Insights from HafenCity and IBA_Hamburg for Baltimore's Howard Street corridor
This article is another in the series of pieces I am doing for the "Europe in Baltimore" project by the European Union National Institutes of Culture.
-- "Lessons from HafenCity and IBA_Hamburg applied to Baltimore’s Howard Street corridor
Howard Street is the main light rail corridor in Baltimore. Despite or because of the presence of the first generation light rail system--which is heavy and bulky and is complemented by an equally heavy-grained street treatment--the corridor isn't successful, with myriads of empty buildings and surface parking lots.
However, on the southern part of the district, the developing Bromo Tower Arts and Entertainment District is bringing renewed energy to the the area, which provides new opportunities for revitalization, especially as the area east of the corridor, especially Charles Street, has seen significant improvement over the past few years, including leasing of many ground floor spaces that had been previously vacant, and the conversion of some buildings to residential along with some new construction of residential multiunit buildings.
Note that when I worked for Baltimore County, I made some unheeded recommendations with regard to transit expansion planning there, starting with connecting the subway and the light rail at the Hutzler Building, see "From the files: transit planning in Baltimore County."
When Baltimore builds the Red Line light rail system, it would be nice if at the same time they could upgrade the vehicles on the current line. As the representatives from Hamburg commented, "it isn't light rail, it's heavy rail." But that isn't in the budget so far.
I know it's way too expensive, but I also wonder if it would be worth doing a cut and cover tunnel for the light rail on Howard Street. A lot of the light rail that Sound Transit is building in Seattle is being put into tunnels, although they are boring the tunnels, not doing cut and cover.