Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Are We Seeing a Baltimore Renaissance?

There is a lot that is awfully wrong with this city, and the Recession really hasn't helped us out a whole deal. The murder rate is back up again (but overall violent crime is still down), there are blocks of trash strewn dilapidated neighborhoods, and stalled places like the Superblock and Old Town Mall still frustrate and confuse us. But here me out folks, we could honestly be seeing a Baltimore Renaissance happening around us.

There has been a whole lot of news recently about old office stock being sold to be developed into apartments: 10 Light St, 301 N Charles, and 114 E Lexington to name a few. All of these that are in what used to be the traditional downtown can help to create a more lively area. In so many places off the Inner Harbor, the vibrancy of the streets dies down as office workers leave after 5pm. This has the opportunity to change dramatically when the once mostly office complexes are now interspersed with residential and mixed-use buildings.

This has the potential to make for an interesting future downtown!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tomorrow it's okay to listen to Christmas Music

Who are we kidding? We've been playing Christmas music in the house since the day after Thanksgiving. The Christmas decorations were already primed and ready to be put up as soon as the Turkey was cold in the refrigerator. They may have been put up on November 23rd, the wreath wasn't added until the 28th.

Ok, but tomorrow is December 1st, so now it's fully appropriate to bust out the Christmas cheer for the rest of the month.

And what better way to get into the festive spirit by seeing what is happening around town in the next few days to kick off everything. If you haven't been up in Hampden as of late 34th street and the Avenue are already decked out. 34th Street is as bright and gaudy and wonderful as ever. The shops on the Avenue have their store windows decorated and light, and the whole street looks lively from Chestnut Ave to Falls Road. Sunday is the Mayor's Christmas Parade which traverses from Poly/Western to Hampden, and with the temperatures forecast in the mid to upper 50s it will be pleasant!

If you're downtown the Baltimore Farmer's Market is heading into its final month of 2012, but still going strong. Creative Alliance on Eastern Avenue is hosting it's Merry Mart craft show from 11am-5pm with tons of local artists, so it will be a great place to find some early Christmas deals...and help local business.

Thursday December 6th is the lighting of the Washington Monument. A Monumental Occasion is in its 41st year and Lardarius Webb will be hosting since he can't be on the football field this season for the Ravens. Ceremony starts at 7pm with lighting and fireworks before 8pm. This is a great and unique Baltimore tradition, and if you have never gone, we would encourage you to do so.

Lastly, It's A Waterfront Life, is up and running in the Inner Harbor. The nightly light show projected on the Powerplant building is a sight to see, especially if you're a tourist and don't know what to expect. Santa's Christmas village is next to the pavilions. If you are prepared for an extra walk (or quick ride on the CCC) head over to Harbor East which is decked out in winter decorations and the new for this year Window Wonderland, where shops and restaurant windows have been decorated by local Baltimore artists.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Busiest Travel Day of the Year

Tomorrow is the day that everyone looks forward to; today, on the other hand is the busiest travel day of the year. Across the country folks are packing the car or heading to the airport, or jumping on the train to go someplace for Thanksgiving.

Around here that means cars will be cramming onto I-95, people will be queuing up at the security lines at BWI waiting to board completely full flights, commuters will be taking the early MARC train home, and long-distance travelers will be funneling into Penn Station to catch also full Amtrak trains along the NEC. This is also the time of the year that if you're lucky you will see MARC equipment making runs as extra Amtrak trainsets up the NEC toward New York to accommodate the holiday travelers.

This year I won't be making the travels on Thanksgiving, instead Skyline wife and I are making the family come to us! In the past I have made many trips out of Baltimore Penn Station and Philadelphia 30th Street (when I lived there) at Thanksgiving, and it is a great sight to see our old public buildings teeming with people coming and going like I guess they would have been more frequently during their golden age. I sometimes just wish our city would invest a little more into Penn Station so visitors do not need to be greeted by awful bathrooms, completely empty upper floors, and rusted un-used platform stairs....maybe one day. Oh, but at least we'll have a swanky new sign in 2013. Well at least it's some improvement.

