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Old July 9th, 2007, 10:40 PM   #4761
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Project Overview:
Historic renovation of a 1929 Classical Revival-style government building
51 loft apartments in a prime, mid-town location will have 18-foot-high ceilings and large operational windows
Project will include retail space facing the neighboring train station


Project Details:
Construction cost: $7 million
Number of units: 51
Square footage: 78,000
Developer: Railway Express, LLC
Cool. Thanks for posting this. I hope the outside of this building is restored perfectly and the details highlighted with a lighting scheme similar to what Penn Station has.

Any idea what came of Amtrak's hotel venture?
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Old July 9th, 2007, 10:48 PM   #4762
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Bump.

just buggs me to see the D.C. thread above ours....

Harborplace numbers take sharp drop
Baltimore Business Journal - July 6, 2007by Julekha DashStaff


Nicholas Griner | Staff
Arundel Mills pulled in the most tourists last year in Greater Baltimore.

Baltimore City's top tourist attraction drew 1 million fewer visitors in 2006 as the Inner Harbor saw less foot traffic during the peak summer months.

Harborplace and the Gallery drew 12 million visitors in 2006 while its suburban competitor Arundel Mills, located 12 miles away, retained the top spot on the Baltimore Business Journal's List of top tourist attractions by drawing 13.5 million people.

Oh an we're loosing the clipper city ship.....bummer
It is no wonder. Harborplace has gone to hell in a hand basket. The original design, which was open and invited people to circulate and explore, has been compromised. There are no longer view corridors inside to draw you in and make you want to walk around and spend money.

At one time there was a large main hall in the Pratt Street pavilion. A few years ago they cut that up. Then there was the addition of Urban Outfitters which made both the inside and outside of the Pratt Street building non-functional. It created inside hallways that are uninviting and dead end into blank walls. On the outside, people can no longer use half the stairways to get to the upper level of both buildings. And if you do manage to get up there, several of the entrances and exits are no longer functional.

Harborplace can't make up its mind. Is it a food court or a shopping mall? As is usually the case when space and use are not properly planned, it does neither very well. It was much better when most of the food was in the Pratt Street building and most of the shops were over in the Light Street building. Hopefully, the fools that own it now (General Growth Properties) will sell it.
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Old July 9th, 2007, 11:50 PM   #4763
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Hopefully, the fools that own it now (General Growth Properties) will sell it.
Yeah. Problem is that, like Rouse, they'll sell it at a premium which the new owners will have to recoup. They'll do so by continuing to carve out ever-larger footprints for retail and restaurant operations and charging them more per square foot. This'll drive out the smaller businesses that gave the place the vitality that attracted visitors.

Now, if those businesses were relocating nearby in downtown, that wouldn't be a bad thing.
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Old July 10th, 2007, 02:36 AM   #4764
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Harbor PlaceI mean how many sports themed shops can there possibly be in one location to become saturated. How can they possibly think that people are still going to want to buy that crap?
yeah, i agree. a VARIETY is what the people want. in due time, the owners will realize this and HP will recover.
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Old July 10th, 2007, 03:44 AM   #4765
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Interesting Article from The POst

Research Links Lead Exposure, Criminal Activity
Data May Undermine Giuliani's Claims

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 8, 2007; A02

Rudy Giuliani never misses an opportunity to remind people about his track record in fighting crime as mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001.

"I began with the city that was the crime capital of America," Giuliani, now a candidate for president, recently told Fox's Chris Wallace. "When I left, it was the safest large city in America. I reduced homicides by 67 percent. I reduced overall crime by 57 percent."

Although crime did fall dramatically in New York during Giuliani's tenure, a broad range of scientific research has emerged in recent years to show that the mayor deserves only a fraction of the credit that he claims. The most compelling information has come from an economist in Fairfax who has argued in a series of little-noticed papers that the "New York miracle" was caused by local and federal efforts decades earlier to reduce lead poisoning.

The theory offered by the economist, Rick Nevin, is that lead poisoning accounts for much of the variation in violent crime in the United States. It offers a unifying new neurochemical theory for fluctuations in the crime rate, and it is based on studies linking children's exposure to lead with violent behavior later in their lives.

What makes Nevin's work persuasive is that he has shown an identical, decades-long association between lead poisoning and crime rates in nine countries.

"It is stunning how strong the association is," Nevin said in an interview. "Sixty-five to ninety percent or more of the substantial variation in violent crime in all these countries was explained by lead."

Through much of the 20th century, lead in U.S. paint and gasoline fumes poisoned toddlers as they put contaminated hands in their mouths. The consequences on crime, Nevin found, occurred when poisoning victims became adolescents. Nevin does not say that lead is the only factor behind crime, but he says it is the biggest factor.

Giuliani's presidential campaign declined to address Nevin's contention that the mayor merely was at the right place at the right time. But William Bratton, who served as Giuliani's police commissioner and who initiated many of the policing techniques credited with reducing the crime rate, dismissed Nevin's theory as absurd. Bratton and Giuliani instituted harsh measures against quality-of-life offenses, based on the "broken windows" theory of addressing minor offenses to head off more serious crimes.

Many other theories have emerged to try to explain the crime decline. In the 2005 book "Freakonomics," Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner said the legalization of abortion in 1973 had eliminated "unwanted babies" who would have become violent criminals. Other experts credited lengthy prison terms for violent offenders, or demographic changes, socioeconomic factors, and the fall of drug epidemics. New theories have emerged as crime rates have inched up in recent years.

Most of the theories have been long on intuition and short on evidence. Nevin says his data not only explain the decline in crime in the 1990s, but the rise in crime in the 1980s and other fluctuations going back a century. His data from multiple countries, which have different abortion rates, police strategies, demographics and economic conditions, indicate that lead is the only explanation that can account for international trends.

Because the countries phased out lead at different points, they provide a rigorous test: In each instance, the violent crime rate tracks lead poisoning levels two decades earlier.

"It is startling how much mileage has been given to the theory that abortion in the early 1970s was responsible for the decline in crime" in the 1990s, Nevin said. "But they legalized abortion in Britain, and the violent crime in Britain soared in the 1990s. The difference is our gasoline lead levels peaked in the early '70s and started falling in the late '70s, and fell very sharply through the early 1980s and was virtually eliminated by 1986 or '87.

"In Britain and most of Europe, they did not have meaningful constraints [on leaded gasoline] until the mid-1980s and even early 1990s," he said. "This is the reason you are seeing the crime rate soar in Mexico and Latin America, but [it] has fallen in the United States."

Lead levels plummeted in New York in the early 1970s, driven by federal policies to eliminate lead from gasoline and local policies to reduce lead emissions from municipal incinerators. Between 1970 and 1974, the number of New York children heavily poisoned by lead fell by more than 80 percent, according to data from the New York City Department of Health.

Lead levels in New York have continued to fall. One analysis in the late 1990s found that children in New York had lower lead exposure than children in many other big U.S. cities, possibly because of a 1960 policy to replace old windows. That policy, meant to reduce deaths from falls, had an unforeseen benefit -- old windows are a source of lead poisoning, said Dave Jacobs of the National Center for Healthy Housing, an advocacy group that is publicizing Nevin's work. Nevin's research was not funded by the group.

The later drop in violent crime was dramatic. In 1990, 31 New Yorkers out of every 100,000 were murdered. In 2004, the rate was 7 per 100,000 -- lower than in most big cities. The lead theory also may explain why crime fell broadly across the United States in the 1990s, not just in New York.

The centerpiece of Nevin's research is an analysis of crime rates and lead poisoning levels across a century. The United States has had two spikes of lead poisoning: one at the turn of the 20th century, linked to lead in household paint, and one after World War II, when the use of leaded gasoline increased sharply. Both times, the violent crime rate went up and down in concert, with the violent crime peaks coming two decades after the lead poisoning peaks.

Other evidence has accumulated in recent years that lead is a neurotoxin that causes impulsivity and aggression, but these studies have also drawn little attention. In 2001, sociologist Paul B. Stretesky and criminologist Michael Lynch showed that U.S. counties with high lead levels had four times the murder rate of counties with low lead levels, after controlling for multiple environmental and socioeconomic factors.

In 2002, Herbert Needleman, a psychiatrist at the University of Pittsburgh, compared lead levels of 194 adolescents arrested in Pittsburgh with lead levels of 146 high school adolescents: The arrested youths had lead levels that were four times higher.

"Impulsivity means you ignore the consequences of what you do," said Needleman, one of the country's foremost experts on lead poisoning, explaining why Nevin's theory is plausible. Lead decreases the ability to tell yourself, "If I do this, I will go to jail."

Nevin's work has been published mainly in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research. Within the field of neurotoxicology, Nevin's findings are unsurprising, said Ellen Silbergeld, professor of environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins University and the editor of Environmental Research.

"There is a strong literature on lead and sociopathic behavior among adolescents and young adults with a previous history of lead exposure," she said.

Two new studies by criminologists Richard Rosenfeld and Steven F. Messner have looked at Giuliani's policing policies. They found that the mayor's zero-tolerance approach to crime was responsible for 10 percent, maybe 20 percent, at most, of the decline in violent crime in New York City.

