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Old March 24th, 2007, 05:39 AM   #2221
MountVEE
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You are welcome. Regarding price range, you never know. It will be more affordable than some of the other rental programs in downtown.
Sweet! I'm an young architect that's not quite ready for a mortgage and I've really been in the market for a sleek, modern, urban living space. I'll stay tuned!
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Old March 24th, 2007, 05:56 AM   #2222
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It might be that the apartments themselves are unexpectedly affordable, but that parking is exhorbitant, say like and extra $120-150 per month. Perhaps affordability at the Zenith could be acheived without auto posession, since there's nowhere else to park but other downtown garages.

Nate
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Old March 24th, 2007, 09:26 AM   #2223
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Building a top notch airport is great and having Southwest is great but if we're going to land new international service, we have to offer incentives for foreign carriers to come. I'm not saying that the state should pay for advertising and offer incentives forever but if we land a new carrier and then they pull up stakes a year later, it leaves a lasting impression that's worse than if they never flew to BWI at all. All I'm saying is, if we attract a new carrier, the state should offer free advertising for a few months to get them off to a good start. Don't tell me that you don't believe that the state has a vested interest in seeing a new carrier succeed? And this is where they have largely failed in the past. BWI is still served well but for the past few years it's been all about Southwest. Just look at the concession choices you have once you past security at the international terminal. I think that should we land just one flight to continental Europe and maintain it along with our existing service, this would be a catalyst for growth. Just because you build it doesn't mean they will come.
Isn't Southwest mulling over starting international service? I keep seeing that from time to time. If that happens, it puts BWI in a very good position indeed. BTW, Icelandair has now resumed service for the season. I have seen some of their flight crew in my store recently...they stay at the Sheraton near the Annapolis Mall.
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Old March 24th, 2007, 02:59 PM   #2224
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That building is SO hot. I'm dying to see Interior shots. I hope it's ultra-modern. Despite the sketch-y desolate west side neighborhood I bet it'll be really over-priced.
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Old March 24th, 2007, 03:01 PM   #2225
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Incentives battle leaves Md. in dust

(Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox)
Bruce Willis’ thriller “Live Free or Die Hard” was filmed in part in Baltimore. Maryland (Map, News) - In a war of incentives to lure film productions to cities around the country, Maryland is treading water to remain competitive.


“The administration and the General Assembly have been very supportive, but we are losing ground,” said Hannah Byron, assistant secretary for the Department of Business and Economic Development. “We are behind our competition in terms of having a tax credit incentive program and states like Connecticut, Mississippi and Louisiana are gaining ground,” she said.

Jack Gerbes, director of DBED’s Office of Film, agreed. “We have the locations, but it’s not about location — it’s about incentives.”

Gerbes pointed to “Annapolis,” a film about the Naval Academy being shot in Philadelphia, and the musical remake of Baltimore native John Waters’ Baltimore-set “Hairspray” — which is being shot in Canada because of attractive tax credits.

In the last decade, Maryland’s film industry has added $770 million to the state’s tax base, including more than $158 million in 2006 alone, making it a major part of the state’s economic war chest. But somehow these numbers seem to have escaped Maryland delegates, who Wednesday voted to slash Gov. Martin O’Malley’s fiscal 2008 funding level of $6.875 million for the state’s Film Wage Rebate program (the same as last year), to $4 million.

“The governor was certainly disappointed that the House cut the funding and is hopeful that it will be restored in the final budget,” said Rick Abbruzzese, the governor’s press secretary. “The industry is incredibly competitive. Last year all the funds were used by film projects in Maryland so the demand is there.”

The Senate, however, supports keeping the current funding levels for the program. “The way it works is that after filming is complete, film companies apply for the rebate,” said State Sen. David Brinkley, R-Carroll County. “We estimate that for each dollar they spend the state earns $20 in tax benefits.”

Despite the cut, the House unanimously approved lifting a $2 million rebate cap per production based on wages, in favor of a rebate package based on the total production costs of films, commercials and animations in excess of $500,000, which is in line with other programs across the nation.

The rebate package excludes sports broadcasts, talk shows and student films.

However, Byron recognizes that more has to be done.

“We will be looking at various tax credit programs to see which ones we can emulate here in Maryland,” she said.

