Earlier today, the Maryland Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit brought against the city by super lawyer and O's owner Peter Angelos, which had further delayed the proposed development of the so-called Superblock on Westside of downtown. Angelos had objected to the proposed development on the grounds that it wouldn't include enough protection for historic buildings along the Howard Street and Lexington Avenue block.
City officials have been eyeing the area for redevelopment for years but were hamstrung by numerous obstacles including preservationists' objections and concerns over generous tax breaks requested by developers. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake recently described the $150 million redevelopment plan—which would create more than 200,000 square feet of new retail, living, and office space—as the lynchpin in her plan to add 10,000 new families to Baltimore over the next decade.
It's hard to argue that the Westside doesn't have some catching up to do compared to East Side nabe's like Fells Point, Harbor East, and Canton. Part of the problem is that the district has struggled to define itself. While Harbor East is becoming a shopping and dining destination and Fells Point and Canton are the go to hoods for nightlife, what exactly is the Westside's identity?
One possible answer is an arts district. In fact, this Thursday, May 3, the city will hold a public hearing for a proposal to designate the area the Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District. The designation would grant some tax breaks for arts-related development, and see the neighborhood become the city's third official arts district after Highlandtown and Station North. It makes sense. The Westside is already home to the Hippodrome Theatre and the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower (which contains artists' studios), and it will soon host the newly relocated Everyman Theatre, which is moving into refurbished digs in January 2013.
But is that enough to sustain an arts district? Or is this a case of if you designate it, they will come?
The meeting will be held at the Hippodrome (12 N. Eutaw St.) at 5:30 p.m. We'd be interested to see what residents and business owners in the neighborhood think about the idea. Feel free to let us know!
Image courtesy of the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center at the Hippodrome Theare, (Photo Credit Keith Weller)