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Old June 11th, 2007, 07:41 AM   #4161
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I always hated driving roundabouts when visiting New England and was not too happy when they showed up here.
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Old June 11th, 2007, 07:53 AM   #4162
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Before any roundabouts become reality, I really hope the traffic engineers do their homework. I love a good roundabout, especially an Italian or Parisian traffic circle with a piazza or monument in the center, but when implementing roundabouts to cure traffic woes, Baltimore has been less than successful. I believe the roundabout at Charles and Bellona in Baltimore County is about to be done away with, and the roundabout in Towson is about to undergo a major facelift.
.
The charles and Bellona one ios one of the few roundabouts that i think works. Surprising to see it go.
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Old June 11th, 2007, 02:45 PM   #4163
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HarborView proposal upsets neighbors
Developer wants to build two more waterfront towers

By Jill Rosen, Sun reporter, Originally published June 11, 2007

A plan by HarborView to build two more waterfront towers - despite having exhausted its construction options on the South Baltimore site - has aggravated long-standing tensions between the prolific developer and Federal Hill area neighborhoods. People who live south of HarborView, with its hundreds of luxury homes that multiplied at the water's edge in the past two decades, are urging city leaders not to indulge a developer who they say has blocked views, hung no-trespassing signs, violated height limits and defied stop-work orders.

In an attempt to defuse the community's skepticism - which hit new heights last week when city planners attempted to broker a compromise with HarborView without its knowledge - Mayor Sheila Dixon has invited neighborhood leaders to a meeting today. "The developer knew the rules of the game, and now he wants to change the rules," said Bill Vandyke, a Federal Hill resident.

"The opportunity to preserve sightlines was lost. You can't see the water."

The City Council is weighing HarborView's $100 million skyline-altering plan. To build two new condominium towers, each to be 26 stories tall, developer Richard A. Swirnow needs the council to let him cover more of the lot's surface and to build towers closer together than the original 1980s urban renewal plan allows.

According to that plan, Swirnow will use up his space when he builds The Pinnacle, a recently approved 17-story condo building, where the most expensive suite is expected to cost $7 million. Swirnow argues that he's entitled to the third and fourth high rises because the 1980s plan gave him permission to build six tall buildings. Although during the weak 1990s real estate market he built mainly townhouses, using up his allotted space, Swirnow insists he still has a right to the towers.

The community has "no rational objection to this because it's a much better plan than was ever envisioned," said Frank Wise, HarborView's vice president. "It will be far, far, far, far less dense than was ever provided for."

With additional towers in mind, more than a year ago HarborView asked city Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano to waive the Key Highway urban renewal plan regulations. That way the developer could avoid the unpredictable City Council hearing process. Graziano declined, saying the exception was too great a departure from the original plan.

Politics was also a consideration. At the time, the community, Key Highway property owners and city planners were immersed in a tug of war over the future of the still-industrial, southern leg of the corridor - a struggle that continues today, with the parties seemingly incapable of agreeing how the land should evolve.

The suspicions and bad feelings came to a head last summer when the city issued a stop-work order on the Pier Homes at HarborView - but only after neighborhood activists repeatedly pointed out that structures being built on the roofs that were supposed to house only mechanical equipment were being advertised as penthouses with wet bars.

Swirnow ignored the stop-work order and, to the community's disgust, the city ultimately decided the developer could not only keep the built penthouses, but also keep constructing new ones after paying a $10,000 fine.

With that history, HarborView's latest request is not sitting well with neighborhood activists or the politicians who represent South Baltimore. A hearing Thursday before the council's urban affairs committee turned ugly when opponents to HarborView's plan discovered that while they were meeting with top officials to discuss a compromise idea, city planners were signing the deal with the developer.

"I've never been more embarrassed about my city government than sitting here listening to this," said state Sen. George W. Della Jr. "The planning department sits down with them in the backroom and enters into an agreement - I think that's outrageous."

Deputy Mayor Andy Frank, who along with Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake met with residents before the hearing to talk about the compromise concept, apologized later for the mix-up, saying "the intentions were good, the execution was poor." What Frank wanted to do was get HarborView to agree to preserve about 30,000 square feet of open space at a different spot on Key Highway in exchange for permission to build the two additional towers.

"We were attempting to exact a concession that was hard-fought," Frank said. "I know the community will dismiss it as an insufficient amount. And we can debate that." Community leaders scoffed at the deal almost immediately, saying the bulk of the preservation area is a leg of Webster Street, which is already public property.