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Old March 24th, 2007, 04:04 PM   #2226
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Hey, we may have already hashed this out before, but, what was finally decided, (if there's been some kind of decision of any kind), on the huge State Center project?
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Old March 24th, 2007, 04:36 PM   #2227
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Anything other than townhouse projects get delayed...
based on what? and during what time period, if any? Thx.
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Old March 24th, 2007, 05:08 PM   #2228
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Calling all posters!
Roll call!
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Old March 24th, 2007, 09:03 PM   #2229
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Calling all posters!
Roll call!
"present"
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Old March 24th, 2007, 09:06 PM   #2230
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a bit off topic....
... a while back we weere discussing live entertainment in this town. here's your chance to support some local music. my band, echoSeven, is playing at the red star tavern in fells point tonight. the red star is trying to establish themselves as a music venue. your support will not only help the band, but will prove to the pencil pushers that live music is a viable business decision.

hope to see you there!

thanks
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Old March 24th, 2007, 09:13 PM   #2231
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Cool.
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Old March 24th, 2007, 11:04 PM   #2232
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Hey, we may have already hashed this out before, but, what was finally decided, (if there's been some kind of decision of any kind), on the huge State Center project?
I think the answer is no for now. I don't think anything is firm. Before the election, it seemed as though cooler heads were prevailing and the question of how to deal with an expensive project that would sit right next to "The Projects" (the other kind of project) had not been resolved. If it is thought to remove the McCullogh homes there will be lots of protest and media about that. Secondly, based on the WTC affair, it appears that the O'Malley administration isn't as eager to sell State property as was Ehrlich. Whatever momentum was left after those 2 factors seems to have been sapped by the current real estate market. I don't expect to see anything happening for at least a few years, if at all.

As for the roll call, I'm present but totally unaccountable.
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Old March 25th, 2007, 12:02 AM   #2233
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based on what? and during what time period, if any? Thx.

Based on my anecdotal recollection over the last 7 to 8 years since I've been paying attention to City development, that never has any office/condo/apt/hotel ever started when they initially say they are going to start or fininshed when they said.

I may well be wrong, but the instances would have been certainly few and far between!

Nate

(Yes, I'm here. If the fate has it I might head down to Red Star, but my date plans have me in Mt. Vernon, tentatively with a last stop at the Spy Club )
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Old March 25th, 2007, 12:04 AM   #2234
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I think they may be planning another charette for State Center.

Also, I think developing that spot was sort an attempt to immpress the FTA as far as land development around existing transit systems for future construction of systems.

Nate
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Old March 25th, 2007, 12:13 AM   #2235
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very interesting points, guys.
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Old March 25th, 2007, 01:38 AM   #2236
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Doesn't seem to make much sense developing State Center w/o addressing McCulloh Homes. Would the Housing Authority "run out the string" there--i.e. board up properties rather than replacing tenants who move on--until no one's left to protest the project's redevelopment?

OT but FYI: Critique of 10 IH in this month's Urbanite:

http://www.urbanitebaltimore.com/sub...&articleID=624

Well, more polemic, throat-clearing, and grumbling than critique. Question for users, though: would you rather have what Stern's proposing for Philly or Baltimore on the skyline?
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Old March 25th, 2007, 05:37 AM   #2237
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I'm actually not impressed with either Stern work. I would be indifferent. I wouldn't mind Baltimore's glass tower version, as a matter of fact, and it's hard to say it would be inconsistent with Baltimore's skyline because, well, our buildings are inconsistent. We have everything from graceful structures like 100 E. Pratt to hideous messes like the Federal Building, too, eh, just plain wierd in 111 S. Calvert St. I will hold out on any final comment until the final sketches are released. Generally, I'm with Nate in being most concerned about the ground-level portion of the building. What will it do for the neighborhood and to improve the urban experience of the Western Inner Harbor? - That's the question we have to ask.
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Old March 25th, 2007, 05:56 AM   #2238
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New arena would suit Baltimore well
Venue could host NCAA tournament games as well as other events


Enough area basketball fans and observers said it while walking around HSBC Arena last weekend to make it more than a fleeting thought by a niche audience:

"If Buffalo can host the NCAAs, why can't Baltimore?''

The answer, of course, is simple: you have to have a decent building to play in, and this city has everything but that -- and its building hardly qualifies as "decent.''

With no disrespect intended to the hosts of the first- and second-round games of the men's basketball tournament last weekend -- and that disclaimer was repeated in all sincerity by the aforementioned audience -- the only thing Buffalo's downtown area has that Baltimore doesn't is an arena.

Of course, we're back where we were a year ago, in the middle of March Madness and smacked in the face by tournament action that swerves around Baltimore and lands seemingly everywhere else. Last March it was Philadelphia's Wachovia Center and Verizon Center in downtown Washington.

This time, Maryland and seven other schools traveled to drab, bone-chilling Buffalo, thin on top-notch hotels and nearby amenities but packed for four days with visitors who were more than willing to add vibrancy to the landscape, dollars to the local economy and buzz to the city's intangibles.

Nothing there compared to the Inner Harbor. But nothing here compares to HSBC, which drew crowds of nearly 19,000 for most of the six games. Certainly not the venerable (a better adjective than "crusty") 1st Mariner Arena, now 45 years old and 34 years removed from its last real basketball glory days, when the Bullets pulled out for Landover. This place outlasted the Capital Centre, and that's not a compliment.

