Incentivizing Local Reinvestment and Community Revitalization

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The 2015 Sustainable Communities Tax Credit Awards

Taylor's Furniture Store

Taylor’s Furniture Store

Designed to make reinvestment easier and bring new life to threatened historic structures, the Sustainable Communities Tax Credit has played a pivotal role in incentivizing private investment in the restoration of Maryland’s historic resources. By rehabilitating historic properties, the program spurs job growth, improves property values and encourages reinvestment of properties, commercial districts and neighborhoods into places where people want to live and entrepreneurs want to do business. More

Earth Day 2014: The Greenness of Cities and Towns and Why We Should Invest in Them


By Richard E. Hall, AICP

On this Earth Day, Marylanders can be proud of their efforts to protect the state’s natural resources, from productive agricultural land to the national gem that is the Chesapeake Bay. This administration has worked hard, along with many others, to protect farmland, forest land, other natural resources and water quality, and we can be grateful that we and future generations can benefit from that.

This is especially important in a growing, but compact state.  To do this well, we need to remember the other side of the smart growth coin:  investing in cities, towns and communities.

Redeveloping and revitalizing in places that are already built, such as Cambridge, is one of the greenest strategies we have.

Redeveloping and revitalizing in places that are already built, such as Cambridge, is one of the greenest strategies we have.

While some might not think of cities as an environmentalist’s dream, the truth is that redeveloping and revitalizing in places that are already built is one of the greenest strategies we have. More

Maryland Arts and Entertainment District Program Revitalizes Communities

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Gateway Arts DistrictDrive into downtown Frederick, Havre de Grace, Hyattsville, Snow Hill, Cumberland and any number of neighborhoods in Baltimore, and you might notice colorful banners proclaiming them as arts districts. Thanks to the state Arts & Entertainment Districts program, art’s profile has been raised in 22 communities across Maryland.

The program, which uses arts and culture as a springboard to spur economic development and community revitalization in Maryland’s downtowns, has created jobs – a whopping 4,000 plus – and new businesses, helped pull off scores of events and festivals, and supported working artists through tax credits. The A&E District program in Maryland, considered a national leader in elevating arts and culture at the state level, won a leadership award February 5 from the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission. More

Sustainable Communities Tax Credit Benefits

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The Benefits of Maryland's Sustainable Communities Tax Credit

The Benefits of Maryland’s Sustainable Communities Tax Credit

The Inner Harbor Comes of Age


“Hip, cool neighborhoods” are here today because a highway was not built yesterday

Courtesy of the Baltimore City Commission on Historic and Architectural Preservation

Had the highway planners succeeded not so long ago, we would not have Fells Point and Federal Hill as we know these neighborhoods today, as this 1959 drawing shows. Courtesy of the Baltimore City Commission on Historic and Architectural Preservation

Appears in the June 2013 edition of SpinSheet magazine

About 50 years ago, highway planners were hard at work on a vision to build I-95 along Baltimore’s waterfront. Dirty, gritty and forlorn, a place for the down and out, the area that was to become the hip, cool neighborhoods we know today as Fells Point and Federal Hill was not much thought about when the highway extension was proposed. Few pondered the negative aspects of wiping out existing communities for something so progressive as an expressway, not to mention the unhappy result that bridging the basin would have meant for the USS Constellation’s permanent berth which would have been cut off from the water by an elevated highway. Quite likely, Canton and Harbor East never would have become the sought-after neighborhoods they are today.


Spoke Shops Signal Smart Growth


The Return of Neighborhood Bicycle Shops: A Sustainable Community Indicator

“The communities that embrace the bicycle and all that goes with it NOW will be the successful communities of the next generation.”

–Alex Obriecht, President Bike Maryland & Race Pace Bicycles

Did you buy that bicycle at the hardware store?

Baltimore Bicycle Works Credit: David Whitaker

Baltimore Bicycle Works
Credit: David Whitaker

This was quite likely several decades ago. From the 1950’s through the 1970’s, you could often find a bicycle shop combined with a local hardware store in communities throughout the U.S. This was a unique 20th century retail combination that was often located on or near a main street or at a nearby neighborhood commercial center.

Retail operated differently decades ago and both bicycle shops and hardware stores often were located in the neighborhood. Sometimes that first paper-route bike or later the Schwinn Stingray, Varsity or Paramount 10-speed was purchased at one of these long gone local hardware & bicycle shops.

Several years thereafter there was a commercial transition More

Is There Life After Malls?


(co-authored by John Coleman)

A typical suburban enclosed mall (Crossroads Mall; Omaha, Nebraska; Labelscar, the Retail History Blog)

The enclosed suburban shopping mall came to symbolize the height of middle class American culture from the 1960’s through the 1980’s. The ubiquitous shopping mall was a retail model that wooed stores away from downtowns and main street shopping areas. The enclosed mall became the location for retail, socializing, cinema and the ever present food courts where teens and their families often spent the afternoon far from their community and the comfy confines of their kitchens and dining room tables. More

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