Several exciting tours of projects, communities, and neighborhoods from throughout the greater Baltimore area will be included as part of the 2015 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference. Tours are scheduled on Thursday morning and afternoon (January 29th), and on Sunday morning (February 1st).
Please Note: Most tours will include walking and some time spent outdoors. Given the colder temperatures expected in Baltimore in February, warm attire is strongly recommended, along with comfortable walking shoes.
Thursday, January 29 – Tours Starting in the Morning
Tour 1: Growing Local – A “Shore” Recipe for Smart Growth
8:30 AM – 5:30 PM (all-day tour)
Add one Arts and Entertainment District; sear with development interest; mix generously with land conservation; blend in community engagement; and sprinkle with “right-sized” economic development. Come hear our recipe for implementing smart growth from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, one of the last great Chesapeake Bay landscapes. Surrounded by major metropolises, this rural region is working to harness development to grow vibrancy without losing its inherent character.
During our journey, recipe ingredients (tour highlights) include an overview of rural transportation issues, innovations in farming and local food, and efforts to draw in tourism opportunities. Take a look into how the small town of St. Michaels is defining its brand of vibrancy – from consideration of a highway bypass to nature trails and public access debates to revitalization of a once-thriving business corridor important to the local African-American community. Our journey includes a lunchtime stop at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum to experience the region’s connection to its heritage. Speakers will share the region’s celebrating of the War of 1812, and a one-of-a-kind telling of the Underground Railroad. On our way back, see firsthand the adaptive reuse of an 1890’s mill building and enjoy the Kent Island local farmers’ market that thrives year-round. Transportation is by bus, with lunch and snacks provided. Warm, casual attire and walking shoes are encouraged.
Tour 2: Transforming a City’s Food Environment: Urban Agriculture, Food Entrepreneurism and Policy in Baltimore
8:30 AM – 12:30 PM
As communities across the country work to improve healthy food access and economic opportunity, Baltimore offers a successful example of how one midsized city has used thoughtful planning to engage a range of stakeholders in changing city policy, confronting disparities in access to healthy food, and promoting food innovation. Starting with an overview of the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative, the tour will highlight the city’s growing mix of for-profit and nonprofit urban farms, its unique responses to food deserts, and efforts to improve equitable food entrepreneurism. Meet some of the farmers, entrepreneurs, researchers, policymakers and advocates as the tour makes its way around the city. Tour stops include Great Kids Farm, Baltimore City Public Schools’ 33-acre farm; the Strength to Love II Farm, which produces lettuces and greens in 16 hoop houses in West Baltimore through an innovative partnership; and Real Food Farm to see their Mobile farmers’ market truck. See public markets, the home of a future food hub and Johns Hopkins University, a key institutional partner in the city’s food renaissance. Tour will be by bus with some walking. Participants are encouraged to dress warmly. Refreshments will be provided. Lunch will be provided and is sponsored by Kaiser Permanente.
Tour 3: Smart-Growth Transect: Urban Revitalization and Resource Preservation in Central Maryland
9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
How does smart growth play out in cities, community centers, and rural areas? The best kind of smart growth is a combined strategy of interlocking parts involving all land uses. Focusing state resources and local energy in downtowns makes good use of infrastructure and keeps people close to jobs and services, thereby preserving rural land. To see how smart growth works in Central Maryland, participants will travel from a transforming Baltimore neighborhood to a revitalizing inner-ring suburb to a protected rural area, all within nine miles.
Baltimore’s Station North neighborhood is undergoing great change, thanks in part to Maryland’s Sustainable Communities Tax Credit Program, which supports the rehabilitation of historic properties. In Station North, we see many new projects – offices, schools, and arts venues. Just beyond the city line, Towson, a community of 55,000, is remaking itself. The strategically located county seat is redeveloping its downtown from a 9-to-5 jobs center to a 24/7 livable community. Just beyond the Baltimore Beltway lies the Urban-Rural Demarcation Line, created in 1967 by the Baltimore County Planning Board to protect agriculture and natural resources. The rural side of the line is largely preserved farmland; and its proximity to Baltimore offers profitable urban markets to farmers as well as fresh food and great escapes for visiting city dwellers. Transportation by bus. Light refreshments will be provided.