This time last year, as well, a feasibility study for a downtown arena was in the works, commissioned by the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and the stadium commission arm of the Maryland Stadium Authority. That study is now complete, and is being circulated to city and state officials, and proponents of the arena are staying mum on the report's details until it can gauge the reaction from the politicians.

A presumed plus in their column: Martin O'Malley, former mayor of B'more, is in the governor's chair now.

The final word would come from the politicos, and news of any kind about it likely won't come any earlier than the summer, if then. The study simply breaks down for them the costs and benefits, potential locations, and how much work, time and resources would be needed to add a venue that could host basketball, concerts, circuses, conventions and other indoor events to the baseball and football stadiums that anchor downtown.

The void left by the absence of a strong basketball presence in a definite basketball town, is even more obvious at this time of year, when the game is king everywhere but here.

1st Mariner's management company, SMC, still works miracles to bring events to the building. But imagine what it might bring with a dramatically upgraded facility as a lure.

Imagine a building in the state's marquee city hosting the boys and girls high school basketball championships, or the private school championships, or both. The occasional Maryland men's and women's game (the area has enriched those programs with a little talent over the years). Games featuring the other area schools -- Towson, Morgan, Coppin, Loyola, UMBC, even all of them at once in an annual tournament.

Plus, all-star charity games featuring pros and celebrities -- last summer, Carmelo Anthony and Sam Cassell both envisioned such a game some day, even at 1st Mariner. Ray Lewis' summer event is spread everywhere from Martin's West to the Hippodrome, so why not to a state-of-the-art downtown spot?

That's not even to mention other sports, like indoor soccer -- that brings Blast and 1st Mariner owner Ed Hale into the picture, and he still has property in Canton that works as a possible location. Or indoor lacrosse, or arena football. Or ice skating. Someone from around here is a pretty good figure skater, Kimmie something.

Or the NCAA tournament, in regular rotation. Buffalo hosted games last week for the third time in eight years. Certainly a mid-major conference represented in the area would jump at placing its tournament here as much as it does for Richmond, Hartford or Raleigh.

And if you want to dream big...NCAA regionals and the Final Four. Or the ACC tournament. If you're into really wild fantasies, an NBA team.

That would take a building capacity whose cost would outstrip the benefits the city would get from it -- and Wizards owner Abe Pollin would lie down in front of the buses bringing a team to town before he'd allow competition that close. It's a pipe dream.

Too bad, because NBA teams have hardly stopped shopping themselves around. The Nets will be in Brooklyn in a couple of years. Some team is going to wind up full-time in Oklahoma City eventually. Probably Kansas City, too, because a downtown arena is under construction now. And Las Vegas is just a matter of time.

Baltimore would get bypassed again.

It's a real relief to know that people in power in the city, and state, are taking this seriously. They recognize that the city that knew it deserved to keep the Orioles and to have the NFL back, also deserves a venue for basketball that it can be proud of.

Here's to finally filling that void, and to someday filling this downtown area with basketball fans, instead of D.C.'s, or Philly's -- or Buffalo's.

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Old March 25th, 2007, 05:57 AM   #2239
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Steven, you beat me to it, lol.
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Old March 25th, 2007, 05:57 AM   #2240
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By: Adam Gordon

Of the many charms I found in my three years living in Baltimore, very few were located in the downtown core. Sure, I’ll admit that there is something kind of nice about the Inner Harbor. But at the point at which Light Street turns from the charming commercial drag of Federal Hill into a six-lane highway, one could be excused for imagining being in downtown Houston instead of in the supposed center of one of America’s most historic cities.

Touted as Baltimore’s new tallest building—its 700-plus feet will be about one-third taller than the Legg Mason Building—10 Inner Harbor will make the downtown situation even worse. Its sleek, gray exterior could fit quite well in downtown Charlotte or Dallas. Its angular shape, which The Baltimore Sun described as a parallelogram, threatens to break one of the most endearing features of the city’s skyline as seen from local vantage points (my favorite: the southern approach to the Harbor Tunnel). It will muddy the strong sense that, despite all of the wacky designs that predominate in the architectural morass downtown, the city still retains moorings in its historic grid (which, last time I checked, was not parallelogram-shaped). And its drab grayness breaks another good skyline feature: the dominance of reds and blue-greens (even if sometimes only in slight tinges as in the Legg Mason Building) that bring to mind the city’s rowhouses and water.

