Mayor to announce steps to aid downtown economy


It's been more than a month and a half since Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke received a comprehensive set of ideas to revitalize downtown Baltimore's economy. And though none of the suggestions has been put into action yet, the mayor this week will announce a list of top priorities that includes changes in historic preservation guidelines, traffic patterns and the agencies that run the city's public spaces.

As early as today or tomorrow, Mr. Schmoke will announce the first few recommendations his administration intends to follow, according to Rachel Edds, a city Planning Department official whom Mr. Schmoke appointed to coordinate the overall project and set priorities.

That task will continue for many months, Ms. Edds said, because the June 8 report, "The Renaissance Continues: A 20-year Strategy for Downtown Baltimore," contains hundreds of suggestions that must be studied for their value and practicality.

The first set of ideas involves:

* Historic preservation. The report calls for "certainty and clarity in the historic designation process for the city, developers and preservationists." Specifically, the suggestions include the creation of a Design Advisory Committee to help develop a list ranking the significance of all downtown buildings and districts.

The committee and the Commission on Historical and Architectural Preservation would determine to what extent buildings on the list should be protected, and urban renewal amendments would be enacted to put the list into law.

* Traffic changes. The main goal of these suggestions is to slow traffic down to preserve the retail or residential characters of various neighborhoods and divert vehicles to the outskirts of the downtown area.

* Public spaces. Ms. Edds said that her group is looking at the wide range of agencies involved in managing the area's parks and public squares: who maintains them, who books entertainment, who designs them, etc. Currently the spaces are managed by a hodgepodge of groups, from the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, Center City-Inner Harbor Development, the Planning Department, and the city's promotions, public works and recreation and parks departments.

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad