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Old February 21st, 2007, 12:14 AM   #1121
waj0527
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Originally Posted by sdeclue View Post
Apparently the Pratt Street redesign proposals are on the table today. We should hear something about this later tonight online from the local news organizations like The Sun, BBJ, etc.
Im actually heading out from the office to this now. I'll report either tonight or tomorrow.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 12:31 AM   #1122
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Well, you know, I really thought SmithBarney would have been a little more aggressive in building its Baltimore operation after inheriting LM's brokerage division. But it appears that they're taking essentially the same amount of space they previously occupied in Harbor East. I honestly thought they would have leased 50-60k ft, instead of 42k. Oh well. It could be worse. And I predicted it would be within the traditional boundaries of downtown. Wrong again.

So, now we have lots of vacancy opening up in the CBD. Over twenty floors will open up in the 100 Light St. building, to add to the huge chunks of space remaining at 750 E. Pratt and 1 E. Pratt. There's thousands of jobs we could potentially add here -- the question is, will they come from outside the city or from relocations within the city? I say that Downtown Partnership should take a step back from flagrant self-praise in its next report and address the growing problem of our "multiple downtowns" and what work needs to be done to shore up real estate & the progress of investment in the CBD.
Definitely. The article posted earlier today also raised similar concern about the duality of the CBD's in Baltimore. After all, what good is all the new development when preexisting development begins to slide?

As Gillece said, at least today we're finding a lot of the older commercial space being renovated to other uses. But even that raises concern: how many hotels and apartments can the old CBD sustain? Add the B&O into the mix, and in that one stretch of downtown, you have three hotels in a row!

I think Timothy Cahill of CB Richard Ellis said it best: "in Baltimore City, there's just no tenant velocity." We need to get out of the cycle of trading office space, and into net growth.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 01:09 AM   #1123
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Originally Posted by waj0527 View Post
Im actually heading out from the office to this now. I'll report either tonight or tomorrow.
Look forward to your report.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 03:01 AM   #1124
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You know, I was just thinking, what if FTI consulting moved its headquarters to 100 Light Street and took its top MD employees with them? The company decided to establish its headquarters office here two years back -- over New York -- but only has its top executives working out of Pratt St. From an organizational and logistical standpoint, wouldn't bringing in more of the area's operations make sense for the company, as it would strengthen management-employee relationships. The company has several hundred employees overall in Maryland, including lots in Bethesda and Annapolis. Is a move to Baltimore a reasonable prospect? Any business 'gurus' out there can answer.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 03:35 AM   #1125
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^We can drive ourselves nuts speculating at this point.

All we can do is monitor the market and watch othe projects. There's just too many possibilities and variables at this point. Something will happen.

Nate
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Old February 21st, 2007, 04:21 AM   #1126
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pratt

the pratt presentations were very cool. all of the teams had some very radical ideas for the corridor.

many of them were NOT practical at all, but it was interesting. i'll share more when i have some sleep!
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Old February 21st, 2007, 04:24 AM   #1127
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Ok...I just got back from the presentation. If anyone else was there, feel free to fill in any info gaps that I may have left.

Ok...all of the groups understood the importance of unifying the seperate programmatic functions of Pratt Street from east to west i.e. UMB or College Town, Hotel/Convention, Harbor District and Cultural. All four groups also understood the importance of bringing the buildings closer to the street and bringing to life the blank dead spaces all along Pratt. Additionally, each group proposed a re-programmed McKeldin Plaza and what I will refer to as Legg Mason Plaza, the wind-swept plaza at the base of the current Legg Mason tower. Also, everyone agreed that the berms HAVE to go.

Please forgive me if I miss a few details. After awhile the presentations sort of run together. Anyone who happened to be in attendance will probably correct me anyway.

Here's my little synopsis and higlights of each presentation:

EDSA

This group provided wonderful renderings that focused on little programmatic areas along Pratt. For me, the highlight of their presentation was the idea of a glass enclosure surrounding Legg Mason Plaza. IIRC they propsed retail and resturant space there. It looked very nice. They also propsed new programmatic uses for Soundheim Plaza, McKeldin Plaza and the NAIB's greenspace at Pier Three. They proposed a pond which could be used as an ice rink in the winter months at the base of the WTC, an expanded mcKeldin Plaza with benches...very pleasant looking, and a new retail pavilion at the current greenspace in front of the Aquarium. They also suggested a dedicated Bus/Bike lane along Pratt. This group DID NOT propse making Pratt a two-way boulevard.