"It's a shell game," says Federal Hill activist Jim Keat, who opposes HarborView's plan. "It's sleight of hand." Meanwhile, the owner of the property right next to where the southernmost tower would be complains that it would not be fair to allow HarborView to build to 290 feet if he is limited to a fraction of that.

"There's a fundamental inequity in the city's planning process," said Al Barry, who represents Obrecht Commercial Real Estate. "If I were paranoid, I'd think there was collusion between the city and HarborView so that they could buy [the land] for a lesser value than it's worth." Wise says he doesn't understand how there could be such opposition to buildings that would enhance the city's skyline and tax base.

He shows off photo after photo of the HarborView community - pointing in particular to the lush landscaping and water features that embellish the property. When the community complains that they can't enjoy those things because HarborView feels like a gated community thanks to intimidating no-trespassing signs, Wise tells them they're always welcome and that the new buildings will be "even more welcoming."
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Old June 11th, 2007, 03:12 PM   #4164
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New arena, new opportunity
By Raymond Daniel Burke
Editorial, Baltimore Sun, Originally published June 11, 2007

While the Howard Street department stores were gearing up for the 1964 fall shopping season, a worldwide phenomenon descended on the Holiday Inn on Lombard Street - then distinguished by its revolving rooftop restaurant - when it played host to the Beatles during their performances at what was called the Civic Center, now 1st Mariner Arena.

The downtown department stores have long gone, of course, but the arena remains and, despite some cosmetic renovation, is substantially the same facility that provided the venue for Baltimore's brush with the Fab Four nearly 43 years ago. Now a report commissioned by the Maryland Stadium Authority has concluded that the building has "served its useful life" and should be replaced. Such a recommendation is long overdue.

Inherent deficiencies limited the usefulness of this facility from the beginning. Its rectangular configuration entirely ignored the concept of sightlines, and a permanent stage dominates one entire end. The boxy envelope also meant that many seats have obstructed views, causing the National Hockey League to abandon plans for a Baltimore franchise. Some planned features fell victim to budget cutting, most notably a sliding roof for open-air events. The building's weird roofline is all that remains of that design idea. Capacity was also limited to something less than 12,000.

These fundamental problems can never be entirely corrected by renovation, and they have been joined over time by the glaring absence of what are now considered standard amenities. While it remains an active host for ice shows, circuses and the undeniable fun of indoor soccer, the arena is woefully inadequate as a site for today's major shows and concerts, professional and collegiate sports, and the largest conventions and trade shows. All of these events now bypass Baltimore.

That is significant, because downtown Baltimore today is economically dependent on its ability to attract recreational dollars. The old engines of commerce have been replaced by entertainment and tourism. That was inconceivable in 1964, but it is a fact of life now, thanks to the rejuvenation of the Inner Harbor, the building of the Convention Center and the redevelopment of Camden Yards as a sports complex. Having thus jumped headlong into the saving waters of a vibrant service economy, we are, like it or not, in a competition with many other cities that have adopted the same economic strategy. In this context, the absence of a viable indoor facility is a severe disadvantage.

The NCAA men's basketball tournament pumped March Madness dollars into such places as Winston-Salem, N.C.; Spokane, Wash.; Lexington, Ky.; and Columbus, Ohio - all cities without any major-league sports franchises but with arenas that provide a desirable venue. The potential payoff from a regular schedule of such events, as well as large-scale conventions, is immeasurable. In fact, the lack of a competitive arena vastly diminishes the benefits of having invested in a fine convention facility.

It is encouraging that the process of moving forward with a new arena has, at long last, begun. However, the stadium authority report has two significant shortcomings.

First, it recommends a seating capacity of 15,000 to 16,000. This is based on the expressed assumption that Baltimore will never attract a major-league basketball or hockey franchise that would require something close to 20,000 seats. This logic smacks of the same shortsightedness that doomed the original Civic Center planning. Potential sports tenants should not be the sole consideration when it comes to capacity. Major concert tours, conventions and trade shows now fill the nation's largest arenas. Indeed, some entertainers, who previously tried to fill stadiums, find it much more desirable to perform in 18,000-to-20,000-seat arenas, where they can schedule more shows and offer a better-quality production.

Moreover, to say the city will never have the opportunity to return to the NBA or join the NHL is an attitude that screams "minor league," and is reminiscent of those who insisted we would never have another NFL franchise after the Colts' departure.

The report also fails to identify a location. There are some who see the arena as an opportunity to bring growth to a newly developing area with readily available highway access. But the arena should not be designed with automobiles primarily in mind. Its importance in the fabric of the city, and the justification for public investment, is the pedestrian traffic that it would generate for all surrounding businesses and attractions, as well as its use in conjunction with the Convention Center.