It’s an odd turn for Robert A. M. Stern, the project’s architect and the dean of the Yale School of Architecture, who has staked his reputation on contextual building and planning. That context has been evident in Stern’s great work, like the initially dismissed but ultimately successful master plan for New York’s Times Square, as well as lesser work like the plan for Disney’s new town of Celebration, Florida (which, though terrifying to experience, sure does scream Disney.) In contrast, 10 Inner Harbor has no context. It could be anywhere.

That said, this project isn’t all bad. As of press time, the proposed 1.3 million square foot (think the Mall in Columbia-size) building is the right size for the site, despite objections from neighborhood groups. The cat is well out of the bag for large-scale development in the area—the site is entirely surrounded by superblock-scale building instead of traditional neighborhoods. The former McCormick factory and current parking lot is a perfectly reasonable place to add a tall building that will bring more people—both permanent residents in the proposed 285 condos and guests in the 192-room hotel—to the often empty streets of downtown. The first-floor retail will help fill a dead zone along streets like Charles and Conway that, due to their location between the Inner Harbor and Camden Yards, should be bustling—one can reasonably hope that the retail will spur even more retail in this area. I hope that the inclusionary zoning bill developed last year by a city task force and reputedly close to passage will be in place in time for a few of those condos to go to people with moderate incomes, to give a few more ordinary Baltimoreans an opportunity to live by the Harbor. But the uses and scale are otherwise basically on target.

Still, I just can’t shake the sense that this isn’t a Baltimore building. It’s designed more to show outsiders that Baltimore can play the big building and serious downtown game too, thank you. The developer, ARC Wheeler, frames the project as its “second ‘10’ brand project where mixed-use elements located on significant parks or waterfronts include luxury condominiums, high-end retail, celebrity restaurants, a destination spa, and a boutique hotel.” This is silliness—Philadelphia’s 10 Rittenhouse Square, the first “significant park or waterfront” in the brand, has about as much in common with the Inner Harbor as a Philly cheesesteak has in common with a Baltimore crab cake. But local officials like Baltimore Development Corporation President M. J. “Jay” Brodie gush over it, seeing it as a sign that Baltimore has achieved “real city” status like Philadelphia (which, by the way, is getting a much better-designed Stern building that will fit quite well into that city’s skyline). But wasn’t “real city” status the whole point of then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer’s massive downtown redevelopment in the early 1980s? It’s a different era now. Baltimore has proven that it can carry out big developments of national significance (Harborplace, Camden Yards, etc.); it now needs to build on its strengths with some level of self-confidence, not just take a mediocre design simply
because it’s tall and has the Stern imprint.

This important Baltimore site deserves a building with a Baltimore feel. What might that mean? One way to answer that question is through posing another, time-honored Baltimore question: WWJRD? (What Would James Rouse Do?) Having failed to find a way to communicate with the dead by deadline, I did the next best thing and asked Lehr Jackson, the local urban retail visionary who figured out for Rouse how to make Harborplace’s commercial space work.

Jackson agreed that, whatever Rouse would have done, it would not have resembled this.

“It’s like an alien came and landed in Baltimore,” Jackson said. “It’s totally out of context with everything else that’s been designed. Just to be out of scale for out-of-scale’s sake is the wrong premise.”

Instead, Jackson envisioned a design that could have incorporated all of the uses that ARC Wheeler wanted, but fit in much better with its surroundings. He would have made a “C-shaped courtyard facing the water” and started along Light Street with a seven-story structure with a strong retail component that would have then scaled up with a mix of office and residential in either one large tower or two or three smaller towers going back towards Charles Street. As he talks, one can picture tourists stumbling out from their meals at Phillips and finding an inviting courtyard across the street, enticed to cross the six-lane highway to see what was on the other side, perhaps even wandering on towards Otterbein and Federal Hill.

But alas, the real-life development will do little to attract the tourists, or make more people “believe” in Baltimore. Baltimore’s development officials have been congratulating themselves in the press for having demonstrated Baltimore’s arrival in the league of real cities by landing a Stern tower. But the building just cements the second-rate status of downtown Baltimore: While the established major cities get Stern’s good work, like 10 Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, Baltimore gets this cookie-cutter incongruous hulk.

It may be folly to expect downtown to drive Baltimore’s future in the first place: The city will live or die in its neighborhoods, at the corner where I used to live at Fort and Light and thousands of corners like it. Still, the McCormick site could have been, and perhaps still can be, done better. While the city’s Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel (UDARP) granted conceptual approval in February 2006, the site’s developers at press time were still tinkering with details of the building, and UDARP needs to give final approval before the building goes up. Details matter in design, and UDARP would be well-advised to look carefully at how the tower will fit into the city’s streetscape and skyline before granting final approval.

—Adam Gordon is cofounder and editor-in-chief of the The Next American City (www.americancity.org). He lived in South Baltimore and Charles Village from 2000 to 2003, while working for the Baltimore Regional Partnership.
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