Hargrave Associates/Design Collective

This group provided a strategy more than actual renderings, but have a very bold and daring concept IMHO. They focused primarily on retrofitting current development to increase/improve retail and civic space. They proposed that the first level of parking garages along Pratt be retrofitted to allow for retail. They also had the idea of adding seperate, free standing translucent modular retail buildings in front of exisitng properties in strategic places along Pratt to enhance the urbanity along that street. They had the idea of addign a LED screen, new benches, new hardscape, etc. to McKeldin Plaza. (I know it may not sound like a lot, but it looked pretty nice.) They proposed creating what they called an 'Arts Grove/Performance Area' at Legg Mason Plaza. This Arts Grove would be one of the larger translucent modules and would introduce local art and artists to visitors and residents. This would also be a place where artists could show off their work. I think a small cafe was also talked about here, but I could be wrong. This group focused heavily of using materials that bring energy/activity to the street even when people arent there. I think because they didnt provide renderings in the traditional sense of the word, some people have have a hard envisioning what they plan. I liked it. I thought it was bold and creative and completely un-Baltimore.

I didnt get the name of the third group, but they did a soild job.

This group proposed that Pratt become a two-way street (HOORAY!!!!). There would be traffic circles at either end. I'm not talking about stupid, suburban Towson Circle. On the western edge thgey propsed MLK Monument Circle whioch looked really handsome. On the eastern edge they propsed "diversity plaza circle" at Pratt and president Streets. They also included a boathouse like you see in Philly, Boston and I think Ive seen one in chicago near the lake too. They proposed getting rid of the Pratt and Light Street pavilions because they block the view of the water along pratt. They proposed a wonderful greenspace that was bookended by smaller buildings on either side of Constellation Plaza (at Pratt and Light Streets and in front of the WTC). They also suggested building "Bay Center @ Constellation Plaza" just east of the Constellation. where the old info center used to be.

Ayers St. Grove/Olin Partnership

These guys did a great job and if I had a vote (with a few changes) I'd pick this group's proposal. Pratt would become two-way with a median that would house trees and flowers and flags. They suggested that the facades of exisiting structures be wrapped in glass (I think they referenced glass structures) which would allow for new ground level retail opportunites. Their suggestion for the eastern gateway (MLK and Pratt) was interesting....though I liked the 3rd groupd circles better. They suggested a traditional T intersection, but trees and flowers and fountains would surround this intersection in an oval shape. They mentioned that horrible blank wall along the convention center and suggested that a glass facade and walkway connect the old and new parts of the convention center. They proposed a resturant pavilion made of glass at Legg Mason Plaza. Then it got fun. McKeldin would be completely transformed. They walkway connecting the Inner Harbor to the Convention Center would stay (all other skywalks would go). Stay with me b/c this can be a bit hard to imagine...partially b/c Im tired and not explaining things very well. A serpintine shaped LED video wall would be the highlight of McKeldin Plaza. It would be attached to the skywalk which is above the Under Armour headquarters store. They also mentioned creating a gideau (sp?) or jets of water on either side of the Jones Falls (the actual waterbody , not the interstate).

Thats it for tonite. Hope this helps. Im tired, Im just getting home and Ive been sitting in front of a computer all day. I want to grab a beer and watch me some college basketballball.

Forgive any typos...Im not on my blackberry this time, but I just wanted to get this report to you all since I said I would.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 04:50 AM   #1128
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Thanks Waj. That took a ton of time for you to type out. That all sounds very exciting and I'm glad to hear these groups really looked outside the box to do some very different things. I never thought of a two-way Pratt but the traffic circle thing sounded really awesome.

The video screen also sounds great. I have really wanted a big, times-square like screen for the Harbor. Getting rid of the berms is obviously a must-do, but I think the idea of creating something at the Legg Mason plaza is huge. It's actually one of the things going in that I thought to myself needed to be addressed because there is so much empty space there.

