Demolition of the Morris A Mechanic Theater took place in 2013. The area was never redeveloped.
Demolition of the Morris A Mechanic Theater took place in 2013. The area was never redeveloped. (Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun)

Well, here’s an idea for Baltimore. What about that fenced off, empty block at the intersection of Charles and Baltimore Streets; one that in times past was the home of the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre and where now a “no trespassing” sign stands.

Could its planned reuse be the spark that generates the next “urban renewal movement” for that important, yet tired area of the city, an area that often appears to be passed over in favor of visiting Harbor East? Charles Street needs something fresh, exciting and new — and here’s the thinking. My wish is for Charles Street to have that one notable outdoor plaza that is not specific to any building’s individual entrance, but supports the interplay between all.

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This proposal for the referenced empty lot is to replace it with a diverse, inviting green space that activates the Charles Street corridor — meeting the need for mobility, social activity and in-person communication. Two wonderful old buildings, the Lord Baltimore and Hotel Monaco, will now front this proposed commons. The design of this open plaza will create comfortable places for folks to relax, gather and take a break. There would be areas for ceremony and exhibition, for outdoor meetings under trellised structures, for gathering and performance, for transit connections and maybe even be the location for high quality food trucks serving lunch.

Think about it. There could be “partnerships” and pop-ups with nearby businesses. Maybe even public internet wifi access. There could be celebrations of wellness and fitness. And yes, maybe even a performance or two by kids from the nearby Baltimore School for the Arts. Or, then again, maybe just some quiet time by yourself.

With some good thinking, we can now have an urban identity that focuses on community. Having this active “green” plaza located on Baltimore’s historic Charles Street is key. It’s not hard to imagine, only hard to do.

We are Baltimore!

Walter M. Daly, Baltimore

The writer is an architect.

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