting it with the community perspective. Forest City is a nationally known master developer.

With the attention finally again on the state of impoverished neighborhoods and communities, the EBDI project soldiers on and is worth a second look.

The non profit East Baltimore Development Corporation has this as their vision statement:

East Baltimore Development, Inc. (EBDI) is a 501 [c] [3] established by community, government, institutional and philanthropic partners to revitalize, re-energize and rebuild the East Baltimore neighborhood by:
  • Leveraging proximity to the Johns Hopkins medical complex into a stronger economic driver for the neighborhood – increasing investment and employment in medical and life sciences industries but also capturing a greater community contribution from students, employees, faculty and visitors.
  • Making the demolition, construction and development activities undertaken as part of this initiative produce significant economic benefit to residents and businesses of East Baltimore while growing the life sciences industry of Baltimore. 
  • Strengthening and revitalizing greater Middle East Baltimore with institutions and amenities that will encourage former residents to return and new residents to settle in this community.
  • Replacing aging, obsolete, lead-filled houses with new units of mixed income rental and sale that meet the needs of today’s families.
  • And in doing these things, ensuring that those families directly affected by the redevelopment be treated more fairly, more supportively and more respectfully than has yet been the case in projects of this nature across the country.
As the Baltimore Business Journal reports this morning, there are many projects moving forward, not only bio-tech but also in community building. Here’s a list of the projects as compiled by the BBJ:
  • Preston Place, 1700 block of Biddle Street and 1200 block of Gay Street: The Reinvestemnt Fund is leading development of 24 rental units to add to 24 units that are already complete.
  • McDonogh Square at Eager Park, 1100 block of McDonogh Street: Tadessee Associates is rehabilitating 10 units, the first three of which will be available for sale in June.
  • 1000 block of N. Washington Street: Tu Casa Development Group is building three new row houses. The first is already under contract and expected to be completed in July.
  • Eager Park West, 1000 block of McDonogh Street: Eager Park West LLC is rehabilitating 25 units, five of which were completed last year. The next phase breaks ground in June.
  • Windemere LLC, block bound by Rutland Avenue, Eager Street and McDonogh Street. Ron Lipscomb and Greenebaum and Rose Associates plan to construct 49 new, for-sale row houses. The project is under review and is expected to break ground in September.
I would submit that judgment if EBDI is a success or a failure should be deferred until a clearer picture of a new community emerges. It requires a careful review of all the facts, efforts and aspirations.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

I participated through the AIA Urban Design Committee as an adviser to then City Council  Paula Branch Johnson. We developed set of urban design principles. Later my firm ArchPlan Inc. was retained by Sasaki Architects and Planners of Boston to participate in phase two masterplanning. Subsequently my firm was contracted by EBDI to design the rehabilitation of existing historic homes in the phase two of the project. Owners controlled the design and returned into the units upon completion. They received the same funds that residents had received in phase 1 as relocation money.

No comments:

Post a Comment