For those reasons, a downtown location is essential. It would be foolish to build a new facility and place it where the attendees would never leave the parking lot. That is what the Capital Centre was in Landover, generating no spillover economic benefit. When we were trying to attract an NFL franchise, some, for traffic reasons, proposed building the stadium at the Beltway and Interstate 95. Imagine all we would have lost without the excitement of Ravens football downtown.

Let's do this right and not repeat the mistakes of the early 1960s that left us with a weird roofline and a white elephant as an enduring testament to our lack of vision.

AMEN!
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Old June 11th, 2007, 03:32 PM   #4165
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This was a spot-on commentary. I found myself nodding my head through the whole thing. I also found myself wondering if it was written by one of our forumers. It mirrored our thoughts almost perfectly.
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Old June 11th, 2007, 03:33 PM   #4166
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I always hated driving roundabouts when visiting New England and was not too happy when they showed up here.
Have become addicted to roundabouts since commencing a temporary exile in New England. It's so bad, I'll go out of my way to hit the Towson roundabout when I'm back in town.
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Old June 11th, 2007, 03:35 PM   #4167
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This was a spot-on commentary. I found myself nodding my head through the whole thing. I also found myself wondering if it was written by one of our forumers. It mirrored our thoughts almost perfectly.
True. Although, there's been some commenting on behalf of a 15-16K seat arena in the arena thread.
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Old June 11th, 2007, 03:43 PM   #4168
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Originally Posted by 30 Floors Up View Post
HarborView proposal upsets neighbors
I find this headline redundant. The name "HarborView" implies an upset Federal Hill neighborhood association.

In all seriousness, I'm not sure who I hope comes out on top with this one. HarborView has played some dirty tricks in the past, and I certainly don't think they should be rewarded for it, but I almost don't blame them given the militant attitude of the Federal Hill nimbys. I just don't think the Federal Hill residents' reasoning is very strong, and I don't think poor logic should some out on top simply because it has a large and dedicated following.

The paper version of the Sun has a graphic of where the new towers would be located. Opposite to what I was thinking, they won't be right next to each other, but rather on opposite sides of the property, so I'm guessing will get two, at least somewhat different, designs. Both parcels are kind of hour-glass shaped, but they're not identical. Should be interesting.
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Old June 11th, 2007, 03:45 PM   #4169
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True. Although, there's been some commenting on behalf of a 15-16K seat arena in the arena thread.
You're right. I guess I should say that it mirrored some of the ideas thrown out almost perfectly. Either way, I thought it was a well-written article. Whether this author's ideas are adopted or not, I hope city officials are taking into consideration many of the same things that this author did.
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Old June 11th, 2007, 04:27 PM   #4170
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I've been thinking about this new arena and as crazy as this sounds, I think one option would be to demolish Lexington Market and put the new arena there. The market we have now was built in the 1950's so it is not historic.

The first floor of the new Arena could be the new and improved Lexington Market, and the arena could be built above it.

This would serve several purposes. We would get an all new market and vendor sales should go up due to incrased traffic. The Market is at the convergence of numerous public transportation lines and it is near major highways. It would help the Superblock because all that shopping will be but a block away from the arena. Also, that site is in the middle of the west side and thus it should produce spin off development.

The lot south of the market is vacant though the U of M is wanting to build a hotel there. That project could go on another site near by.

The market has a huge relatively new parking garage, so the increase in costs for the new market would be canceled out by not having to construct parking. Perfect I think.

Last edited by 30 Floors Up; June 11th, 2007 at 05:20 PM.
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Old June 11th, 2007, 04:31 PM   #4171
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Great article about the arena. I also wonder if it was written by somebody who has read these very message boards.
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Old June 11th, 2007, 05:11 PM   #4172
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I've been thinking about this new arena and as crazy as this sounds, I think one option would be to demolish Lexington Market and put the new arena there. The market we have now was built in the 1950's so it is not historic.
Two-three years w/o Faidley's would be painful. ;-)

Seriously, does anyone know what the minimum footprint for a 19K-20K seat arena is? The Lex Market site, even with the parking lot to the south included, doesn't seem large enough, though the idea is intriguing and the reasoning re: location sound.

It further raises the question: are there any plausible sites east of MLK and west of the JFX ... i.e., could it be built anywhere downtown except on the current site?
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Old June 11th, 2007, 05:24 PM   #4173
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Don't forget, the market is on both sides of Paca Street. There is an East and a West market building. With the market on the 1st floor of the East side, the arena could take up both blocks. That would be a huge footprint. Admin. offices/retail could be on the 1st floor of the West side. Since the arena will be above street grade, it would span the street. Plenty of room IMHO.
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Old June 11th, 2007, 05:35 PM   #4174
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I find this headline redundant. The name "HarborView" implies an upset Federal Hill neighborhood association.