Whether you're baking, roasting, or deep frying your turkey; or going out to dinner, have a Happy Thanksgiving! And do resist the urge to go shopping after dinner, wait until Friday or maybe Saturday and support small local businesses.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane's Here

So it's been raining all day, and the winds and gusts have increased as our friend Sandy makes her way into town. Baltimore Skyline headquarters in Hampden is stocked with non-perishable food, water, candles, and beer thanks to a last minute run to the Wine Source before they closed up for the night.

Now a "superstorm" as the system no longer was a "tropical" cyclone as it slammed into the winter storm system that was hovering over the upper midwest and Canada. Technically now Sandy is a "post-tropical cyclone", but whatever it still packs a nasty hurricane force punch. She made landfall in southern New Jersey and John Collins on WBAL is showing the eye of the storm passing to the north of Baltimore, in northeastern Maryland. Which means, more rain and more wind for the rest of the night.

It's odd to see downtown Baltimore so empty on a Monday morning, as I was picking up Baltimore Skyline Wife from work this morning at 6:30am, and then driving myself to a few short hours in the office at 8am, and finding few cars and even fewer pedestrians at the corner of Light and Baltimore Streets.
Baltimore has been pretty much shut down all day, with the city restricting traffic on the roads after 6pm to only emergency personnel and hospital employees, so now I would assume there is even much less activity now.

Expecting much of the same tomorrow; MTA, MARC, Amtrak all shut down tomorrow too, with the schools and all the local colleges/universities. Even the mighty Johns Hopkins University has closed for a second day. Roads are going to be restricted until noon tomorrow.

Forecasting for a hell-of-a-lot more rain for the rest of the night! Stay dry!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Adaptive-reuse for S. Calvert Street?


I doubt they read this blog, but good news all around. PMC Property Group, which is working on new apartments at 521 St. Paul Street, and recently purchased 301 N Charles Street for an apartment conversion is in talks with the city to purchase 26-36 S Calvert Street. These properties were originally slated for demolition for the Cityscape Development. In fact some interior demolition began at the old USF&G Annex before the project was put on hold. Now PMC wants to add those buildings to its increasing list of adaptive-reuse projects to convert old office space to residential. I had posted about saving this building two years ago; looks like it may come true!If all goes well PMC could turn these properties on S. Calvert Street into 140 new residential units!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Put Some Birds On It

This is a knockoff from Portlandia, but if you've been to a game recently, you have probably seen this. Adam Jones and Robert Andino up in New York City putting Oriole bird stickers on anything and everything.

Friday, September 7, 2012

They played like Iron Men...

Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
On a night to celebrate the Iron Man, Cal Ripken Jr., these Orioles played like a team of iron men. In front of a sellout crowd of 46,298 the Orioles brought the magic to Camden Yards.

Before the game started, the crowdes gathered to see the unveiling of the Cal Ripken statue in the new Legends Park depicting him fielding backhandedly, as he had so many times between 1981 and 2001. Emotions ran high, and the crowds gave him and all the other O's greats who were there: Brooks, Eddie, Earl, and Jim, a standing ovation. Then the game began.

The Orioles jumped to an early lead with an RBI by Adam Jones that scored JJ Hardy and then a three run shot by Matt Weiters to the left field wall that just barely got over Raul Ibanez's reach and into the stands. Robert Andino and Mark Reynolds added two more solo-shots to bring the Orioles up 6-1 by the end of the 7th.

Things got scary in the 8th. Jason Hammel was plunked in the 4th with a ball hit off his elbow, and finished the night after 5 innings with 6 Ks and giving up 1 run. Randy Wolf came in and pitched well, but got two men out in the 8th, gave up a run and couldn't close the door. Pedro Strop came in and unfortunately, promptly gave up the lead by allowing an RBI single to Granderson, two walks, and another RBI single to Suzuki. Darren O'Day replaced Strop and closed out the inning. Just when the wind appeared to be billowing out of the sails at Camden Yards, Iron Men came to the plate in the bottom half of the 8th.

