Today’s Baltimore Sun is reporting that Baltimore’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation has approved most of a proposal for a large high rise apartment design in the Mt. Vernon area. As a new resident of Mt. Vernon, I feel very conflicted about this. On the one hand, the condo looks like it belongs in a walk in shopping mall in Atlanta above a Cheesecake Factory. Certainly the design, which is a modern, but utterly unremarkable combination of faux-brick, painted wood panels, and corrugated metal doesn’t fit in with the classic brick row houses and gothic churches that make Mt. Vernon one of Baltimore’s most historic neighborhoods.
On the other hand, high rise luxury apartments will bring new residents to the area, and along with them, more businesses. It will also likely add foot traffic and reduce violent crime by creating easy targets, i.e. a drunken group of 28 year olds in their “clubbing outfits” wandering down the street at 3am singing “don’t stop believing” at the top of the lungs.
But is this really what we want Baltimore to become? Already a new condo on Charles Street in Mt. Vernon has begun to irk me. Not only is the building totally nondescript, but it also has a massive poster advertisement on the outside featuring a muscular couple working out, with a message along the lines of “Extreme upscale apartment living for successful go-getters.” Apartments like this remind me of Bethesda, which has less character and authenticity in the whole city than a single chair in the Kibbitz room of Attman’s deli. Baltimore is way more than a suburb of DC and I worry that architectural projects like this will push the city towards a loss of identity.
Final approval on the apartment is still pending, so it’s not too late to make your voice heard. I, for one, will be contacting the comission to urge that the apartment be more in line with the style of Mt. Vernon and also that it encourage local businesses to occupy any and all of its available retail space.
You can contact the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation at:
417 East Fayette St
Baltimore, MD 21202