Tour 4: Build Schools, Build Neighborhoods: Walking Tour of Neighborhoods Being Revitalized by 21st-Century School Modernization
9:30 AM – 12:30 PM
In 2013, Maryland passed legislation that will leverage about $1 billion for rebuilding some 30 Baltimore schools to 21st-century standards. This unprecedented, urban school-modernization initiative has the potential to enhance the competitive strength of existing communities and create resiliency.
We will visit two communities in the midst of transformation centered around new schools. At Waverly Elementary Middle School we will meet with residents who organized a 10-year campaign to build a new school that opened in 2014. Learn about the building’s green features and the logistical challenges of fitting the new school on the existing site in a fully built urban environment.
We will also explore the Reservoir Hill community, a mixed-income, racially diverse community with a neighborhood elementary school that will soon be rebuilt. Neighborhood leaders will lead us on a 30-minute walking tour, where we will see various redevelopment models, including vacant houses renovated through the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, vacant land reclaimed for an urban community farm, affordable housing preserved, market-rate housing renovated through Healthy Neighborhoods, and the school to be modernized. The stop includes a discussion at the school with community leaders and architects about the community-needs assessment and design process. Participants are encouraged to dress warmly and wear comfortable shoes. A light snack will be provided.
Tour 5: Open Studios Baltimore: Station North Arts and Entertainment District
9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
This tour will feature speakers from varied fields who have partnered to develop the state-designated and internationally renowned Station North Arts and Entertainment District into a thriving community through projects that provide housing, resources and opportunities to artists, long-time residents, students and visitors. The tour begins at the award–winning Baltimore Design School, a public charter high school developed through a public-private partnership and focused on fashion, architecture and graphic design. The Design School is a state-of-the-art facility in a repurposed industrial building and provides a top-quality education to students from the area. Other sites on the tour will include the Station North Tool Library, which provides individuals and organizations affordable access to tools, skills, and workspace to positively direct development, rehabilitation, and construction of their environment and their lives. Get a glimpse of community green space, gardens, and use of open spaces for arts programs, including Y-Not Lot, Graffiti Alley, and Charles North Cooperative Garden. Also check out examples of the public art facilitated through Open Walls, Open Walls 2, and other projects; as well as the Chicken Box, which functions as a gallery and the offices of Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc. staff. The tour will also explore artist live-work adaptive reuse buildings, including the Copycat and City Arts, and rehabilitated theaters, the Parkway which will host the Maryland Film Festival, and the Centre, an incubator space that will house five non-profit organizations and the film departments of Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Maryland Institute College of Art. We will also stop in at Red Emma’s Bookstore, a worker cooperative and “a grassroots answer to the collapse of civic infrastructure, a radical gathering place and experiment in self-organized education.” Participants are encouraged to dress warmly and wear comfortable shoes.
Tour 6: Masonville and the Port of Baltimore
9:30 AM – 12:30 PM
The Port of Baltimore has been an economic driver for the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland for more than 300 years. Baltimore grew up around the working waterfront that moves over 30 million tons of cargo each year. Ensuring that busy marine terminals are good neighbors has been a crucial part of the mission of the Maryland Port Administration and its partners.
How can industrial water-dependent businesses continue to thrive in areas that are being revitalized? How do the shifting global supply-chain dynamics affect the future of a regional economic engine? Where can dredged material from Baltimore Harbor Channels be safely contained? And what does all of this mean for the people who live and work here?
This mobile workshop will answer these questions and take guests on a tour of the Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center to show how the partners – the Port, the City and the community – came together to create win-win solutions for everyone. Participants are encouraged to dress warmly.
