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Old July 26th, 2007, 10:31 PM   #5061
30 Floors Up
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As a veteran of many government moves (4 in 5 years), you can rest assured that they will be getting new furniture and redesigned offices along with a new address!

The World Trade Center will now be more than 70% full, so there must be less than 90,000 square feet left to lease.

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Old July 26th, 2007, 11:55 PM   #5062
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Originally Posted by 30 Floors Up View Post
State economic development agency to call World Trade Center home
Baltimore Business Journal - 2:18 PM EDT Thursday, July 26, 2007by Robert J. Terry

Baltimore's World Trade Center, the 30-story waterfront office tower that until recently the state was trying to unload, is getting a new tenant: the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

The agency known as DBED will move its headquarters to the Pratt Street address in October 2008. Officials said the move will cut costs -- about $100,000 over the lease term -- and more closely link Maryland's business development team with the Maryland Port Administration, its maritime agency, with an eye on broadening the state's international business profile.

About 250 of DBED's 322 employees will occupy seven floors in the building.

"For an agency responsible for marketing Maryland to the world, there is no better address to have than that of the World Trade Center Baltimore," said John D. Porcari, secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, which has been seeking to boost the building's tenant base since February, when Gov. Martin O'Malley said he was taking the building off the market.

Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich tried to unload the iconic office building after Hurricane Isabel revealed its vulnerability to weather elements in 2003; flooding in the storm's wake displaced tenants for more than a month. The building, which opened in 1977, is also considered outdated by today's real estate standards, experts say, and is in need of significant upgrades.

The World Trade Center contains nearly 300,000 rentable square feet. With the arrival of DBED, the building will be more than 70 percent occupied, state officials said.

"This move puts DBED where it belongs -- at a visible location in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, a compelling example of Maryland's business development," said Donald C. Fry, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, in a statement. "It strongly supports the administration's decision to retain this flagship building and put it to effective use in promoting and growing our state's economy."
Of course they would be leasing far less space if Montgomery, PG and Frederick County weren't what they are (and they are what they are because of Washington) because these counties are a huge part of the state economically.

I only bring this up to dispel the prevalent opinion that Washington negatively impacts Baltimore. I actually resent it when people say that. I don't intend to sound nasty about it though.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 02:28 AM   #5063
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Biotech park upsets residents
East Baltimore plan brings worry about affordable homes


By Lynn Anderson | Sun reporter
July 26, 2007
A plan to build a sprawling $800 million biotechnology park adjacent to Johns Hopkins Hospital has some East Baltimore residents worried that they will not be able to afford to buy new homes in the area despite the roughly $150,000 they will receive for homes that will be demolished to make way for offices, shops and residences.

East Baltimore Development Inc., a nonprofit organization created by the city to manage the project, has promised to come up with money from an equity fund and specially tailored mortgage loans to help residents buy new houses, which are expected to have a starting price of $250,000.

But some homeowners say the price of the new houses will be so steep that they will not be able to purchase homes in the upscale neighborhood without going into debt.

"We want to make sure that we can get a house for a house," said Donald Gresham, a 20-year homeowner and chairman of the Save Middle East Action Committee. "No one wants to take on any more debt."

The disgruntled property owners are rallying behind a "House for a House" slogan and will meet today at the EBDI offices, 1809 Ashland Ave., to discuss alternate plans with development officials.

Gresham and other residents wrote a memorandum to East Baltimore Development Inc. officials this month in which they clearly stated their opposition to the equity/mortgage plan.

"[This plan] can lead to a plantation where people are not the true masters of their own homes," the July 3 memo said. "And frankly, if asked, our recommendation [to residents and others] would be: 'Look into it. But you will want to be very, very careful about it.' Let the buyer beware."

The equity fund has been "seeded" with $6 million in city and private funds, but it is unclear who would manage it. When residents sell their homes, the fund would receive the value of the original loan plus a percentage of the increase in the property's value. EBDI officials say the fund is a cutting-edge financial tool that could be used to help future families become homeowners in the neighborhood.

They argue that old housing investment models, including publicly subsidized construction and tax incentives to developers to build low-income housing, will not work as effectively.

"This is something that is critically important to ensure that what is delivered here works not just for a few years but for the course of decades as well," said Jack Shannon, president and chief executive officer of EBDI.

"We don't want to undercut a developing real estate market," Shannon said.

