Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I've been thinking about what people have been writing about in these blogs and I think everyone makes good points about the pros and cons of an arts district. I agree that an artist community or "district" should be created in a more grassroots way and that major development is not always the best thing for a neighborhood. But, I also think that development is inevitable and will happen sooner or later. What's interesting to me about the three plans for Station North is that there's a little bit of everything working together to bring the area back. You have CBP and BDC proposing long term plans for the more commercial side of the project and the Greenmount West organizations working on more of a local level with members of the community focusing on building a stronger neighborhood. And, of course, you have artists contributing their talent and ideas. The question is how long before gentrification kicks in and another generation or two are forced to move from the community that was once meant for them.
This also brings up what concerns me most which is what about the people who have lived in this area their whole lives and witnessed the rise and the fall of the neighborhood. While I appreciate that the city wants to build an arts and entertainment district for me and my fellow artists and give me tax incentives and stuff like that, I can't help but ask why can't they put that kind of money into building up better neighborhoods and schools and businesses for people who have needed it for so long. Not to say that the people living in Greenmount West and Barclay don't need this too because they are struggling too. Again, are they going to be able to afford to live in their neighborhood once these plans kick into gear? The Old Town Mall in East Baltimore was once the heart of Baltimore and a thriving market that served its community. It's also a failed urban renewal project that has been suffering since the late 80s. That place and its residents and business owners have been promised funding and redevelopment for years and are still waiting for something/anything to happen down there. It doesn't get nearly as much attention has Station North. The same thing goes for sections of the west side of downtown. I guess it's pretty complicated and also hard for a broke city like Baltimore to tackle these problems all at once and we should be happy that something positive is happening somewhere and maybe that will be a start to something bigger and better for Baltimore. It will be interesting to see where the city is in 10-15 years down the road.
Just some thoughts......

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