Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good News for the Gateway at Washington Hill


(*courtesy CB Richard Ellis)

There was an article a while back about the Gateway at Washington Hill project, I think it was in the Baltimore Sun, but I can't be for certain. It mentioned that the property was sold and a new developer was looking to revitalize the program, albeit in a modified version. I was curious about the new project so I sent an email over to Kristina Kossolis at CBRE, the owner of the property, to see what the deal was. This is what she said:
"Phase 1 of the project is supposed to break ground fall of 2009 and will take 1.5 years to develop and phase two will break ground as the first phase finishes. It is the hope of the developer to bring great retail amenities along with residential units to the community."
If you are unfamiliar with the project it is bounded by Baltimore, Wolfe, Washington, and Fayette Streets. Phase 2 extends up to the next block up to Orleans St. There will be a mix of apartments and townhouses, but the best part is retail along Fayette and all in the Phase 2 section, and a grocery store anchor. Finally I will be able to grocery shop without having to go to Canton.
I don't know about you, but I am excited about this one. The ground has been bare for a while, and to see something go in there will be great. The retail is key for this area, especially with Hopkins Hospital up the street with its staff, not to mention Nursing, Medicine, and Public Health students. It should also be a good draw for residents! Let's just hope we get some good stores up there. I'm guessing at least one Starbucks.

Hometown Update - Champs at Last!

(*courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer)

The Philadelphia Phillies are the 2008 World Series Champions!
Thanks guys for ending the 28-year drought for the Phillies and the 25-year drought for the city of Brotherly Love. PHINALLY!



Saturday, October 25, 2008

Baltimore Skyline Roadtrip - St. Louis

The joy of travelling to different places, especially those you have never been to, is taking the time to take in the local attractions. So, when I found myself in St. Louis for work, I decided to check out the one thing that comes to mind when someone says St. Louis (no, not Busch Stadium) the Gateway Arch!

Nothing says "Celebration of Western Expansion" like a giant, stainless steel arch. I think it would be more impressive if it spanned the Mississippi, but it is a striking feat of engineering. It was designed by Finnish architectural genius Eero Saarinen in 1947, the same man who brought us the terminal at Dulles Airport and TWA's at JFK. The man really knew how to make steel and concrete curve gracefully. A large inverted catenary curve, it is 630 feet at its keystone piece, and 630 feet across at it's base. Two trams take passengers up either leg to the observation deck at the top. It was completed in 1965 after two years of construction.

The Arch is the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial which opened in 1935. It sits mainly on the old portion of St. Louis, which by the early 1930s was so decrepit (not to mention too close to the flood prone Mississippi) that the buildings were torn down and replaced with a grand park. Nearby is the Old Court House, which saw the beginnings of the Dred Scott case in 1847 and 1850, which eventually led to the famous Supreme Court case in 1857.

Here at Baltimore Skyline, we do enjoy not only the architecture of our city, but those unique things we find all over, so we'll continue to bring you some great stuff from all over.

Hope you're enjoying your wet and windy Saturday night!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

World Series Starts Tonight!

The Fall Classic starts tonight at 8pm on Fox. Philadelphia Phillies vs Tampa Bay Rays. It's Hump Day in Baltimore, so go out and enjoy some happy hour, and then stay out to watch some baseball!

Let's Go Phightin' Phils!


Commuters Looking for New Plans Come January



Unfortunate news coming out of MTA for Maryland Commuters, because of the budget cuts and souring economy, MTA is going to be making some cuts of their own starting in January. The MTA plan to cut 6 Commuter Bus routes and a few trains on the MARC Penn and Brunswick lines are coming at a time where mass transit is seeing one of the largest spikes in its usage. Last January the MTA announced that they would add four later MARC trips, to take advantage of later riders. Now, a year later, two of them, the 447 to DC and the 448 to Baltimore, are planning on being cut.

In August, Gov. O'Malley announced that he wanted to expand the Commuter Bus service to encourage more rides because of high gas prices, now it seems that this will be taking a step back.

The MTA had already planned to initiate weekend service on the MARC Penn Line, but this, too, seems like more of a dream than a reality at this time.