David Robertson went into pitch, who with a 1.15 WHIP and 2.22 ERA can be dangerous, but not tonight. Adam Jones sent a deep ball right into the Orioles bullpen to say "we got your back, gentlemen"...7-6 Orioles. Matt Weiters sent a single into right field and Mark Reynolds came to the plate. Having already hit one homerun, and having hit 7 in the last 7 games, things could be good, and they were. On the 6th pitch of the at-bat Reynolds sent a 92MPH cutter lobbing for the left field wall. Chris Dickerson jumped to the wall, but it sailed over his head into the stands...9-6 Orioles. Joe Angel called it beautifully on the radio "fastball hit to deep left field, way back there, WAY BACK there, wave that baby bye-bye!". One more Oriole came to the plate in the 8th with big things to contribute. Chris Davis, who up to that point was 0-3, hit the very first pitch he saw right over the right field scoreboard...10-6 Orioles. 4 runs off of three long balls, and there was pandemonium at Camden Yards, and all without an out.

Jim Johnson hit the mound in the top of the 9th and the game was over. A fantastic roller coaster ride of a game and the Orioles game out on top. This will definitely be a game to remember for anyone who watched it, and memorable by far for those of us who were there. On the night we remembered the Iron Man, men of iron came to the plate.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The O-mazing Mark Reynolds

Tom Szczerbowski - Getty Images
Mark Reynolds for all intents and purposes was having a lack-luster season, lot of strikeouts, not a lot of homeruns, and a few too many errors. Then August started. Since then Reynolds is batting near .320 with 8 home runs (4 of which were in the recent Yankees series), 16 RBIs, and has been walked 16 times. His play at First Base has also been very impressive (except when he got tossed when the umpires made a bad call, but we won't go there). If he keeps playing this way in September, the Orioles will increase their power in the line-up. Let's Go O's!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Orioles Magic is Here

The Orioles are going to enter September 2 games back behind the Yankees in the AL East. The Birds had a huge win over the Yankees in NYC tonight in what could be a pivotal season as we enter the final month of the season. There are 6 more head-to-head matches in the season, two more in New York and 4 here next week between the two teams. Anything is possible, but the Orioles seem to have momentum, heart, and drive on their side. We are definitely going to see a winning season, but I think our Birds have what it takes to play some October baseball.

Let's Go O's!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Empty Seats at Camden Yards

The Orioles are 3.5 games behind the Yankees in the AL East with 35 games left to play. Currently the Orioles are holding onto a Wild Card spot, and there is plenty of baseball left. The Orioles are one pace for their first winning season since 1997. So why is it that less than 11,000 people were at the game last night? Over the weekend, 25,000 folks were there on Friday and again on Saturday. What gives? Is this how we are going to support or team, with more empty green seats than fans? A team that has been playing hard all season with great results deserves more support than that.

There are only 8 home Ravens games, that's three Sunday's in September, I think it's reasonably fair to focus a few of the other 6 days of the week to the Orioles when they are here. There are 14 home games in September at Camden Yards against the Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays, and Red Sox, and September weather is nice in Baltimore

Do our Orioles a favor; grab your orange and black, and get yourself over to the ticket counters on Eutaw Street and enjoy the game.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Otakon Returns

Otakon is in full force this weekend in Baltimore. If you are unfamiliar take a look at the photos from the Baltimore Business Journal. Baltimore has been hosting this convention for fans of anime, asian cinema, and more since 1999. Attendance has steadily risen over the past number of years, with it reaching 31,000 last year. While I cannot say I can pick out who these costumed aficionados are supposed to be, what I can say is that there always seems to be a lot of tails, and entirely too many cat eye contacts. Unfortunately this year, I am out of town. If you're downtown at all this weekend, I'm sure it will be great people watching! Enjoy!