In all seriousness, I'm not sure who I hope comes out on top with this one. HarborView has played some dirty tricks in the past, and I certainly don't think they should be rewarded for it, but I almost don't blame them given the militant attitude of the Federal Hill nimbys. I just don't think the Federal Hill residents' reasoning is very strong, and I don't think poor logic should some out on top simply because it has a large and dedicated following.
nope, their reasoning isn't strong at all. it's no different from someone buying a condo in the CBD with a view of the harbor only to have it snatched away from them because another developer comes along and builds a tower right in front of the condo which then blocks that harbor view they cherish so much. that kind of thing happens when you live down the harbor or in the CBD. that's a chance you take.

Last edited by MasonsInquiries; June 11th, 2007 at 06:45 PM.
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Old June 11th, 2007, 05:38 PM   #4175
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Plenty of room IMHO.
It's a cool idea ... am still interested in the tale of the (measuring) tape w/r/t to the footprint, though. Last summer, was on a committee to build athletic fields in town. We walked and eyeballed a site we thought could easily hold a couple baseball fields and a couple soccer fields, and then some. When we got the engineer's report back, we were stunned: one baseball field, one soccer. Period.

Perhaps we could resurrect the old Festival Hall to hold Lex Mkt tenants during construction. Or did that place go into the recycling bin?
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Old June 11th, 2007, 05:39 PM   #4176
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Don't forget, the market is on both sides of Paca Street. There is an East and a West market building. With the market on the 1st floor of the East side, the arena could take up both blocks. That would be a huge footprint. Admin. offices/retail could be on the 1st floor of the West side. Since the arena will be above street grade, it would span the street. Plenty of room IMHO.
interesting. i never considered lexington market. hmmmm, it just might work.....
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Old June 11th, 2007, 05:58 PM   #4177
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Great article about the arena. I also wonder if it was written by somebody who has read these very message boards.
ditto to that...it almost reads like one of my posts!!
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Old June 11th, 2007, 06:06 PM   #4178
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Seriously, does anyone know what the minimum footprint for a 19K-20K seat arena is? The Lex Market site, even with the parking lot to the south included, doesn't seem large enough, though the idea is intriguing and the reasoning re: location sound.
I did some research on current NBA and NHL arenas. Maybe this will help:

* The Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena has a footprint of 130,000 square feet and has a maximum seating capacity of 16,200.

* The Pyramid Arena in Memphis, Tennessee has a footprint of 360,000 square feet and has a maximum seating capacity of 21,000.

I guess it may all depend on how many seats we end up with.
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Old June 11th, 2007, 06:28 PM   #4179
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Don't forget, the market is on both sides of Paca Street. There is an East and a West market building. With the market on the 1st floor of the East side, the arena could take up both blocks. That would be a huge footprint. Admin. offices/retail could be on the 1st floor of the West side. Since the arena will be above street grade, it would span the street. Plenty of room IMHO.
Putting the arena above Lexington Market is an intersting idea and a good academic discussion, but it ain't going to happen (Wada Guy please don't take offense). There is a site that I haven't heard mentioned recently. That is the area between the two stadiums, which I believe was the location under serious consideration several years ago. There is plenty of space and its a logical fit with sufficient access being in proximity to Light Rail and I95. I think the state ownes the property so their should be any problem acquiring it.

The arena should definiately seat 18k +. I can't believe that the consultants concluded that Baltimore will never get and NBA or NHL team. That is not acceptable. The market can support one or both leagues. Who can say for certain that this is not possible. Didn't we hear that doom and gloom about the prospects of getting an NFL team? Even if there are no current prospects of getting a pro franchise, the facility needs of be of a standard to handle the many other major events that could be available to the city.

Last edited by Gsol; June 11th, 2007 at 06:45 PM.
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Old June 11th, 2007, 06:40 PM   #4180
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Putting the arena above Lexington Market is an intersting idea and a good academic discussion, but it ain't going to happen (Wada Guy please don't take offense).
Why would I be offended? I'd go for the site between the two stadiums. Anyplace downtown is fine with me. I just think that the closer it is to the urban fabric of the city, the more spin off development we will get.

On thing that can't be denied is that the MCI arena did wonders for the part of Washington it is in. It spured development because it wasn't surrounded by acres of parking and was integrated into the street grid.

If the city and the state are going to make a big investment, we should all want to get as much return on it as possible.
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