The National Aquarium’s West Covington Park to Open Soon

| June 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

photoDevelopment around the Middle Branch in South Baltimore has been slow to take off as many projects including Westport Waterfront and Waterview Overlook were announced just prior to the recession. However, the National Aquarium is hoping the completion of West Covington Park will be the first step in reversing the area’s fortunes.

West Covington Park has been seven years in the making as a former brownfield on the shores of the Middle Branch just northwest of the Hanover Street Bridge is being transformed into a park with native vegetation, trees, educational signage, pathways, parking, and a pier out on the Middle Branch. Phase I included the remediation of the contaminated soil at the space. The completion of West Covington Park is Phase II, which the National Aquarium is hoping to open to the public by the end of June.  Phased I and II of the project have been funded through state and federal grants, and the landscaping has been performed by Baltimore City.

When the project was announced in 2007, the National Aquarium teamed with Turner Development on a mixed-use project that was to include West Covington Park, as well as a mixed-use project at 101 W. Dickman St. The mixed-use project was to include the  relocation of the Animal Care Center, which is currently in Fells Point, and an additional space for educational opportunities.

The mixed-use project was unable to survive the tough economy and only West Covington Park was able to move forward. 101 W. Dickman was recently sold to a Chevy Chase-based developer.

Behind West Covington Park is a parking lot that is currently used as a farming space for Big City Farms, as well as for storage for jersey barriers from the Baltimore Grand Prix. The National Aquarium is hoping to use the space for a Phase III of the project at some point in the future.

“This has been an exciting opportunity to work with the federal government, state and city on a project that will turn a former brownfield into a great space for public use,” said Dale Schmidt, Senior Vice President of the National Aquarium. “This park is way ahead of the rest of the developments around the Middle Branch. Hopefully this can be an accelerator for the rest of the area.”

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