Monday, July 9, 2012

BCFD Closes T-15 and S-11; T-10 on 10/1

Truck 15 (opened in 1908) and Squad 11 (opened as Engine 11 in 1874) closed today because of budget cuts. Truck 15 was one of the busiest in the city, responding to nearly 4,100 calls in East Baltimore last year. Make sure to contact your city council rep to voice your opinion: http://www.baltimorecitycouncil.com/. Too bad the Mayor will probably just ignore it anyway.

Baltimore Brew has been following the story of the three companies that will close (Truck 10 opened in 1895 and will close on October 1st) this year. There is a great picture of Truck 15 in front of the Baltimore Cemetery.

There has been plenty of scrutiny over these decisions, which will save the city $500,000 a year, but put communities in East and West Baltimore at a further distance from effect fire support. The city claims other engine companies will be able to cover the territory, but two of the companies that are closing are truck companies, also known historically as "hook & ladder". These firefighters are the ones who go into buildings the rescue residents, and go on the roofs to cut holes and fight fires from up top. The engine companies, while they can pump water onto a fire, do not have the equipment to do the other job. This leave Baltimore City with just 16 truck companies to cover the entire city. With both neighborhoods that will lose truck companies, having so many vacant buildings there is a real concern that fires could spread as the BCFD waits for truck companies to arrive from further away.

Once again, if the Mayor is trying to encourage 10,000 new families by 2022, what message does this send?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Light Rail "Too Light" During Sailabration?

I came across this opinion piece in the Baltimore Sun today:

While he gives praise to the city for putting on a fantastic event for the Sailabration, the same cannot be said for the MTA, especially the Light Rail. I for one did not ride it at all during this past weekend, but I did notice that three-car trains were running most of Saturday. Maybe something more could have been done here?

Big Cities are Booming but not Baltimore

The US Census Bureau recently released its 2011 population estimates which look at the changes in demographics since the 2010 Census. What is clear is that many big cities in the US are growing, and in a recent AP piece it looks like those cities that are growing are doing so faster than their suburbs for the first time in nearly a century. All of the top 20 cities in the US have seen their population tick up over the last year. When you look at the top 30, twenty-eight of the cities have grown. The two who have not: Detroit and our fair city of Baltimore.

So what's going on here? How is it that ever major city surrounding us has grown, but our city continues to shrink in size. You can easily go to the crime rate (which has been on a pretty serious decrease) or the high property taxes (which should start to make a slow move downwards starting this year), but there is somethine else missing. If you look at the AP article, it mentions what other large cities have done to make their environment more friendly to the younger demographics that are moving into urban areas: green spaces, dense development, transportation options, good housing, encouraging business.

I do not think we are doing the best job of this. What is Baltimore doing about keeping the young, educated people here? What is enticing the graduates of Hopkins, UMD, Loyola, UB, and MICA to stay here after school? What are we doing to keep the young families who could be putting their children into the city public and private schools? Where is the push to improve our public squares (those beyond the reach of the Downtown Partnership - Union Square, Franklin Square) and make those inviting places which residents can enjoy.

We can praise the energy that goes into revivng the Inner Harbor and building Harbor East, but while that is great for tourism it does nothing to get residents to stay in the city or gain new residents to offset those who choose to leave.

This is our challenge to the city. You can have a vision, but with no firm strategy nor sustainable goals it's as good as saying we're going to the moon and then never building a rocket.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sailabration and Airshows

There is nothing like watching the Blue Angels streak over the Inner Harbor at low altitude. Along with the tall ships and the throngs of people packing downtown, this has been quite a weekend, and it's not over yet!

The Star Spangled Sailabration kicks off Maryland's commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, which includes the defense of Baltimore, bombardment of Fort McHenry, and the penning of the Star Spangled Banner (expect to see more celebrations as everything culminates in late summer 2014).