Tour 7: Growing Green on DC’s Metro Green Line: Walkable, Affordable, Ecological TOD
11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Emerging from formerly shrinking central city neighborhoods, sterile urban renewal enclaves and idled industrial lands, Washington, DC’s Metrorail Green Line is bubbling with activity. This tour will provide an overview of the urban revitalization issues from a diverse range of transit-oriented development along the Green Line. The tour begins in the Columbia Heights and U Street neighborhoods, which were devastated by the 1968 riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After decades, revitalization has been catalyzed by the Green Line, and the multi-racial, mixed-income neighborhoods now represent dynamic examples of urban renaissance. From the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station, the tour will walk along the nation’s largest urban renewal project of 70,000 federal employees and no residents. We will discuss the plan to transform the area into the SW Ecodistrict, a model of mixed-use urban sustainability built on President Obama’s Executive Order 13514. The tour will also explore the emerging waterfront neighborhoods, including “The Wharf,” a multi-billion, mixed-use, urban riverfront project. The last stop is the booming Capital Riverfront neighborhood at Navy Yard, which includes new office and residential buildings, renovated public housing, engaging public spaces and the Nationals Baseball Stadium. Transportation includes a tour bus to DC, Metrorail and walking. Participants are encouraged to dress warmly. A box lunch on the bus and light refreshments included.
Thursday, January 29 – Afternoon Tours
Tour 8: Charm City Cycles! Baltimore’s Joyous Evolution around Cycling and Bike Infrastructure
Join us for an experience that’s part bike tour, part bike audit and part Q&A – led by a world bike champion, a local bike advocate and a state bike planner. See how federal and state funding decisions translate into conditions on the street. The route will feature Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Jones Falls and Druid Hill. Explore how America’s historically car-centric mindset shaped today’s bike networks, and how advocates, activists, planners and engineers are rebalancing the network toward cyclists. We’ll highlight gaps as well as connectivity in the bike network, consider treatments for bicycle-friendly streets, and explain how funding flows through the MPO to local government projects. Participants are encouraged to dress warmly. A bike, helmet, and light snack will be provided.
Tour 9: Baltimore’s Mill Valley: Reuse Resilience and Revitalization
Join us for a ride on Baltimore’s light rail to the historic mills of the Jones Falls Valley. This historically industrial area is enjoying a renaissance as a series of mixed-use redevelopment projects. They are now attractive hubs for high-quality housing, office space, and restaurants, returning the mill complexes to their historic position as economic hubs for the community. The tour will feature robust discussion of adaptive reuse, historic preservation, and disaster preparedness (much of this area is within a floodway) as essential elements of smart growth for aging industrial cities.
We will ride the light rail to the Woodberry station and proceed on foot to the redeveloped mill properties of Clipper Mill, Meadow Mill and Union Mill. Clipper Mill is home to artisans, professional offices and other businesses, including the popular farm-to-table restaurant Woodberry Kitchen. It also boasts a mix of new apartments, townhouses and contemporary single-family houses that overlook Druid Hill Park. Meadow Mill is located just below Clipper Mill and has been converted to include such uses as an athletic club, brewery and artisans’ studios. Union Mill is an innovative, LEED Silver project featuring 54 units of housing set aside for teachers in Baltimore schools and 25,000 square feet of non-profit office space. Participants are encouraged to dress warmly.
Tour 10: Blending the Old and the New: How Historic Preservation Enhances Redevelopment
Walking distance from the Hilton Baltimore Hotel are several nationally recognized historic preservation projects, a local historic district and innovative new development. This mix of the old and new has created an area rich in diversity of building types, architectural styles and building uses. Historic preservation has been an essential partner in enhancing this area of Baltimore, helping to blend the old and new to create diverse and dynamic places. So grab your coat, put on your hat, and let’s go see for ourselves the power of preservation. We will walk to Ridgely’s Delight, a local historic district, which began as an urban homesteading project. Next, we will visit Oriole Park at Camden Yards – the ballpark that changed baseball – and see how preservation was instrumental to its success. We will walk to Abolitionist’s Corner and discuss interpretive opportunities for public history, and then head north to see adaptive reuse projects, historic theaters, cast-iron architecture and loft buildings. Along the way, we will meet the planners, developers, architects and neighborhood residents who have helped to redevelop and revitalize this part of town. Please wear your walking shoes; we will traverse between two-and-a-half and three miles. Participants are encouraged to dress warmly. Refreshments will be provided.