I'd also love to see that pond encorporated because I think an attraction like ice skating needs to come back to the Harbor.

Another pavilion for Harborplace by the acquarium would be cool but I'm not sure where that would possibly fit. The group that talked about traffic circles wants to get rid of Harborplace on Pratt AND Light and so I don't see how that is feasible or would get chosen.

All in all I get the feeling this will be very expensive and that this is going to be quite a long and drawn out process before things are set in motion. Do you feel that maybe the groups went too far in some of their ideas and therefore things won't really end up happening? I just hope the city was ready and prepared for these drastic changes and ideas and realizes that it needs to make one of these proposals happen.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 05:04 AM   #1129
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Why do you want Pratt to be two way?? I think the flow of traffic as it stands is pretty good. I think the only thing that slows it down are the taxi cabs in front of the Gallery and the Bus Stops on the other side. The cabs pulling in and out causes a slow down ripple effect from left to right which is worsened when you have a ripple effect coming from the opposite side where the buses stop. So I dont mind dedicated bus and cab lanes. One other problem is cars turning and getting slowed down by pedestrians. I just dont see how a two way street downtown on a major road with all other streets being one way will be beneficial.

We dont want to turn in to DC that has every imaginable type of street one after another crossing and circling and deadending one after another. You make one wrong turn there and you can't correct yourself for just a few streets if your lucky and if you're like me are likely to end up in VA.

I personally like the one way grid set up with direction alternating each street. Lombard/Pratt.

Another thing I don't really like is the idea of a median with trees. I'm imagining being almost like a Berlin wall of sorts cutting off views from the CBD to the Harbor. My guess is that the purpose of the redesign is to get people to cross pratt street over from the Pavillion Side to the Best Buy Side, but if everything is street level how are they going to be enticed to take a look at all the glass enclosures if a wall of trees is blocking their view.

But yeah, I guess they had more suggestions other than what there is already plenty of.. space for restaurants and cafes.. I was hoping they would have had more entertainment and visual stimulation type things (which is why the LEDs and jet streams and stuch sound good to me) More retail sounds good but hopefully it would be more specialty stores that arent selling business casual clothes, or tshirts and mugs with orioles and crabs on it!!!

Thanks for the report by the way.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 05:24 AM   #1130
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Thanks for the info, waj. I also appreciate it. From the way they sound, it seems like any one of those would be great for Pratt. I like the ideas of the traffic circles, the LED screens and getting rid of the pavillions. I'm curious to see what the modular spaces look like in the Design Collective proposal. Thanks again, Waj.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 05:26 AM   #1131
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[QUOTE=cgunna;11824483]
Quote:
Originally Posted by adammeisterin2007 View Post

Remember it is better for the houses to be empty and owned privately (generating tax rev) instead of just sitting there empty owned by the City.

QUOTE]

I really feel you on your passion and all, but how do you think the City got all thses houses in the first place? They ALL once belonged to owners.

Who rented them out (mostly)
Who kept the properties in piss poor condition. Largely because collecting 475 a month in rent doesn't afford much money for repairs.
So the renters moved out
So the house sat. Empty.
No taxes got paid.
7 years later the City has the house.

I just think we need a better plan as what to do with the properties. A effective longterm solution. We need to actually get the neighborhoods to the point where folks want to live there.

If not, We can just end up with the same situation.

And trust me, the City does not want to own all these houses.

Require owner-occupancy of most of the houses. You have to understand that for 6 years I have run TechBalt.com and I have read emails almost every day form people who want to move in to the City and can not understand why they can not buy a house from the City. I lived in Reservoir Hill since 2003 and I see all the people who want to live here and wonder why they just can't put money down on a SCOPE house. I get emails from investors who will buy anywhere in Baltimore! The demand is there! Every house could be sold. Even near the old Brewery in East Baltimore there is demand!

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Old February 21st, 2007, 05:30 AM   #1132
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All those proposals sound great WAJ. Thanks for taking the time to type it out!
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Old February 21st, 2007, 05:34 AM   #1133
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Sde...most groups offered solutions that could be implemented right away (these were the aesthic changes). The more substantial changes would take some time. Only one group addressed a timetable directly, but I assume phase construction would be used for each proposal. Oh and the lcd atop the under armour store was the coolest thing ever. The rendering blocked the diagonal vista the designers claimed to be trying to preserve, but I hope that element is realized. It was very 'big time'.