Ships, both sailing vessels and gray hulls, from 13 nations came into the Inner Harbor on Wednesday morning, to fanfare, cannon salutes, and military helicopters flying overhead. The Pride of Baltimore II, flying a massive 15-star, 15-stripe ensign escorted in the USS Fort McHenry passed by her namesake as thousands of visitors lined the water to watch and cheer. This was one of those, "Hey, I was there", moments to tell the grandkiddies about in the future. I cannot remember a more recent time where this city has been so excited (plus the Orioles are doing well, so we have that too).

Maryland is the center of the national commemoration of the War of 1812, a conflict that is not easily recalled in the American psyche, but one that Baltimore played a huge and lasting part. It is therefore fit that our fare city will be in the National spotlight throughout this commemoration. I for one look foreword to what the next 2 years will bring. In the meantime, soak up the celebration Baltimoreans!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Don't Agree with the EBDI Opposers

Recently in the news there has been increased opposition to the EBDI development adjacent to the Johns Hopkins Hospital. It has grown to the point where local representatives are going to seek to block any further development or changes to the plan, including seeking an injunction to halt the new Public Health Lab already under construction (which I doubt will happen). They contest that not enough of what was promised will come to fruition, and too many of the original residents have been displaced. While I am disappointed that the original plans for EBDI are unlikely to happen. I don't see the benefit of stopping what is happening. Moreover, I dont agree with their stance.

The Mid-East neighborhoods surrounding JHH have long been in shambles, with most of the housing abandoned and dilapidated. What has occured over the past few years has been a significant improvement, new market-rate and affordable housing (which many former residents have moved into). New office and lab space, a new residential tower for JHU students, the new public health lab which will add jobs, a new home for the Berman Bioethics Institute is now in an old police station which was completely rehabbed, a small new park. There are three new retail spaces set to open this summer, with a Wahlgreen's in the near future. How do you not call this progress? The new life in the neighborhood will only seek to improve the chances of development on neighboring block. There is already more street traffic with the buildings that have opened. Can these local officials not see the what will happen in the next few months? years?

I'm not in favor of bulldozing the past, but the cold reality is that the neighborhood surrounding JHH was long gone, and the rowhomes in terrible condition after years of neglect by both the city, and yes by the residents of the community. EBDI and JHH are trying to make something new and jump start what can be the new community, that is much more diverse with the influx of newer people who might actually want to take care of their new neighborhood.

Just something to think about.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Orioles Keep Going

O's beat the Nationals again today for their 5th in a row, and an American League best 27 wins. Adams Jones got another dinger (his 15th on the year), and so did Nick Markakis. I don't know about you, but this Orioles team is putting some much needed energy into this city. Here's to keeping the good vibes alive throughout the summer!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Nice Weather Is Here

Hey, so we're actually having a spring in Baltimore this year. The weather has been pleasant, and we've had some decent rain, so everything isn't dried out already. I'm sure all the new trees the city has been planting in the past few weeks enjoy that, seeing has the city rarely waters them, and you cannot expect the property owners too (even though they are supposed to).

With the nice weather, along come the people hitting the streets. The Inner Harbor was packed today with throngs of residents and visitors. By all of the orange and black it appears a lot of people were hanging around waiting for the O's game. There were nearly 27,000 fans at Camden Yards last night, and 32,800 tonight (wow). If the O's keep playing like they have been, Camden Yards will be full all summer long.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Downtown Cluster

Anyone stuck in the downtown gridlock during rush hour? I didn't but it seems extra heavy for a Thursday. So here's the thing. Since the JFX has a lane closed northbound, a lot of drivers have sought to avoid the lower stretch as much as possible. Today, Charles Street around the Monument was shut down to accomodate the set up of the the Flower Mart which starts tomorrow. And with that you get the massive gridlock downtown as people try to find other ways out of town!

If only we had a better transit system!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Recap

Orioles have been playing fantastic baseball. 10-1 win on Saturday, coupled with a 5-2 comeback win yesterday in front of a crowd of 31,793 improve the birds to 14-8. Next stops New York and Boston.

Johns Hopkins Hospital began the move into its two brand new towers yesterday, with the move scheduled to be completed today. The new $1.1 billion project sits on a 5 acre site and includes 560 new rooms. Included is a brand new main entrance on Orleans Street.

