When it's completed in the next decade, the transit-oriented development in Owings Mills called Metro Centre might be the biggest of its kind in the Baltimore suburbs partly because this is a somewhat new idea to the area.

Sun reporter Meredith Cohn presents a well-written review of transit oriented development in Owings Mills, but what about Baltimore City, where the planning department has carefully researched and the City Council has enacted extensive zoning legislation for such development (“Transit-oriented developments could reshape Baltimore's commuting landscape, but hurdles remain,” Jan. 14)?

The most logical and exciting locale — Station North Arts District — has been designated with the city’s most intensive zoning. It’s an area where Amtrak meets bike lanes, where buses to New York converge with municipal transit and light rail. It’s a place where artists, students, business folks, residents and the vast traveling public cross paths every day.

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Watch very soon for development of the seedy Amtrak parking lot on East Lanvale Street.

Watch further as new platforming hides the unsightly Amtrak rails and the I-83 concrete — attractive platforming and the air rights above that will support low-rise apartments and strategic retail sites. And watch for development that rejuvenates two very large assemblages of properties at the corner of North Avenue and North Charles Street— two of Baltimore’s lengthiest arteries.

Watch, too, the youthful vitality of the adjacent and growing University of Baltimore, the Maryland Institute College of Art and Johns Hopkins University. And watch the continuing proliferation of Washington D.C. residents who are cashing in their high-priced homes to relocate and commute from Penn Station in Baltimore.

Just last month, a row home two blocks from Penn Station, close to the relatively new Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School, sold for an astounding $412,000. Cities are the centers of commerce, education, the courts of law and the arts. History teaches us that cities don’t die.

We can learn from that history. We can bet on Baltimore and on improved public education and lower crime statistics. I won’t live to see it, but I’m betting that transit-oriented development in the geographical center of our exciting city will make Baltimore again a beacon of urban joy, high culture and hope.

Alan Shecter, Baltimore

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