Tour 11: Data, Community, Capacity and Capital: A Comprehensive Approach to Revitalization – CANCELLED
What does it take to revitalize communities that have endured decades of disinvestment? Join us to learn how The Reinvestment Fund partnered with the City of Baltimore and local leaders to use smart data, community engagement, development capacity and capital to catalyze investments in two Baltimore neighborhoods. See how these investments that build off local assets and anchor institutions have dramatically changed a neighborhood in just five years, reducing housing vacancy rates from 44% to 8%.
But we didn’t stop there. Any comprehensive strategy has to include more than homes – families need healthy food, amenities and quality education options for their children. On this tour, you will see and learn about elements of this strategy that includes over 250 new and rehabbed homes that combine modern design with environmental sustainability. You will visit other turnkey investments, including the Centre Theater – currently the largest vacant building in Station North, which is being repurposed as a multi-use nonprofit art space and theater – and the Henderson-Hopkins school, a joint venture with Johns Hopkins University that created the first public school built in East Baltimore in more than 20 years. Sean Closkey from TRF will guide the bus tour with community leader Pastor Calvin Keene, Michael Braverman from Baltimore’s Department of Housing and Community Development, and Joe McNeely of the Central Baltimore Partnership. Light refreshments will be included.
Tour 12: Investments Pay Off: Creating a Best Neighborhood Community
Baltimore’s City Paper named Remington the “Best Neighborhood in Baltimore.” See the newest developments that are shaping this vibrant, emerging neighborhood. An independent theatre, local restaurants, affordable homes for the city’s teachers and office space for educational nonprofits have all identified Remington as the ideal location. You’ll hear from the developer whose vision for the neighborhood has energized the community to tackle redeveloping vacant lots into public green spaces and parks. Financing experts are on-hand to discuss the roles of a community loan fund and New Markets Tax Credits have played in revitalizing the neighborhood and a Baltimore school boardmember makes connections to community development and education. Hear from a resident who shares memories and a vision for Baltimore’s best neighborhood. Transportation includes a bus and some walking (approximately one mile). Light refreshments are included.
Sunday, February 1
Tour 13: Innovative Greening Strategies to Transform Baltimore’s Vacant Land – CANCELLED
8:30 AM – 12:30 PM
This tour will highlight vacant land reuse strategies and the public-private partnerships between the City of Baltimore, the Parks & People Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service that make vacant land transformation possible in Baltimore. The 14,000 vacant lots can help grow Baltimore to be resilient, sustainable and competitive in the 21st century. This vision is becoming a reality with the mayor’s launch of the Growing Green Initiative. The Growing Green Initiative is a City-led effort to use sustainable, innovative and cost-effective practices for stabilizing and holding land for redevelopment, and reusing vacant land to green neighborhoods, reduce stormwater runoff, grow food, and create community spaces. Participants will visit a variety of sites that embody the Growing Green Initiative, including a few of the nearly 800 vacant lots that have been adopted and turned into gardens and community spaces, an example of one of the 12 urban farms operating and selling their produce at local farmers’ markets, and a neighborhood park that incorporates stormwater management. The sites will illustrate the environmental, economic and social benefits and impacts of vacant land reuse. Participants are encouraged to dress warmly. Light refreshments will be provided.