Baltimore Fishbowl takes a look at the arts scene and growth in Station North, including the City Arts apartments, expansion of MICA, and the new Baltimore Design School.

Peter Angelos' suit against the Superblock project was tossed out last week. Even with the project agreemend deadlines extended to the end of the year, they city continues to pursue a PILOT for the project, so we could see this happening sooner rather than later.

In more Westside news, The Baltimore Sun last week reported that an apartment building project went to the city for approval. The 14-storey building would sit at the corner of Liberty Street and Park Avenue, and would include 92 apartments. If approved, the project could begin within the next year.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

...and we spoke too soon


The agreement deadline between Lexington Square Partners LLC and the city on the Superblock has been extended to December 31st. So knowing how the last five years has gone, nothing will happen between now and December, and the chances that another extension will be granted is probably a fair bet.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Could the Superblock Actually Be Moving Forward?


In other development news, the Mechanic Theatre project could move forward sometime in the next 6 months. Now if only something could happen to the empty lot at 1 Light Street.

Friday, April 6, 2012

2012 Opening Day!

...and the Orioles win 4-2 over the Minnesota Twins! Jake Arrieta gets the win, going 7 innings with 2 hits. Jim Johnson comes in and gets the save. It's April and baseball is back in Baltimore. The O's will be around all summer, so get out to Camden Yards, and participate in the 20th anniversary of our park. We have 161 games left to go, Go O's!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Earth "more than just an" Hour

Earth Hour happened today, between 7:30-8:30pm, when all are encouraged to turn off their lights and power down their energy-using equipment to support awareness of climate change and energy use. This began in 2004, and has grown world-wide and major cities participate by turning off their iconic landmarks, for at least one hour.

So, this got me thinking. Why don't we do this every night? I'm not saying for just one hour, but rather being more conscious of what we have illuminated at night and what really can be turned off. Take for instance some of our landmarks in Baltimore: the domes of City Hall and Johns Hopkins Hospital or the Bromo Seltzer Tower, why are these lit up all night long when most of the city is asleep? Let's not stop with just city landmarks. The city could encourage business leaders and property owners to turn off their illuminations and signs at a given time, especially after the businesses have closed for the evening. How about the 1 South Street or the Bank of America Building turn off the lights at the top of the buildings or Transamerica or Under Armour extinguish their signs at say 10pm? So many places leave all the lights on long after business hours are over, just think how much energy (and money) could be saved by flicking the switches.

For the sake of energy conservation, reducing light pollution, and saving money on electric bills, why don't we just turn the lights off at a certain point in the night? Seems like perfect sense to me. Are we that afraid of the dark or do we just like seeing all of our buildings at all hours of the day/night? Either way, this should be seriously considered.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Property-tax Reduction Plan on the Move

The Daily Record reported that a city council committee approved the Mayor's plan to incrementally reduce city property taxes by $0.20 per $100 of assessed value over the next eight years. This will drop the rate from the current $2.268 to $2.068 by 2020. The reduction is a part of the Mayor's initiative to get 10,000 more families to move into Baltimore over the next decade. To offset the projected loss of revenue, the new casino in the city (which has yet to be built) will contribute most of its revenue to offset this.The plan still needs to be approved by the entire city council

The idea behind lowering the property taxes is to make living in the city more competitive with living in the surrounding counties which currently have a rate more than half that of the city. Even with the reduction to $2.068 in eight years, this would still by nearly twice that of Baltimore County (currently $1.1) Howard County ($1.014) and Anne Arundel ($0.91) See State Dept of Assessment and Taxation

Will this rather small reduction really make a difference? If you're a current property owner, definitely. Any reduction of the property tax rate will be welcomed. However, is this enough to stem the loss of population to the counties, or justify a potential buyer to purchase in the city over the counties. I, for one, am not fully sold.

