In so many ways Baltimore spent much of the second half of the twentieth century as a city that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory: A vibrant industrial and trading city with a notable financial sector as well (in the decade after World War II), a city of some 2 million people who enjoyed the second most extensive trolley-car network in the US, a city with a pennant-winning baseball team (Yes, it was that long ago…). But by the late 1960s, the city was riven with racial violence, ‘white flight,’ and the secretly organized dismantling of much of its public transport for the sake of union jobs in a GM plant (now greatly reduced and outside the city). Needless, to say, the Orioles remain comfortably buried in the cellar of the AL East. Fortunately, he most recent efforts to revitalize the city, with the overwhelming input of Johns Hopkins University (disclaimer: the blogger is a graduate of said institution), are drawing support, ever-growing funds, and even praise — all of which deserve our attention.
Citywire.net has a recent East Baltimore Development, Inc.” was formed to help avoid the sorts of neighborhood-destroying projects that had marred so many ‘revitalization’ projects (In Baltimore, notably the Inner Harbor and Interstate 83).who reports that then Mayor Martin O’Malley (now Governor of Maryland) convinced the Casey Foundation to join in with over a billion of its own dollars to assist the development of dozens of city blocks just north of the famous Hopkins Hospital in east Baltimore. The Foundation joined in on the stipulation that real effort be made to assist the numerous poor families who would be displaced by the effort. “
According to Mr Pierce’s report, the success of the partnership has gone beyond even the modestly positive expectations:
Notwithstanding the more than 630 families moved, there’s not been a single law suit, and post-relocation surveys of residents moved show 8.5 satisfaction on a 1 (worst) to 10 (best) scale.
And a solid mixed-income neighborhood — ranging from low to higher income, literally the first of post-World War II Baltimore — is taking shape, complemented by a life sciences buildings, graduate student housing, a new state public health lab, a prospective commuter rail station, and more. So it’s small wonder that Casey has announced it is now championing nationally its approach of “Responsible Redevelopment” — to build reconstructed neighborhoods based on robust resident engagement and technical assistance to help neighborhood leaders negotiate effectively with developers and city officials.
Now “Responsible Development” has become the buzz word for the word done in Baltimore and the sorts of work that can be done to communities needing redevelopment without being bulldozed for the profit of middle-class landlords. And Baltimore might again become thein the positive sense.