House.....two-way traffic along Pratt is essential to it becoming a great boulevard. Name one great street in America or abroad that isn't two-way. The current one way design is way too utilitarian. Pratt needs to be much more than a not-so-quick way to get from 95 to 83. One way traffic is much more dangerous than two way traffic. The status quo allows traffic to speed down Pratt.
Besides, I'm not the only proponent for two-way traffic on Pratt. Several traffic studies have concluded that Pratt needs to be two-way. That includes a study the city commissioned.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 05:52 AM   #1134
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One way traffic is much more dangerous than two way traffic.
Whoa whoa whoa...hold on there. One-way traffic is more dangerous? I think not! The whole reason streets are one way is because two-way traffic is much more dangerous for pedestrians, which is common sense. If traffic studies show that this particular street would make for smoother driving in downtown if it were two-way, then I'm open to the idea. You can slow down traffic on a one-way street using more stoplights; simply making a street two-way won't make it safer, slower, or grander.

Let's see these Pratt Street renderings!
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Old February 21st, 2007, 06:03 AM   #1135
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House.....two-way traffic along Pratt is essential to it becoming a great boulevard. Name one great street in America or abroad that isn't two-way.
My favorite street in the world is one way - 5th Avenue in NYC.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 06:14 AM   #1136
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Yeah, I dont have any studies but as a person who crosses streets, I can only imagine that having to look out for cars from two directions as opposed to one would mean more danger.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 06:21 AM   #1137
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But I gotta admit I laughed a bit when you mentioned we gotta stop lookin at Pratt as a way to get from 95 - 83 cause thats exactly what it is for me when Im coming home from Bethesda, so I am somewhat biased but I still stand by the notion that one-way should be safer than two-way for pedestrians. But Im also willing to sacrifice the ease by which I make it to 83 from 395 if I get some eye candy to look at in the extra time on my ride or if it'll help the region overall.. so I'll just wait till I see some renderings to see what these proposals are all about.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 06:21 AM   #1138
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I told everyone about traffic ideas from these guys that would stir things up!

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I just hope the Pratt St proposals don't come up with traffic proposals that were decided without any mathematical formulations or modeling or transit proposals without respect to the MTA or origin/destination studies. Too many urban planners like to get into transportation, give lip service to it, but don't understand it like an engineer does. It annoys the hell out of me.

Nate
I told you so!

Nate
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Old February 21st, 2007, 06:45 AM   #1139
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Yeah I guess that is a big concern for me since I take it almost everyday. How many lanes do they propose for each direction?? Will there be traffic lights with turn signals?? Yield on green signs?? Will left turns not be allowed on certain streets like how they do in DC?? Im just imagining either traffic being held up for miles because of someone trying to make a left hand turn from east bound Pratt onto Calvert street or Market Pl. or someone trying to make a left turn on to Light Street from westbound Pratt.

Or maybe like in DC someone wishing to make a left turn on to Calvert will have to go up to President, turn on to Lombard, and go all the way back up to Calvert.

Wouldnt Lombard have to become two way as well? Theres no way they can fit four lanes of traffic in to two without traffic being backed up all the way to I195 or do they plan to widen the road.

Man.. too many possibilities
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Old February 21st, 2007, 06:45 AM   #1140
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I wouldn't would to add retail to Pratt when we've got plenty of storefronts there, the Gallery, and the pavilions. I don't want to flood that section of town with retail (where it is less viable) than in the core and westside (much more viable).

That said, adding retail along Pratt and removing the pavilions would be acceptable.

Any traffic changes to Pratt would require a massive, serious study of traffic patterns in all of greater downtown, PERIOD.

I'm not against it, necessarily, but it's illogical to do otherwise.

Almost certainly, traffic would worsen. One-way streets were built to ease traffic congestion.

The Light/Pratt intersection needs more pedestrian friendliness as well as the whole south side of Pratt, whether or not Pratt goes 2 way.

Nate
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