EBDI officials say they are responding to residents' concerns. They are talking with developers about building lower-priced homes sooner, as well as building more of them. Shannon said that he and his staff are also looking into ways to renovate existing rowhouses within the revitalization area, which could provide houses in a price range that would be affordable to residents, some of whom make less than $12,000 a year.

Shannon said some of the existing homeowners could move into senior apartments or to houses in other parts of the city. As part of the project, some residents are receiving additional training and education so that they can get jobs at the new biotech park and perhaps increase their household income.

Residents who are leasing houses or apartments also are receiving education on the benefits of homeownership, as well as other financial advice.

"If we are going to deliver this project, we are going to have to take new approaches," Shannon said, referring to the sweeping project, which calls for the creation of thousands of jobs and the transformation of one of the most decayed and crime-ridden areas of the city.

The 88-acre biotech project is about to enter its second phase. In the initial phase, covering 30 acres north of the Johns Hopkins medical campus, 916 properties, 278 of which were occupied, were demolished and 396 families had to be relocated. Shannon said that a senior apartment complex is near completion and that 27 of the 74 units have been leased to East Baltimore residents. Residents, whether homeowners or renters, have dibs on housing in the revitalization area.

Shannon said that about the same number of properties will be demolished or renovated as part of phase two, which covers more than 50 acres. In the end, five life sciences buildings will be constructed, as well as a mix of housing, including "work force" apartment lofts for social workers, teachers and police officers. There will also be housing for biotech professionals that will be priced at market rate, with some units going for $300,000 or more.

"There is a lot of resistance to the equity fund owning a piece of people's houses," said Nathan Sooy, executive director of the Save Middle East Action Committee. "People don't like the idea. There is a visceral resistance to someone else owning part of the house."

Sooy said that many residents own their homes outright because deeds were passed down by parents or other relatives. Such residents are not willing to take on new debt to purchase new houses. Sooy said residents also don't like the mortgage deal proposed by EBDI. Under the plan, mortgage payments would be tied to a homeowner's monthly income and would represent 30 percent of the total sum.

"It seems like a lot of money to people," Sooy said. "And as we were discussing it with residents, we really couldn't find anyone who really wanted to do this."

Sooy and others say that EBDI is quietly trying to move low-income residents out to make way for future employees of Johns Hopkins, which will use about one-third of the office space in the new biotech park.

"Remember, the whole thing here is to serve the business interest of Johns Hopkins University," said Sooy. "And a lot of the vision has to do with having places for people who work in the biotech industry to live."

Shannon denied that plan calls for displacing area residents to make way for workers at the biotech park. A spokesman for the Johns Hopkins University declined to answer questions about the project.

"There is a level of mistrust and in some cases cynicism, in large part because there have been lots of past projects and promises and the results have not mirrored the commitments that were made," said Shannon, who acknowledged that EBDI had been slow in informing residents about more affordable housing options. He promised to be more communicative.

Shannon said residents and development officials had sparred before, but the two sides had struck a more cooperative chord recently. "We are past opposition to the entire plan," said Shannon, "but we are still trying to figure out the best way to move forward and that is not easy."



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Old July 27th, 2007, 02:50 AM   #5064
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Biotech park upsets residents
East Baltimore plan brings worry about affordable homes

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This just blows my mind! How in the world can these people be bitching about this? If they were to sell these houses in the real world, where they are and in whatever condition they may be in, they would be lucky to get 25k. I can't believe they'll get 150k and still bitch! They want one of the 250k houses that are to be built. Okay, say the powers-that-be (ie. schmucks) go for this. These people who make roughly 12k a year will continue to bitch because then they won't be able to afford the house taxes, water and utilities. I guess they'll expect yet another handout.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 04:12 AM   #5065
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This just blows my mind! How in the world can these people be bitching about this? If they were to sell these houses in the real world, where they are and in whatever condition they may be in, they would be lucky to get 25k. I can't believe they'll get 150k and still bitch! They want one of the 250k houses that are to be built. Okay, say the powers-that-be (ie. schmucks) go for this. These people who make roughly 12k a year will continue to bitch because then they won't be able to afford the house taxes, water and utilities. I guess they'll expect yet another handout.

I hear what you're saying but wouldn't you go after everything you could get if your house/neighborhood was seized by the govt?
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Old July 27th, 2007, 04:41 AM   #5066
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I hear what you're saying but wouldn't you go after everything you could get if your house/neighborhood was seized by the govt?

