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How about arts districts in Baltimore County?

Colorful murals adorn several of the buildings along Pennsylvania Avenue. Community residents and leaders are hoping to revitalize the area into an arts district.
Colorful murals adorn several of the buildings along Pennsylvania Avenue. Community residents and leaders are hoping to revitalize the area into an arts district. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

We are excited to see the designation of Pennsylvania Avenue in Baltimore and Easton as arts and entertainment districts, as indicated in your article (“Maryland designates Baltimore's Pennsylvania Ave. new arts & entertainment district in bid for revitalization,” July 1).

The article points out the proven economic development value and the return to the taxpayer that results from the creation of arts and entertainment districts. Unfortunately, Baltimore County has none, but they are coming.

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This bolsters the proposal of turning the now vacant 14-acre, historic, Pikesville National Guard Armory property on Reisterstown Road into such a valuable artists venue, along with recreation and other compatible uses. Converting many of the historic garages into artists studios and galleries can serve as a magnet to draw people to browse, and hopefully buy, the art work and crafts, and then eat or buy something from one of the small commercial ventures, such as restaurants and shops.

This model has been successful in many similarly challenged communities all over the country. In this modern internet age, older commercial uses are facing significant challenges. More creative redevelopment models must be utilized. This artist model, combined with recreation and other small commercial uses and programming of public spaces, provides attractions that the consumer cannot experience on the internet.

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Our Baltimore County Executive, Johnny Olszewski, Jr., has in fact said he wants to see arts and entertainment districts in Baltimore County. He supports utilizing the Pikesville Armory site with artists, recreation and other compatible usages. We view with great expectations the growing collaboration occurring between 1000 Friends of Pikesville, Inc. (now 1,480 strong), the Greater Pikesville Recreation Council, the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce, the veterans group at the armory, all of our members of the House of Delegates, our county councilman and our county executive. Together, we hope to create at the armory a compelling attraction that will become the economic engine that is the catalyst that drives the revitalization and future sustainability of Pikesville.

Melvin Mintz and Howard Needle, Pikesville

The writers are chairman of the board and president of 1,000 Friends of Pikesville, Inc.

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