Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Skeptical Plan for Station North
During the presentation on the Station North plan last class, Ben Stone from the Baltimore development corporation mentioned that it was important to develop the Station North district because it is the first part of the city that visitors see when they get off the train. Considering, it seems like developers would want to focus on things that make Baltimore unique. Instead, the plans seemed heavily based on following models in other cities. He specifically referenced the fact that Union Station in D.C. was developed to be like a mall as much as a train station and talked about Chinatown in New York and Philly. In response to those references, there were plans for building a large glass structure on the corner of Charles St. and North Ave., and creating an "Asia Town" market area. Personally, I think these plans would turn Station North into a giant mall just like the Inner Harbor, and serve as an example of the negative side of gentrification. Building big, shiny structures would only serve to make Baltimore look more like a cold, modern city which seems like the wrong direction to go when trying to represent a place known as "Charm City." I think it goes without mentioning that "Asia Town" is very politically incorrect in both name and concept. If the concept for "Asia Town were realized, it would be exploiting the Korean population and nearly denying their presence at the same time.
It's frustrating to me that the Station North plan was presented as a way to show of Baltimore's culture to people from other cities, when it seems to focus mainly on making the quickest, easiest money by appealing to the most mainstream tastes.