Yes, and I'd be more than happy with 150k for a house worth 25.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 07:57 AM   #5067
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Originally Posted by 30 Floors Up View Post
State economic development agency to call World Trade Center home
Baltimore Business Journal - 2:18 PM EDT Thursday, July 26, 2007by Robert J. Terry

Baltimore's World Trade Center, the 30-story waterfront office tower that until recently the state was trying to unload, is getting a new tenant: the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

The agency known as DBED will move its headquarters to the Pratt Street address in October 2008. Officials said the move will cut costs -- about $100,000 over the lease term -- and more closely link Maryland's business development team with the Maryland Port Administration, its maritime agency, with an eye on broadening the state's international business profile.

About 250 of DBED's 322 employees will occupy seven floors in the building.

"For an agency responsible for marketing Maryland to the world, there is no better address to have than that of the World Trade Center Baltimore," said John D. Porcari, secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, which has been seeking to boost the building's tenant base since February, when Gov. Martin O'Malley said he was taking the building off the market.

Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich tried to unload the iconic office building after Hurricane Isabel revealed its vulnerability to weather elements in 2003; flooding in the storm's wake displaced tenants for more than a month. The building, which opened in 1977, is also considered outdated by today's real estate standards, experts say, and is in need of significant upgrades.

The World Trade Center contains nearly 300,000 rentable square feet. With the arrival of DBED, the building will be more than 70 percent occupied, state officials said.

"This move puts DBED where it belongs -- at a visible location in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, a compelling example of Maryland's business development," said Donald C. Fry, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, in a statement. "It strongly supports the administration's decision to retain this flagship building and put it to effective use in promoting and growing our state's economy."
Why exactly is DBED paying any lease, isin't this one state agency renting from anouther?

This article seems to indicate that the port authority is part of DBED?? Is this just a case of poor writing?
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Old July 27th, 2007, 08:04 AM   #5068
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The uplands rendering you get a brief glimpse at in the video looks like a suburban development. I was hoping for more density there than the former uplands development and certainly more than shown in the rendering.
I disagree. I think less denisty is the way to go in this case. I think the city should tagert a more suburban look to get middle class people to move in with there increased taxes and spending. There are oodles of high density locations throughout the city.

Use the riverview development in Essex as a template. Balt. Co. got rid of an old high densidty apt. complex and replaced it with less denisty single famity homes and it has revived the area.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 04:09 PM   #5069
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Yes, and I'd be more than happy with 150k for a house worth 25.
I see your point, but I have to say I'd be pretty upset if I got booted out of my neighborhood in the name of progress too. I know it's hard for some of us to believe, but there are people who actually liked living in Middle East and invested many years in trying to make it a better place to live. It's not necessarily just about money. If you put your heart and soul into improving a neighborhood (evening meetings, street cleanup, community policing, etc) and then suddenly can't live in that place when it changes dramatically for the better, I can see how you'd be bitter.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 05:04 PM   #5070
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I see your point, but I have to say I'd be pretty upset if I got booted out of my neighborhood in the name of progress too. I know it's hard for some of us to believe, but there are people who actually liked living in Middle East and invested many years in trying to make it a better place to live. It's not necessarily just about money. If you put your heart and soul into improving a neighborhood (evening meetings, street cleanup, community policing, etc) and then suddenly can't live in that place when it changes dramatically for the better, I can see how you'd be bitter.
I completely understand, but I've been to that neighborhood, and you've got to admit, it was totally beyond repair. Really though, its kind of hard to call that a "neighborhood" when 1 or 2 homes are occupied and the other 15-20 are boarded up and in various stages of collapse. Also, like I said before, say they do get to stay in the neighborhood after it is rebuilt, how can a person making 12k a year afford the house taxes and utilities on a 250k home? I think it would be impossible without more monitary assistance, and that just wouldn't be fair to the new homeowners.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 05:43 PM   #5071
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Why exactly is DBED paying any lease, isin't this one state agency renting from anouther?

This article seems to indicate that the port authority is part of DBED?? Is this just a case of poor writing?
All State agencies pay rent to somebody, frequently the Dept of General Services but also many rent privately owned space. DBED's current building is privately owned so that takes money out of the overall State budget. I presume that moving to the WTC will at least keep the money in the family and decrease the pressure to rent space in the WTC. Over the years, some have argued that the State shouldn't be competing in the commercial rental space market anyway.