Nevin acknowledges that crime rates are rising in some parts of the United States after years of decline, but he points out that crime is falling in other places and is still low overall by historical measures. Also, the biggest reductions in lead poisoning took place by the mid-1980s, which may explain why reductions in crime might have tapered off by 2005. Lastly, he argues that older, recidivist offenders -- who were exposed to lead as toddlers three or four decades ago -- are increasingly accounting for much of the violent crime.

Nevin's finding may even account for phenomena he did not set out to address. His theory addresses why rates of violent crime among black adolescents from inner-city neighborhoods have declined faster than the overall crime rate -- lead amelioration programs had the biggest impact on the urban poor. Children in inner-city neighborhoods were the ones most likely to be poisoned by lead, because they were more likely to live in substandard housing that had lead paint and because public housing projects were often situated near highways.

Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes, for example, were built over the Dan Ryan Expressway, with 150,000 cars going by each day. Eighteen years after the project opened in 1962, one study found that its residents were 22 times more likely to be murderers than people living elsewhere in Chicago.

Nevin's finding implies a double tragedy for America's inner cities: Thousands of children in these neighborhoods were poisoned by lead in the first three quarters of the last century. Large numbers of them then became the targets, in the last quarter, of Giuliani-style law enforcement policies.
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Old July 10th, 2007, 05:21 AM   #4766
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We should see some Mechanic Theater plans within a month. Sharks are circling the Scottish Rite Temple waiting to bite.

City takes proactive approach to its past
Board considers 5 more properties for preservation

By Jill Rosen, Sun reporter, Originally published July 9, 2007

After a year that dealt Baltimore's preservationists some painful hits, the city is stepping up its effort to protect historic properties - and sites that include a noted African-American church, a South Baltimore park and an old brewery are poised to become "city landmarks."
Morris A. Mechanic Theatre

• Riverside Park:

• Bolton Square:

• Union Baptist Church:

• American Brewery
Can somebody explain this to me? On the one hand, a city that is like a Venice of Victorian architecture has only 5 buildings worth preserving and on the other hand, they are these? What? How does this make sense?

I would be sad to see the Mason's temple on Charles St go, but what other use would it have? It has been used for things like senior proms, so I guess it could have some use as an event venue but what a place to maintain...not much parking on site. Seems like a white elephant without the Boumis.
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Old July 10th, 2007, 05:32 AM   #4767
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Harbor Place

I think the days of the festive marketplace are numbered. Althought when it was first built, Harbor Place was a destination in itself, it has long since been surplanted by other areas like Harbor East with its residential and trendy shopping vibe which is geared more for the locals than the out of town tourist. The last couple of times that I ventured into those pavillions, I was appaled by the tacky nature of most of the shops and the goods that they are flogging. I mean how many sports themed shops can there possibly be in one location to become saturated. How can they possibly think that people are still going to want to buy that crap?
When HP was built, it was the only game in town. Most retail downtown had departed and there was no Best Buy, Filene, BN, Harbor East, etc. It also had Rouse's august and understated sense of decor. Things have changed though, and mostly for the better in the area, but that isn't much help for the pavilions. I lunch there a couple times a week and have watched the process and it appears to move without much of a big plan.

