Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Baltimore City Paper from 2003: PAST AND FUTURE COLLIDE IN THE ARTICLE "Will the Station North Arts District Paint a Brighter Future for Midtown?"

In 2003 an article came out in the Baltimore City Paper entitled Will the Station North Arts District Paint a Brighter Future for Midtown? This article describes many things that we might already know (at least as a class) about the District, but I still found reading it pretty fascinating because much of what is described is still relevant to the SNAED of 2010. This is a really great article in my opinion, in part because it expresses the viewpoints of so many different neighborhood players. It also summarizes information well and gives a comprehensive description of the state of the district about seven years ago in it’s earliest and most formative days. The Article explains how Charles North/Greenmount West was chosen to be Baltimore’s Arts and Entertainment District and gives us a few anecdotes about SNAED’s initial conception. The article describes a Station North Arts District that is younger and maybe just as full of reservation (if not more so) about how much can realistically change in the next decade. It might be relevant to recall that this is also a pre-housing crisis and pre-recession SNAED. Brennen Jensen, the author of this article, is able to capture the characteristic sentiment of watchful hesitancy that people in the district have had since the beginning regarding any potential gentrification of Station North. This is a sentiment that asks for (in the words of Dennis Livingston of the Greenmount West Community Development corp) maximum local participation and hands-on grassroots initiatives.
2003 was a pretty crucial year for the Station North Arts District. This article was written the same year that the districts 10 year tax incentives were passed, including the property tax credit for arts-related businesses, the entertainment and amusement tax credit, and the artist-income tax credit. This was also the same year that the PUD (the Planned Unit Development) ordinance was passed. This ordinance was a zoning shift for Greenmount West's industrial buildings, allowing more of them to contain a mixture of commercial and residential tenants. In addition, 2003 was the year that City Council Bill 03-1143 was approved, giving the city authority to ‘use condemnation powers as a means to acquire 24 vacant or underutilized properties in and around the Charles Street corridor.’ At the time that this article was written, the building’s owners had been given 8 months to come up with credible finance plans of their own or else they faced being bought over by the BDC. By no surprise these buildings included sites that we now know to be part of the Charles North Vision plan, including the Chesapeake Restaurant and the Parkway Theater. Oh, and 2003 was also the year that Area 405 opened up.
It’s informative to realize how much is still the same but at the same time important to remember that it’s only been seven years since this article was published. Quite a lot has happened in these few years already. It's hard to measure progress, because with progress there's always the short term and then there's the long term and again, seven years really isn't a very long time. But you should still read the article, even after reading this summary.
Read the article @: http://www.citypaper.com/news/story.asp?id=3328

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