A Vision for the Future of Pigtown Laid Out in New Master Plan

| November 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

All photos are from the Business District Strategic Plan

On Thursday, November 6th, a new vision for Pigtown Main Street was revealed during the presentation of the Business District Strategic Plan at the Southwest Baltimore Charter School. Pigtown Main Street raised money to hire Mahan Rykiel Associates, which teamed with Arnett Muldrow Associates and Community Design Solutions of South Carolina on the new plan. This team was described by Pigtown Main Street Executive Director Ben Hyman as “the best in the country.”

Pigtown Main Street is the business district defined as Washington Blvd. from MLK Blvd. to Monroe St. Pigtown Main Street has added eight new businesses since Hyman took over as executive director in 2002 and several other properties have been leased with new businesses opening soon. Hyman and Pigtown Main Street is hoping this new plan will serve as a great marketing tool for luring new businesses, as well as provide great guidelines for moving Pigtown Main Street forward as an organization by allowing them to see where they should invest their time and energy.

parking district

“We have different Pigtown Main Street committees that meet monthly and this plan has really energized our board and has received wonderful feedback from the community and business owners,” said Hyman.

Pigtown Main Street is currently marketing five available properties for new retail businesses. These properties include the former Tilted Pig at 771 Washington Blvd.; 788 Washington Blvd., which is the former home of Carousel Cleaners and Gallery 788; a recently renovated space at 767 Washington Blvd.; 777 Washington Blvd., which will soon be the former home of District Vapory; and, 919 West Barre St., a property that would need a significant renovation.

The plan also identifies areas that could see future redevelopment leading to further retail possibilities. These properties include the vacant property at the southeast corner of Washington Blvd. and West Cross St., as well as the currently-for-sale Bon Secours facility at the northwest corner of Washington Blvd. and MLK Blvd.

blvd blvd2

Mahan Rykiel spent significant time in Pigtown meeting with 17 businesses and the community associations of Pigtown, Carroll-Camden, Ridgely’s Delight, Barre Circle, and Camden Crossing. Mahan Rykiel additionally hosted a community input meeting.

The plan was able to show that Pigtown stores outperform the neighborhood demand with many consumers coming to the area to shop from other places, including 20% of sales from Federal Hill/South Baltimore. The plan also showed that the population shrank in Pigtown from 2000-2010, but has since been growing and  that a 3% population increase is expected by 2019.

Mahan Rykiel projected that there are retail opportunities for businesses that are highly niche oriented and specialized, and, with the success of Baltimore to attract diners, there is room for one or two restaurant additions. They also mentioned that attractions like Mobtown Ballroom are crtical for the future success of the district.

“Our top priority is luring a restaurant that people can sit down at and attract people from outside the community,” said Hyman. Tripp Muldrow of Arnett Muldrow noted during the presentation that though there is good foot traffic during the day, it is very limited in the evening as most of the businesses are closed at that time.

 barre barre2

The plan also addressed the physical appearance of the business district including signage, sidewalks, landscaping, and the gateways to Pigtown Main Street at West Cross St. and MLK Blvd.

Ideas were presented for facade and lighting improvements on existing buildings and businesses. Ideas were also shared for bike facilities, “parklets” or outdoor tables placed in parking spots during warm months, increased landscaping, wayfinding signage, and future redevelopment opportunities.

Highlights included facade improvements on the side of the shopping center at Washington Blvd. and the available space at 919 West Barre, as well as a redevelopment opportunity for the Bon Secours property, which included a large apartment building plus increased parking and retail. Sounds of excitement were heard from the crowd during the presentation as these items were discussed.

“Hopefully the renderings will give the business and property owners some ideas,” said Hyman. He also noted that through the Baltimore Development Corporation, matching grants are available for retail facade improvements and that timing of the master plan was really good with Casino Impact Funds expected in the near future from Horseshoe Baltimore Casino.

shop shop2

Nearby Hollins Market has also seen retail improvements in recent years with the additions of places like Primo Chicken, Mi Ranhito, CUPs Coffeehouse, and a revitalized Zella’s Pizzeria. “Improvements to Hollins Market are only a good thing for us,” said Hyman. He also noted that both neighborhoods are involved in the Southwest Partnership, an organization that creates a collective vision for the Southwest Baltimore neighborhoods of Hollins Roundhouse, Pigtown, Mount Clare, Union Square, Poppleton, Franklin Square, and Barre Circle.

Community group Citizens of Pigtown (COP) was also the recent recipient of the PNC Transformative Art Prize. COP won a grant for $30,00 and will work with artist Rodney Carroll to erect a 35-foot-tall stainless steel sculptural weather station featuring the neighborhood’s beloved mascot: a large pig. The sculpture will be located at the intersection Washington Blvd. and MLK Blvd.

With a lot of good news and some guidelines for its future, Pigtown Main Street is really excited and ready to get to work. “We’re thrilled to work with Mahan Rykiel and the entire consulting team with their combined experience of working with hundreds of main street communities nationwide. We are energized by this plan and are excited to be working on it with the community – and South Baltimore at large – to continue to revitalize Pigtown and Washington Blvd.,” said Hyman.

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Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.