Now, by comparison, there is so much in the area that it appears that HP is trying to mainly catch the lunch trade for the Convention Center, Aquarium and Science Center. Business is highly cyclic depending on school trips and vacationers. That seems to mean cheap stuff that people buy on impulse, like mugs, sunglasses, etc. On the other hand, the food court rehab brought in higher priced lunches and fewer choices, an apparent contradiction. My least favorite is the kiddie rides that block the view. Rouse is turning over in his grave over that one. I don't think that General really knows what to do since they are not the only game downtown. I don't think Harborplace will go away any time soon, but it will continue to search for a role in that evolving retail market.
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Old July 10th, 2007, 06:15 AM   #4768
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I would be sad to see the Mason's temple on Charles St go, but what other use would it have? It has been used for things like senior proms, so I guess it could have some use as an event venue but what a place to maintain...not much parking on site. Seems like a white elephant without the Boumis.
I can't remember if this was just an idea thrown out by one of the forumers or if it was an actual proposed idea, but I think I remember hearing that the BMA was interested in the Scottish Rite Temple. I think it would be a travesty if that building was demolished. I've never been inside, but I would be surprised if if there was no interest in a building of such beauty. Even if there is no immediate interest, this seems like one of those things that's predictable with fair certainty that we would regret twenty years down the line. Besides, what else is going to go at the address? It's not like we're talking about the Mechanic Theatre location.
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Old July 10th, 2007, 06:54 AM   #4769
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I can't remember if this was just an idea thrown out by one of the forumers or if it was an actual proposed idea, but I think I remember hearing that the BMA was interested in the Scottish Rite Temple. I think it would be a travesty if that building was demolished. I've never been inside, but I would be surprised if if there was no interest in a building of such beauty. Even if there is no immediate interest, this seems like one of those things that's predictable with fair certainty that we would regret twenty years down the line. Besides, what else is going to go at the address? It's not like we're talking about the Mechanic Theatre location.
I would be a great location for a modestly tall condo. Neighbors would object if it were too tall, but a few floors higher than the other Charles St condos, with a great uphill distant downtown view, towering over the Hopkins campus, I can't imagine it NOT being a big success. I love that building though but I can hear the sucking sound of a vacuum. Nothing in the Freemason Temple...great location....all it takes is a little demo and you have prime property. I actually do hope somebody comes up with an idea to save it.
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Old July 10th, 2007, 04:20 PM   #4770
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Check out Buffalo...Congrads
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Old July 10th, 2007, 04:23 PM   #4771
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Can somebody explain this to me? On the one hand, a city that is like a Venice of Victorian architecture has only 5 buildings worth preserving and on the other hand, they are these? What? How does this make sense?

I would be sad to see the Mason's temple on Charles St go, but what other use would it have? It has been used for things like senior proms, so I guess it could have some use as an event venue but what a place to maintain...not much parking on site. Seems like a white elephant without the Boumis.
Perhaps I can help. First, these landmark designations are time consuming, both for the commission (CHAP) and for its staff. They are a volunteer commission and their hearings can be outrageously long already with all of the controversial demo and alteration requests that they get. 5 landmark nominations in a month is probably about all they can handle without having to arrange to meet on multiple days.

As far as landmarking those particular sites is concerned, I think it has to do with process. The commission only hears what's nominated. While they can do the nominating themselves (the Mechanic nomination came from member Mike Murphy), they are also getting nominations from elsewhere in the community now that its become known that they're interested in growing the landmark list. The Scottish Rite building was nominated by Councilwoman Clarke and I suspect the others were all nominated by their owners or local residents. I know of a few nominations that didn't make it on to the agenda this month, so there appears to be a waiting list. As of 2003 the landmark list had 113 sites to go along with the several thousand buildings that are in historic districts, so many of the most iconic places in the city are already under CHAP purview.

Uses for the Scottish Rite building? It seems like Hopkins or Loyola should have a use for it but neither has jumped at the opportunity so far. Hopkins has much of their admin in the old Eastern High School now, and sooner or later they'll outgrow that space too. The support staff that the university/hospital requires is immense.
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Old July 10th, 2007, 05:27 PM   #4772
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Uses for the Scottish Rite building? It seems like Hopkins or Loyola should have a use for it but neither has jumped at the opportunity so far. Hopkins has much of their admin in the old Eastern High School now, and sooner or later they'll outgrow that space too. The support staff that the university/hospital requires is immense.
Thanks for the good information about CHAP. W/R/T the Scottish Rite Temple, wonder if, like the Boston Custom House, a tower can sprout from it.



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Old July 10th, 2007, 05:52 PM   #4773
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That would be absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately, I don't think any Baltimorean developers have that kind of vision.
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Old July 10th, 2007, 06:00 PM   #4774
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I love the Boston Customs House, both phases. It works very well. Not so sure about Breuer's proposal for Grand Central Terminal though:



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Old July 10th, 2007, 06:03 PM   #4775
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Or there's always Norman Foster's new Hearst Tower. Some buildings work better as "pedestals" than others. I don't mind this one a bit:

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Old July 10th, 2007, 06:09 PM   #4776
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Or there's always Norman Foster's new Hearst Tower. Some buildings work better as "pedestals" than others. I don't mind this one a bit:

Emporis Skyscraper of the Year...awesome building.
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Old July 10th, 2007, 06:10 PM   #4777
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Not so sure about Breuer's proposal for Grand Central Terminal though
Yeesh. Talk about dodging a bullet. GCT looks great since its restoration.
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Old July 10th, 2007, 06:39 PM   #4778
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Thanks for the good information about CHAP. W/R/T the Scottish Rite Temple, wonder if, like the Boston Custom House, a tower can sprout from it.
The Boston Customshouse must be the most reused building in America. It's now a HOTEL.