I noticed the part about DBED and the port authority. That is poor writing or confusion. DBED is a cabinet agency, the port authority is part of MDOT.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 06:30 PM   #5072
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Of course they would be leasing far less space if Montgomery, PG and Frederick County weren't what they are (and they are what they are because of Washington) because these counties are a huge part of the state economically.

I only bring this up to dispel the prevalent opinion that Washington negatively impacts Baltimore. I actually resent it when people say that. I don't intend to sound nasty about it though.
I somewhat disagree, not to discredit Washington but I think it's a two way street, afterall Washington wouldn't exist without prexisting Montgomery and Prince George's Counties who gave the land in the first place; to name just one good reason.

Montgomery, Prince George's and Frederick Counties are more independent of Washington and entrepreneurial with a diverse economy of Media/Communications, Finance, Biotech, Hospitality etc then say Northern Va that 90% of the economy is run on Defense Contracting.

We've done well even though we gotten shafted.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 06:41 PM   #5073
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Senior center plan gains
Panel backs proposal for developer to erect building in land swap


By Jill Rosen | Sun reporter
July 27, 2007
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An unconventional land swap in which a developer would build Baltimore a senior center in exchange for a piece of Mount Vernon property scored a key endorsement yesterday from the city's economic development board.

Despite concerns that building a 600-unit apartment complex geared toward young people might disturb older folks at what would be the new Waxter Center next door, the Baltimore Development Corp. board approved the $100 million deal yesterday, calling it a risk-free way for the city to get a state-of-the-art hub for the elderly and more people living near the heart of the city.

"The goal is to get a new Waxter Center built, and if there can be another development where it's the developer's risk, not the city's risk, that's appealing," said BDC President M.J. "Jay" Brodie.

Developer Howard Chambers has proposed constructing an apartment/condominium building on the site of the Waxter Center, a 34-year-old complex in need of millions of dollars' worth of repairs and renovations. If he gets the property, valued at slightly more than $3 million, Chambers promises to build a senior center worth $8 million on what is now the Waxter parking lot.

Officials with Baltimore's Commission on Aging and Retirement Education, who have been raising money for years to renovate the outdated Waxter, are thrilled at the idea of a new center yet worried that their elderly clients might not peacefully coexist with the twentysomething homebuyers Chambers is seeking.

Chambers wants to build small, European-style apartments aimed at young people, particularly those who populate the Mount Vernon area's schools -- Maryland Institute College of Art, Peabody Conservatory and the University of Baltimore. He thinks people just starting out will want his 375-square-foot studios, half of which he would rent for about $800 a month and the rest he would sell for $140,000 to $150,000.

The Commission on Aging initially wanted a percentage of the units reserved for seniors -- something Chambers said was impossible. Now the commission is hoping the developer will be willing to reduce the density of the project or at least make the units bigger to appeal to a more mature buyer.

"You've been in a dorm," said John P. Stewart, the commission's executive director. "It's not something I think many older adults will be looking at. It may just be intimidating for seniors to be right in the very middle of that type of development."

Chambers, who is eager to get started on the project, said seniors would be welcome in the building.

"The whole target market we're going for is grad students and young professionals, but that doesn't mean others won't be buying into the project," he said. "In a city environment, you're going to have a mixture of old and young and in-betweeners. That's the city. ... I don't see it as a great concern."

The plan that Chambers and his two European partners have in mind for 1000 Cathedral St. includes retail space on the ground floor of the apartment building and a garage for about 350 cars. The building would be about 14 stories and designed to accommodate Mount Vernon's new height rules.

The Commission on Aging had been trying to raise money for about five years when Chambers floated his proposal. The developer wants the commission to give him the approximately $2 million it has raised for Waxter renovations to contribute to his construction costs.

Stewart said if the donors don't object, the commission has no problem giving Chambers the money. But it doesn't want to give up the cash -- or the deed to its property -- until the new building is in move-in condition.

"We don't want to turn anything over until we get the keys to an up-and-running and operating building," he said. "And I don't know how doable that is from a business perspective. Chambers may want some or all of that money upfront."

Chambers said that to get financing he would need the city to agree to certain terms upfront. And the city would need to work that out. "We all need to have comfort to move forward," he said. The deal eventually would need the blessing of the City Council and the city Board of Estimates.

Despite his concerns, Stewart and the commission "strongly support" the deal -- without it, the cash-strapped city would be limited to renovations on the Waxter Center, nothing as exciting as a new building. The director also thinks the proximity to young people, if managed right, could be an asset.