It's really disappointing that service is being cut when gas prices are still high, and all people want to do is get to work or play without having to rely on their cars every day. I would hope that our delegates in Annapolis can work out some way to fix the budget short falls in Maryland, so they won't have to keep cutting services. We need the alternatives!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Photo Essay - Harbor East

Saturday was such a wonderful day, so I decided to walk around Harbor East and shoot some pictures of the construction projects going on down there. Two large towers are rising at the end of President St at Lancaster St, in the last two lots left down there. The redevelopment has been a huge success with the addition of apartments, condos, and some great retail spots. Not to mention the Landmark Theaters, the only movie theater in downtown Baltimore (the bar is a great perk too). Now we have the 24 story Legg Mason Tower, where the new headquarters will move to from downtown, and the 44 story Four Seasons Hotel and Residences. Without further prose here are the pictures:

Four Seasons Hotel & Residences






Legg Mason Tower

Friday, October 17, 2008

Take that Zipcar

Now since it seems that Zipcar won't expand it's market in Baltimore beyond Johns Hopkins University and Goucher College, Bmore is going to just go around Zipcar and create it's on car sharing organization. Take that! Seeing as Zipcar has been a great success in markets like Washington DC and Philadelphia, why wouldn't they want to start up more pods here? Especially in a city whose public and rapid transit system is far less suited for people looking to get around. Car sharing would be a great option here, and it definitely is a loss for Zipcar.

On the good side of this is that Baltimore gets to create its own non-profit car sharing system on the lines of PhillyCarShare (http://www.phillycarshare.org/). The start up date hasn't been set yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if this was something in the not-to-distant future. We definitely need another option here in Bmore, and this will fill a great void. Baltimore is a city where you need a car to get to practically anything, and a car sharing system will help us do without. For those people who don't want to have the hassle of owning a car, with insurance, payments, and gas on top of it, this will be a great alternative.

Imagine being able to pick up a car for a few hours, go to the supermarket and do some errands, then return the car at a pod. If they are spaced frequently around neighborhoods and downtown the walk would be easy to get one. If they focus some pods around Metro, Light Rail, and Bus transportation centers, then we got something good going on. Plus they want to get a lot of hybrids, so environmentally they will be better, and hopefully get more individual cars off the street.

Let's hope they can get this up and running soon. We all could use a better alternative these days! (Maybe a bike sharing program in the future?)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday Afternoon Profile: Washington Memorial

I know this isn't the best of pictures of the Washington Memorial, but this is apparently the only photo I have taken of it. This is from St. Patrick's Day, I don't recall taking any pictures around Mount Vernon, so guess it was a great St. Patty's Day!

It's hard not to see the Washington Memorial when you are out and about in the city. It sits on the highest point in Baltimore, and is 178 feet tall, so you can't miss it. Interestingly enough, it was conceived and construction began well before it's more famous cousin in Washington DC. Construction started in 1815, but wouldn't be completed for fourteen years.

The memorial is made up of three basic parts: Pedestal, Column, and George. The pedestal recounts the date that Washington took command and when he resigned is commission after the American Revolution, as well as his victories as Commander-in-Chief (all FOUR of them!) The tall marble Doric column stands atop the pedestal and standing on top is the 16-foot tall statue of GW.

The Memorial was, in 1829, the second tallest structure in the city (behind the Shot Tower), and even though that has long been eclipsed it is still a striking fixture on the skyline. It sits literally at the heart of the city in Mount Vernon, surrounded by Lafayette, Taney, and Howard. Although the hustle and bustle of the city goes on below, the good General still watches over from his perch.

One of the most unique Baltimore traditions (and by far my favorite) involves the Memorial, at Christmas time. New York has it's tree in Rockefeller Center and DC has their National Tree, but we do it a little differently here in Bmore: we just light up George. Lights are strung up the column, and in the most secular of ways we celebrate the holidays!