The Scotish site is 4 acres is it not? That is a lot of room.

~~~~~

Relief is on the way for artists' space headaches
Architecture: Edward Gunts, Originally published Jul 9, 2007



Artists seeking studio space in Baltimore will have a new option to consider this fall when the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower opens for its first tenants.

Renovation work is nearing completion on a $1.25 million conversion of the landmark tower at 15 S. Eutaw St. from municipal offices to studios for painters, sculptors, photographers, graphic designers, writers and other artists. The first two floors will have a cafe and gallery space.

Bill Gilmore, director of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts, said he expects construction to be completed by the end of August and that artists should be able to move in by October. "We're looking for artists who are willing to open their doors so we can have the building open one Saturday a month, so people can go in and ride the elevator and ... buy works of art," he said.

The open houses would make Baltimore's 15-story arts tower a vertical version of the Torpedo Factory in Virginia, a munitions factory before it was converted 25 years ago that has become a magnet for artists and arts lovers. "We're going to build it into the lease," Gilmore said.

Modeled after a 13th-century stone watch tower in Florence, Italy, the building was designed by Joseph Evans Sperry and constructed by Capt. Isaac Emerson in 1911 as part of the factory that made Bromo Seltzer, a headache and indigestion remedy. Each floor is 30 feet by 30 feet.

After the Bromo Seltzer business moved out of state in the 1960s, the tower was donated to the city. For more than two decades, it was home to the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Art and Culture.

After that agency merged with the Office of Promotion and moved to Redwood Street, Gilmore and a former MACAC executive director, Jody Albright, pursued a plan to fill the building with artists as an anchor for the revitalization efforts on the west side of downtown. "I consider this the gateway to the west side," Gilmore said.

The tower is now owned by Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower LLC, with arts patrons Sylvia and Eddie Brown as the "investor partners" and the Office of Promotion & the Arts as the managing partner. Schamu Machowski Greco is the architect, and Azola & Associates, the general contractor, began work last summer.

The upper floors will contain two or three studios per floor, depending on their layout, with the average studio measuring about 15 feet by 15 feet and featuring picturesque views of downtown. Alternate floors will have a bathroom and small communal space. Artists can't live in the building but can work there around the clock.

As the renovation work nears completion, the arts office will be working with a leasing agent to sign up tenants. More than 200 artists and others attended an open house in the building last October. The 40 people who expressed interest by filling out information sheets will be contacted first. Gilmore said rents are likely to start at about $400 per month, with upper floors commanding somewhat higher rents. The Browns have made a donation so an "emerging artist" can occupy one studio free of charge.

Azola is a family-run company that specializes in preservation and has been working to retain as much of the building's character as possible. On the first floor, the company is reinstalling original oak doors that were found in the clock tower. It is saving bronze windows, radiators and other items wherever it can, while adding a sprinkler system, central air conditioning, state-of-the-art fire alarm system, backup generator and new bathrooms.

"With the Azolas, you get the whole family," Gilmore said. "They really take it on as a love of preservation." Much of the renovation budget has gone to installing a second stairwell for use in case of fire - a requirement of Baltimore's Fire Department, even though the John F. Steadman fire station is next door. A second phase of construction on the tower calls for cleaning its exterior, when funds become available.

The construction team is determining what to do with a large mural on the tower's east side by Baltimore artist Rod Cook. Sections of stucco have begun to fall off the building and onto the sidewalk below, creating holes in the painting that would be costly to repair.
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Old July 10th, 2007, 06:55 PM   #4779
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Can somone post a photo of the Scottish Rite Temple? I Can't visualize it.
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Old July 10th, 2007, 07:05 PM   #4780
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It seems like Hopkins or Loyola should have a use for it but neither has jumped at the opportunity so far.


I am surprised that Hopkins hasn't jumped at the chance of buying the Scottish Rite temple, especially as they seem to be expanding out into the Charles Village and Wyman Park areas. Not too long ago, the architectural firm that drew up their master plan for the Homewood campus suggested that they really needed a dedicated performance space which they are lacking now. Currently they use Shriver Hall for conserts but it is small and the seats are really too close together. Since the Scottish Rite already has a huge (I think it's 1,500 seat) hall, why not just convert that into their much needed performance space? I saw some photos of it in the Baltimore Messenger and it is truly beautiful. It wouldn't really take a lot to convert to an updated performance space, although parking would be a big issue, especially as Mary Pat Clark (wife of the do nothing developer) lives a stones throw from the site. I doubt whether it would ever be demolished especially since it is built of limestone and it would be very time consuming and expensive to demolish. Again I doubt that people in lower Guildford and Tuscany/Canterbury would relish the idea of huge construction vehicles and construction noise in the neigbourhood for a even a brief amount of time.
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