Sure it makes the city slightly more competitive, but we need to think serious here for a second. I would argue for the rate to drop below the $2-mark, to make it more attractive. There are booming neighborhoods across this city that need that jump start to get more residents. More residents are going to impact the retail market, businesses, and most importantly schools (which every resident will like).

The Mayor needs to stop making the "politically easy" decision here, and take a more comprehensive approach to making it more affordable and attractive to live in Baltimore City. We have a lot to offer, and a whole lot that could use improvement and development.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Good News for the Superblock?

Baltimore Brew is reporting that the superblock project soon might be finally coming to life. The developers have until the end of next month to reach an agreement with the city on the sale of the property and scope of development. Additionally, the legal suit against the project has a good chance of being dismissed, clearing the last hurtle.

The project is expected to add around 300 apartments and 200,000 square feet of retail to Howard St. and Lexington St. Long viewed as a catalyst for change along Howard St, the Superblock will infuse more residents into the westside of downtown. the recent Downtown Partnership report released yesterday details the need for more residential space, especially rentals in downtown. With more life on this stretch of Howard Street, we could finally see a shift in how this corridor will look.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Let's Dance

The first team to represent the state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore in the 2012 NCAA Tournament is, you guessed it, the Loyola Greyhounds...what?

In the 2003-2004 season the Greyhounds were 1-27. Then Jimmy Patsos took over, and in the past eight seasons, has made Loyola a competitive team in the MAAC. The Greyhounds had a career best 24 wins this year on their way to their first MAAC championship in 18 years (or the lifespan of a current Loyola freshman). With the win over Fairfield, the Greyhounds advance to the NCAA Tournament...go Hounds.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Things Are Opening Up

Brio Tuscan Grille at 100 E. Pratt Street opens up this Friday. When nice weather comes around they will offer outside seating along Pratt Street, in a space that feels more open now that the berms are gone.

A Starbucks will be opening next to Brio in the coming months, filling up the last retail space at 100 E. Pratt. This is the first new one in the downtown area since Starbucks closed some its locations during the recession.

Heavy Seas Ale House opened up recently at 1300 Bank Street in the Tack Factory, just a short walk up from Harbor East and Fells Point. The Ale House serves all your favorite local Heavy Seas brews.

The very popular Milk & Honey Market plans to open a second location in Station North in the old Chesapeake restaurant that is currently undergoing renovation. This will be right around the corner from Penn Station.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Apartment Proposal for St. Paul Street

I've often passed by the old Mercy medical offices next to the Standard on the 500 block of St. Paul Street and thought to myself, "someone should really knock that down and put up apartments". Well it looks like I pretty much nailed it on that one. A few weeks back PMC Property Group put forth a plan to renovate the current building, add two more stories, and put in 78 apartments. PMC Property most recently completely the renovation of 1201 N. Charles Street to much fanfare.

A new apartment building in this area will be a big addition. With the Standard next door, the new Mercy tower, the newly renovated Home 2 Hotel, and the forthcoming transition of the Tremont to apartments, there is more life coming to St. Paul Place and Preston Gardens (not to mention the improvements that have lately been made there).

As more information comes about this project, we'll update you all.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Exelon Chooses Harbor Point


If all goes according to plan with the Constellation/Exelon merger, their new headquarters building will be constructed at Harbor Point, near Morgan Stanley's building. A major move like this looks to be a blow to the Central Business District, which was hoping to lure Exelon to build along Light Street or Pratt street. Instead this looks like another indication that the area east of the Inner Harbor is becoming the newer "downtown".

All should not be lost on the current downtown. This could serve as a major push for the Downtown Partnership's encouragement to turn some of the older stock office buildings into residential spaces. There will be other opportunities to develop some of the empty lots downtown (maybe some will become hotels, apartments, or other mixed-use buildings), but if we increase the residential population of the CBD then it won't seem so deserted anymore.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Well That Sucked

A couple observations from the Ravens game.

The Ravens really played a great game, but fell in the end because of a dropped pass and a blown kick. We always like to blame it on the end of the game,but there were many missed opportunities and poor calls by our NFL refs.

