December, 2011

 Below is the content of the December issue of the Compass Newsletter detailing the release of the TAP study for the Revitalization of Belair Rd.  The full report can be found at this link.

A Message from the Director…
As we begin to look forward to the new year, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the citizens, elected officials, business leaders, developers, non-profit organizations and partners for helping us make Baltimore a better, safer and stronger City in 2011.
As part of this collective effort, I am very pleased to share with you the recent release of “Revitalizing the Belair Road Corridor” a study by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) of Baltimore that was the result of a Department of Planning grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).  The grant helped fund a unique partnership between ULI Baltimore, the City of Baltimore, and Baltimore County to collaboratively study and plan for the revitalization of Belair Road, a regional gateway corridor.
The report is already being used to help promote the revitalization and physical improvement of the corridor and surrounding communities, and we will continue to work with our partners in the City, the County and the Belair Road communities to implement the report’s strategies in 2012, and into the future.
I hope you’ll find the results of this report both interesting and promising.  In the meantime, happy holidays and best wishes for a safe and prosperous new year.


Thomas J. Stosur, Director

Planning by the Numbers…

When we compare the total amount of all retail sales in the Belair Road corridor study area, with the total amount of consumer spending by all residents of the study area,  data reveals that approximately $233 million in spending “leaks” out of these Baltimore City and County communities every year.

Did you know… 

In the 5 mile study area for the Belair Road TAP,the top land uses are:
  • Auto Related Businesses (12%),
  • Beauty Salons and/or Barbershops (12%),
  • Vacant Auto Dealerships (12%), and
  • Other Retail (11%),
And among the "other retail", the top land uses are:
  • Liquor Stores (18%)
  • Variety Stores (14%)
  • Second Hand Goods (12%)
  • Cell Phone Stores (8%)

Hot off the presses… 

"Revitalizing the Belair Road Corridor: A ULI Advisory Services Technical Assistance Panel Report"

On Wednesday, November 16th, ULI Baltimore partnered with the City and County of Baltimore, to publicly release the ULI TAP report at the Maryland School for the Blind’s Jen C. Russo Arts Center.  The ULI TAP Co-Chair, Matt D’Amico introduced Baltimore Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore County Executive, Kevin Kamenetz, who both expressed their support and gratitude for the hard work that went into developing strategies to revitalize the Belair Road corridor, one of the gateway corridors that link the County and the City.
During the event, Panelist Chuck McMahon provided an overview of the history of the corridor.  He reviewed the corridor’s aging commercial infrastructure, its density of automotive land uses, and the challenges of commercial vacancies and underutilized commercial space.
Panelist Peter Garver’s presentation focused on development potential, highlighting the unique commercial nodes that surround major intersections and have an existing foundation for pedestrian oriented retail.  It was proposed that these nodes, located at Belair-Erdman, Gardenville and Overlea, could be linked by redeveloping adjacent “opportunity areas” which were identified in the report. Mr. Garver also made recommendations for potential retail and residential development in these opportunity areas.
The overall recommendations included streetscape beautification, façade improvements, strengthening nearby residential neighborhoods, and the branding and marketing of the corridor and its nodes to the residents and the commuters that pass through daily.
Following a review of recommendations, planners Jill Lemke (Baltimore City) and Laurie Hay (Baltimore County), presented a brief overview of next steps being undertaken to implement the plan.  For example, a non-profit partnership has applied for Community Investment Tax Credits which will allow businesses and individuals to donate to the effort and by doing so, earn tax credits of more than 50% of the value of the contribution.  The funds generated could be used to fund a detailed market study and other revitalization projects.  In addition, a number of transportation improvement projects were outlined, including a commitment from Mayor Rawlings Blake to fund a Complete Streets strategy for the corridor.
At the conclusion of the presentations several community residents pledged their continued support for the redevelopment of the Belair Road corridor and offered to continue working with the City and County on future programs and planning efforts.

The Belair Road TAP 

Planning for the Belair Corridor 

In March 2011, the Planning Department partnered with the Baltimore County Department of Planning, TND Planning Group and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) of Baltimore for a two day study of the Belair Road Corridor.  The study area runs from Sinclair Lane on the southern edge, to the I-695 beltway in Baltimore County.
The event was part of the ULI Baltimore Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) program which provides expert, multidisciplinary advice on land use and real estate issues facing communities in the Greater Baltimore Region. Similar to ULI District Councils throughout the country, ULI Baltimore utilizes its broad membership to offer objective and responsible advice to local governments, stakeholders and organizations.
During the Baltimore TAP nine ULI panelists studied development issues and opportunities along  the corridor, drawing on their experiences in real estate, retail development, transportation, architecture, economics and urban design.
The study focused on the following questions:
  • How can the corridor be revitalized to reduce commercial vacancies and attract new retail?
  • How can traffic and transportation challenges be addressed along the corridor?
  • What strategies could be used to create active nodes at major intersections?
  • How can we develop a cohesive branding strategy and streetscape identity, while maintaining the unique qualities of each node?
  • What can the City and County do to alter the perceptions of the corridor?
On the first day of the TAP, which was held at St. Anthony’s of Padua, the panelists took a bus tour of the study area to see the various retail nodes and large vacant parcels.  After the tour, panelists interviewed over 30 stakeholders from the County and City in focus groups that included elected officials, homeowners, business owners, and community organizations.
During the second day of the event, the City and County Planning Departments and the panelists collaborated to outline a draft report.  The process culminated with an evening presentation by ULI staff to stakeholders in St Anthony’s main sanctuary. Each of the ULI panelists gave a brief presentation on what they saw as the strengths and weaknesses for development along the corridor.  Staff presentations highlighted the future development potential in the area and responded to follow-up questions from the audience.  ULI panelists left the event with additional information and research they used in developing the final TAP Report.