"That environment may give us an opportunity to build intergenerational programs," he said. "I plan to use this new center as a model to roll out some new innovative programs that will really put us in a position to serve both existing older adults and the baby boomer generation who consider the Waxter Center a dinosaur."

Chambers promises that unlike the old building, the new one will have an open and airy center with gardens, running paths on the roof, a full gym and a cafe where seniors would be able to choose from a menu of healthy options.

"This is about changing the whole dynamic about aging services in the city," he said. "After all of our issues are resolved, I think this is a great opportunity. We will not have an opportunity like this in the next 10 years."
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Old July 27th, 2007, 06:51 PM   #5074
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This sounds like a cool project and just the type we need more of in the city to bring about a more vibrant community.

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Originally Posted by 30 Floors Up View Post
Chambers wants to build small, European-style apartments aimed at young people, particularly those who populate the Mount Vernon area's schools -- Maryland Institute College of Art, Peabody Conservatory and the University of Baltimore. He thinks people just starting out will want his 375-square-foot studios, half of which he would rent for about $800 a month and the rest he would sell for $140,000 to $150,000.
This is exactly the type of apartment I'd be looking for. In Miami, I'm forced to spend $1200 a month on an over-sized apartment in which I barely use half the space simply because there isn't anything smaller available.

I don't know if I'd put down $150,000 for a 375 sq.ft. condo, but I'd deinitely shell out $800 a month to rent it for a while.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 07:30 PM   #5075
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This just blows my mind! How in the world can these people be bitching about this? If they were to sell these houses in the real world, where they are and in whatever condition they may be in, they would be lucky to get 25k. I can't believe they'll get 150k and still bitch! They want one of the 250k houses that are to be built. Okay, say the powers-that-be (ie. schmucks) go for this. These people who make roughly 12k a year will continue to bitch because then they won't be able to afford the house taxes, water and utilities. I guess they'll expect yet another handout.
What really irks me about this mentality is that the very same people that are now whining because their neighbourhood is being "taken from them", are the very same people who are responsible for it's deterioriation. The same people who have children that run wild, don't do anything to improve their houses and have nothing better to do than sit back and expect entitlements that they really don't deserve are also holding up development for people that want to work to better themselves so that they can afford the more expensive housing and improve their neigbourhood through their hard work! Oh, I could go on but I know that I am not PC so I'll stop here.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 09:14 PM   #5076
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Uh... yeah, and you know for a fact that the people who are complaining about being forced to move are the same ones you mentioned? Seems to me that "sense of entitlement" would spur those folks to embrace their newfound windfall of cash rather than refuse 5 times the total value of their house, would it not?

Man, talk about painting the public with broad strokes...
Bad idea, bad logic, bad form.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 09:45 PM   #5077
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BDC seeks to turn around 'disinvestment' in Charles Village area

Baltimore's economic development arm is seeking consultants to help the city stimulate development north of the Charles Village area, a part of town officials say has not seen any new construction for nearly three decades.

The Baltimore Development Corp., which is overseeing the process, said Friday the consultants will help the city put together a plan to stimulate economic revitalization and business development opportunities, identify public open space projects, promote arts and entertainment, and encourage the redevelopment of a dozen specific properties in the area.


Penn Station, the Schuler School of Arts, the University of Baltimore and the Maryland Institute College of Art are all located in the area to be studied.

The area would also take on increased visibility if the Charles Street Development Corp. is successful in its efforts to create a trolley service which would travel along Charles Street through the neighborhood.

The Charles Village development corporation launched a study of the project in late June to determine if the trolley service will work financially and logistically. That study is expected to take two years.

The BDC said many of the buildings in the Charles/North Urban Renewal Area have "suffered disinvestment for over three decades." While some buildings have been renovated, the BDC said there has been no new construction in the area since a shopping center and a high-rise building for the elderly were built there the 1980s.

The BDC has given consultants until August 20 to submit qualification letters. Following a screening process, including a round of interviews, the city is scheduled to select a consulting firm on Sept. 4.

Detailed information about the project, including a list of the proposed redevelopment sites, can be found by selecting the Charles North Physical Development Plan RFQ link at www.baltimoredevelopment.com/rfp.asp.

