Baltimore is one of six US cities now competing for a $30-million federal grant that city planners hope will launch a major redevelopment project in East Baltimore. More than 1,300 public housing units and a school would be demolished in what could eventually be a $1 billion transformation of a 200-acre tract between Harbor East and Johns Hopkins Hospital, in the Perkins-Somerset-Oldtown neighborhoods -- a part of the city long marked by blight, vacancies and violent crime. If the Housing and Urban Development grant is awarded to Baltimore this summer and additional financing can be secured, the project could begin as early as next year.
Perkins Homes, a large public housing complex, as well as City Springs Charter Elementary and Middle School, would be torn down as part of this huge project, which calls for the construction of a new City Springs school complex and more than 2500 new housing units. But to what extent could current residents be displaced? And given the history of past redevelopment efforts, could this project lead to more racial segregation and less affordable housing?
Melody Simmons is a reporter with the Baltimore Business Journal and a veteran observer of the city’s real estate and development scene who has written several articles on the prospective East Baltimore transformation.
Klaus Philipsen is an architect who writes and lectures widely about urban design, city architecture, preservation and transportation issues. He’s the author of Baltimore: Reinventing an Industrial Legacy City, and his commentaries on urban design appear frequently on his blog, Community Architect.
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