Tour 14: Water Works: A Tour of Innovative Water-Quality Improvement Projects in Baltimore
9:30 AM – 12:30 PM
From its famous blue crabs to the naval battle at Ft. McHenry that inspired the Star Spangled Banner to its port that helped make the city an industrial and immigration hub, Baltimore’s heritage is tied to its waterways. Local and upstream pollution jeopardize Baltimore’s waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. Local nonprofit organizations leading this tour – Blue Water Baltimore, Parks & People Foundation and Waterfront Partnership – work with multi-sector partners in support of Baltimore’s swimmable/fishable harbor goal. This tour will feature some of the most interesting water-quality improvement projects and strategies in the city.
Tour guides will discuss all aspects that make the projects work – technical considerations, community engagement, partner roles, financing and more. Guests will receive goodie bags of locally produced snacks and plenty of warm beverages to keep them warm as they visit some of the coolest projects in Baltimore. We’ll visit the Baltimore Community ToolBank rain garden, located in an industrial warehouse. Next, you’ll see what appears at first glance to be a deck, but is a working bark water filtration device. You’ll walk brand new “blue alleys” in East Baltimore and see complementary curb extensions. Finally, the tour will conclude with a stop at the project that has brought Baltimore national attention (including being the top video on Reddit for weeks) – the Inner Harbor Water Wheel, which harnesses the power of the Jones Rivers to collect litter and debris before it enters the harbor. Participants are encouraged to dress warmly. Light refreshments will be provided.
Tour 15: Charm City on Foot: Walk Audit Workshop with Dan Burden
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Having worked in more than 3,500 communities and led more than 4,000 walk audits throughout North America; Dan Burden is both the inventor of walk audits and the “Johnny Appleseed” of spreading the virtues of walkability around the continent. This year, Burden was named a Transportation Champion of Change by the White House. His work helps define the future of transportation, and is now exemplified by thousands of new innovations that give full support to walking, bicycling, transit, living in place, driving less, and enjoying life more. In 2001, Time named Burden one of the world’s six most important civic innovators. He is currently Director of Innovation and Inspiration for Blue Zones, LLC, and was previously Director of Innovation and Inspiration at the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, and co-founder of Walkable Communities, Inc. and the Bicycle Federation of America. This walk audit – also known as a “walking workshop” – will explore techniques and methods of discovery by foot, while trekking portions of Baltimore’s public realm. Discoveries will include an interactive exploration of historic Hollins Market, and the near west side, including Edgar Allan Poe’s grave. The group will discuss features of the built environment that matter most, such as streetscapes, urban development, urban infill, public space, parking and traffic management principles and practice. Light refreshments will be provided. Wear warm clothing and comfortable shoes.
Tour 16: Data-Driven Preservation: Mapping Baltimore’s Historic Fabric
10:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Join us for an interactive tour that links the past, present and future of the Union Square-Hollins Market Historic District. Revitalization of old places requires both science and art; on this tour, you’ll learn about both. Experts in Baltimore’s history, historic preservation, sustainable revitalization and community development will be your guides; and LocalData, an award-winning mobile app, will be your handy tool. Participants will leave this tour with an understanding of place-based revitalization and the conduct of field assessments using the LocalData mobile app, a digital toolkit allows anyone with a mobile device and Internet access to collect and manage place-based data. We’ll begin with an overview of revitalization in Baltimore’s historic neighborhoods, and delve into cutting-edge approaches to neighborhood sustainability, revitalization and equity, and nontraditional historic resource surveys. The value of place-based data for strategic decision-making will be emphasized. Tour leaders will demonstrate how to download and use the app on your smartphone or tablet (suggested, but not required). Next, we’ll ride back in time on the Circulator to the Union Square-Hollins Market Historic District, where we’ll see Hollins Market, which was built in the mid-1800’s and is the oldest existing public-market building in the city. Other buildings and streets of historic interest will also be viewed. Finally, participants will conduct a guided field survey of selected properties using the LocalData app, collecting and analyzing data, and strategies that could be used to increase neighborhood vitality.