Paul J. Dombrowski, director of planning and design for the BDC who is overseeing the project, could not be reached for comment.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 10:06 PM   #5078
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Hmm. They are WRONG AGAIN. North of Charles Village are the Guilford and Okenshaw neighborhoods. These are areas that are hardly suffering from "disinvestment".

Are they talking about the Station Arts Request for Qualifications posting that the BDC put on their web site this week? If so, that is south of Charles Village and is the area around North and Charles. See my posting a few pages ago titled "Hot off the press - sort of!".

BTW, Charles Village ends at 25th Street. The neighborhood north of North Avenue and south of 25th they are now calling "Charles North" according to the city's web site. I guess the Station/Arts area is south of North Ave and north of I-83.

I swear to god, some of these publications need E D I T O R S who actually know Baltimore and what is going on in the city. The above article is from the Baltimore Business Journal. They are major offenders!

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Old July 27th, 2007, 10:15 PM   #5079
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B-More busting thru the seams

By Michael Dresser | Sun Reporter
July 27, 2007
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E-mail Print Single page view Reprints Reader feedback text size: To the northeast of Baltimore, where Interstate 95 meets the Beltway amid a forest of construction cranes, something truly mind-boggling is taking shape.

Here, the Maryland Transportation Authority is building a highway interchange to replace the 1960s-vintage connection between the two busy highways, where congestion has turned peak travel times into a commuter's nightmare.

This is no ordinary interchange. Designed to accommodate new express toll lanes in both directions on I-95, the junction will be an intricate "spaghetti bowl" of lanes, ramps and soaring flyovers.



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I-95 interchange rendering Photo
Improvements coming Graphic
Major construction project Photo
Construction work Photo
Motorists can expect delays during construction, but when the interchange opens - in late 2011 if the project stays on schedule - it will be the largest structure of its kind in Maryland and perhaps the state's most significant highway engineering feat since the opening of the Fort McHenry Tunnel in 1985.

The interchange, with an estimated cost of $450 million to $500 million, will include 16 ramps carrying high volumes of high-speed travel on four levels to connect I-95's separate express toll and general-purpose lanes with the Baltimore Beltway.

Project manager Dave Greenwood said that in effect, the authority is building two new interchanges atop an existing one, while keeping the current lanes open to traffic.

Tom Warne, a former president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, said after viewing a rendering of the project that it rivals the complexity of some of the large interchanges in Southern California, including one in Orange County known as "Orange Crush."

"This is going to put [Maryland] way at the top of complicated interchanges," said Warne, a former Utah transportation chief who runs a consulting firm.

Travelers in the I-95 corridor can see the project beginning to take shape in the form of tall T-shaped piers of steel-reinforced concrete rising to the sky. The piers, which will support 11 flyover ramps, soar as high as 80 feet and catch the eye of rubbernecking motorists.

"Certainly, the construction is impacting the driving habits," Greenwood said. "You can't help but watch what's going on."

But nothing drivers are seeing now can convey a sense of what is to come nearly as well as the renderings being displayed by transportation authority officials at public meetings and a recent media briefing. The drawings show a tangle of loops and whorls connecting the two highways, both of which are to be widened to relieve the corridor's persistent congestion.

Not everyone is thrilled by this marvel of design and engineering.

Joppa resident Carolyn Hicks viewed the renderings at a public meeting recently and called the design the work of "ivory-towered idiots."

"It looks like something out of a cartoon series, like George Jetson maybe," she said. "I'm not impressed. If anything, I'm distressed."

Hicks, who opposes the concept of what she calls "Lexus lanes," doesn't like the eight soaring "sky ramps" that are part of the interchange's design. She pictures a tractor-trailer falling off the side of a high ramp and landing on cars below.

"I just think traffic is safer if it's lower," she said.

Warne said the interchange should be "perfectly safe" because it will be designed to rigorous engineering standards adopted by the highway and transportation officials association, an organization that literally writes the book on highway design in the United States.

Warne, a supporter of toll lanes, said the complexity of the interchange is "the price of doing something really good." He said the long, sweeping, elevated lanes are necessary to keep traffic moving at speeds close to that on the mainline of the highways.

Teri A. Moss, a transportation authority spokeswoman, the new interchange will be "logical and simple to use" because all of its exits will connect one highway to the other using exits on the right.

The current interchange involves several left exits and entrances, which are considered undesirable by highway engineers because they confound drivers' expectations.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 10:40 PM   #5080
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Is it me, or does the Portland skyline resemble Baltimore's if you take a quick glance?
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