For a $1 you can walk up the monument, so next time you find yourself in Mount Vernon take a walk up (only 228 steps) to the top, but beware the railing is very low, people were shorter in 1829.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Charles Village: A Great Neighborhood

Good news for all of you residents of Charles Village, you live in a great neighborhood! The American Planning Association named the North Baltimore section of the city as one of its 10 Great Neighborhoods for 2008.
Charles Village stretches mostly from North Ave to 33rd Street along the N. Charles Street corridor. It's a great mix of townhouses and small apartment buildings, most with small front yards and tree lined stretch, a far cry from some of the more urban neighborhoods to the South. It is anchored and influenced by Johns Hopkins University to the North and Station North to the South. Students, young professionals, and families alike call it home.

It was laid out mostly at the beginning of the 20th century when Baltimore extended its borders North to its present locations. The neighborhoods of Charles Village, Guilford and Roland Park were all designed and laid out around the same time. The Olmstead brothers laid out the latter two in the early 1920s, and they have a more suburban fell with winding streets and individual hows instead of rows. However, Charles Village has a similar feel. It was one of the first "streetcar" communities. A streetcar line that went up Charles Street connected here with downtown. The line also went North through Guilford and also along University Parkway, allowing residents to live in comfort but easily get downtown to work. Now the streetcars are long gone, but some vestiges still remain. There is even talk of resurrecting the streetcar line, that has been a hot and debated topic. (I for one am in favor of it).

Still, without the streetcars, Charles Village remains one of the most picturesque and quaint neighborhoods of the city. You can check out more on the APA's website: http://www.planning.org/greatplaces/index.htm

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Phelps on Access Hollywood

Too bad the other Maryland Olympians were overshadowed by Phelps. Katie Hoff won 2 Bronze and 1 Silver medal in Beijing, and Jessica Long won 4 Gold, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze swimming in Paralympics aswell. There were a lot of great athletes coming out of Maryland, spread the love a bit.

Monday, October 6, 2008

New Look for Mount Royal Ave?

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/baltimore_city/bal-md.ci.royal06oct06,0,5493860.story

The Baltimore Sun reported today that MICA and UB are looking to revamp the stretch of Mount Royal Avenue between the two campuses. In an area that has thousands of students, not to mention the Myerhoff, Lyric, and Penn Station, the streetscape is not very desirable. The initiative hopes to attract retail and aesthetic improvemets to the area. Repaving Mount Royal, adding trees, reworking sidewalks, and encouraging business. UB will also use this as an opportunity to better tag its campus. In an urban setting it is difficult to tell where a school starts and ends. UB hopes to solve this problem with better signage.

With MICA opening up its new Residence Hall this year and UB planning a new Law School building on a parking lot at Charles and Mount Royal, this could create a great renaissance up there. With the successes of Station North and the ongoing renewal of the Charles Street streetscape between Madison and Mount Royal, this could generate a lot of positives. In such a densely populated area, one would think there would be more, but that isn't the case. A more pedestrian and shopper friendly area will be a key.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Your Baltimore Weekend Update: Phelps Phest


This weekend Baltimore is celebrating its Maryland athletes with two events on Saturday. First up is a parade in Michael Phelps' old stomping grounds of Towson. Most of the Towson streets will be shut down for the procession. The parade steps off at 3pm along York Rd at Burke Ave.

The parade is then to be followed by a Star Spangled Extravaganza at Fort McHenry. There will be a ceremonious reenacting of Phelps receiving his Gold Medals...Hey, like Defenders Day but without the British. I really like this part, reenactment of receiving Gold Medals, seriously? Didn't this just happen back in August. I'm sure it's on YouTube. Anyway, the connection is clear: American wins a Gold Medal, they play the Star Spangled Banner, the Star Spangled Banner was written in Baltimore during the attack on Fort McHenry, Phelps is from Baltimore, therefore have the Phelps celebration at Fort McHenry...brilliant!

The festivities start at 3pm at the Fort with food and entertainment. The main event starts at 7pm with fireworks at 7:50pm. National Park Service Ranger Jim Bailey told Baltimore Skyline that the NPS is expecting 18,000 people on Saturday. They haven't had this many people in one day since the Bicentennial! The parking will be shut down, so I would suggest taking MTA they have a heads up on the website: http://www.mtamaryland.com/

Alright get out there and take on the weekend. Fells Fest starts tomorrow down at the Point at 11am. That means head on over to the Big Beer Garden, get yourself some suds, and enjoy the music and fun!

Take her easy Bmore.