(image credit, wikipedia)A news story in the Baltimore Sun mentioned that a 77 room boutique hotel will be going into the three top floors of Baltimore Penn Station sometime by late 2010. This will be the first major project in the Station North Redevelopment Plan. The upper offices of Penn Station have been vacant for a long time, and turning them into a hotel is a great idea.
Penn Station is the center of what could be a great redevelopment for a gap that exists between Mt Vernon/CBD and the JHU/Charles Village area of the city. Many commuters come in and out of Penn Station daily, and most make their way downtown to work, or they are heading out of town to jobs in D.C. There are those that work at UB or MICA, which while located close nearby, are really only so much. With the work going on along Oliver Street with the Fitzgerald and new Barnes and Noble, a hotel at Penn Station, and the eventual new UB Law School at the corner of Charles and Mt. Royal, things could be looking way up for this part of town. Slap a streetcar going up Charles/down St. Paul, and you have yourself a destination for employees, residents, visitors, etc.
In addition to the Hotel at Penn Station, Amtrak is also trying to figure out how best to use it's parking lot north of the Station. While a bad idea would be to put a parking garage, a good idea might be to include underground parking (so not to snub the travellers who use it) with a Mixed Use facility. News on this could come by the end of the year.
As someone who frequents Penn Station for business and leisure travel, I would be very happy to see a better use of the place. If one thinks of the great train stations in America, Grand Central, New York Penn, 30th Street, and Washington Union Station to name a few, you see more than just a newsstand and a coffee shop. There are places to eat and shop while you wait for your train. While our Penn Station is smaller and can't accommodate much, the development of the north parking lot should take this into account when they put those plans together. These amenities could also serve the hotel patrons, and make that venture more appealing.
Enjoy your weekend folks.