For all those Patriots fans out there. You and Tom Brady didn't win the game, the Ravens blew it. You were outplayed on both sides of the football, and Tom Brady has no room to claim he lead the Patriots to victory. he was picked off, even though two were overturned on questionable flags, an the defense made him throw poorly. Like always he got lucky.

NFL officiating was poor...again. Inconsistency killed the Ravens chance to pull away with the lead. A receiver can be on the ground and catch the ball but when a player has both feet on the ground with the ball in the end zone and the ball is knocked out its incomplete because he didn't hold it long enough.

Bad spots and questionable penalties went against the Ravens, yet unsportsmanlike jabs and late out of bounds hits went uncalled.

Hold your heads up high Ravens, you played a good game. And you can walk away into the off season knowing that. Unfortunately the NFL doesn't reward that

Let's Go Ravens!

The Purple and Black are in Foxborough to introduce the Patriots to Ball So Hard University. Let's go Ravens!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Poe Toaster No Show for Third Year in a Row


Could this be the end of the tradition? Stretching back to the 1940s, a man dressed in black has left roses and a half-bottle of cognac on Poe's grave at Westminster Hall Burying Grounds (the original marked by a cenotaph at the back of the burial ground, not the current site up front) on the anniversary of his birth. This last happened in 2009, and since then no Poe Toaster.

There has been speculation over who the Toaster may have been, and it may have been that the man died. Seeing as the Toaster had been making rounds for 60 years, the original toaster passed along the tradition in 1998, and the second Toaster stopped after 2009.

So it looks like an old tradition has passed in Baltimore, but this is no reason to forget about our good friend Edgar. The Edgar Allen Poe House & Museum is at 203 Amity Street and Poe's Grave can be visited at Westminster Hall Burying Grounds from 8am until Dusk at Fayette and Greene Streets.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Morning Review

  • Everything is going Purple: If you haven't taken a look around town you should because it's getting Purple for the Ravens. Baltimore City Hall and the Battle Monument are lit up with Purple and many businesses have put purple filters on their lights to support the Purple & Black. The Ravens logo has been painted on both Federal Hill and War Memorial Plaza.
  • Heavy Seas Ale House is set to open up on February 15th in the Tack Factory on Bank Street. Only a few more weeks!
  • In other Brewing news, Charm City Brewing Company could begin brewing this spring at a site at 401 E. 30th Street just easy of JHU in Abell. The new brewery will be a co-op that will allow Baltimore-Washington Brew Works which makes The Raven, and Oliver Breweries which makes beer for The Pratt Street Alehouse expand their capacity and distribution.
  • Loyola basketball jumps to an 11-4 record while Towson sets the NCAA Division I record for most consecutive losses at 35.
  • Another construction crane: Work began a few weeks ago on a new parking garage on the JHH campus next to the almost finished housing tower. You can expect to see an addition tower crane go up this month for the new State Public Health Lab.
  • Moving Right Along: This is the name of a temporary art exhibit at Baltimore Penn Station. Sponsored by the Contemporary Museum and featuring work by MICA students and professors, the three visual art pieces bring some interesting life to the lobby and a vacant store front in the station. Don't be surprised if you see some interesting animations "walking" by.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012 Baltimore

It's January 1, 2012 and we begin a new year in the City of Baltimore. A lot happened back in 2011, and we look forward to what's in line for the upcoming year.

Sounds like last night's Inner Harbor celebration was a fine success. For the first time in a couple years, I was able to catch the fireworks from down near the Harbor (Harbor East to be specific). As much fun it is to watch them from a rooftop deck in Federal Hill, it's a site to catch them up close and personal. For as many people who went down to the Inner Harbor, so many more Baltimoreons watched from their stoops or stood out in the street to ring in the near year with bright flashes of light and the boom of fireworks explosions.

We look forward to spreading the word about goings on in Baltimore for the new year, and we hope you follow along and let us know what's up.