New Design, Budget, and Timeline Revealed for Rash Field Redevelopment

| June 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

The Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore has released a new updated plan for the redevelopment of Rash Field, the seven-acre park on the south shore of the Inner Harbor. Waterfront Partnership is working on the project in partnership with architectural firm Mahan Rykiel. A previous redevelopment plan was presented in the spring of last year and was expected to begin construction this fall.

“The previous plan was accepted by the community, but it didn’t get the type of enthusiasm we aimed to achieve from others and within our own team,” Laurie Schwartz, president of Waterfront Partnership told Richard Jones, president of Mahan Rykiel, agreed saying, “We can do better.”

The new plan still includes the predominant features of the previous plan. These include The Sand Box, a seven-court beach volleyball area near the center of the park; The Lawn, a natural grass field, which is now a bit smaller and will be used for kids soccer games, pick-up sports games, events, as well as space to relax; a skatepark; The Game Allee for bocce ball and ping pong; and the Play Lab for kids, which now includes a nature park and kinetic play area.

“It’s all part of our commitment to bring more families to the Inner Harbor,” said Schwartz.

Big changes in the new plan include the demolition of the concrete bleachers around Rash Field. The bleachers against Key Hwy. will be replaced by a green wall. There will also be changes in elevation and grade for running and walking paths, landscaping, and gardens. Running paths will likely be made of pavers. Schwartz told this would add more shade, a response Waterfront Partnership kept hearing during its request for comments. This area will also be the new home of the Pride of Baltimore memorial.

The bleachers on the western end of Rash Field will be replaced by an overlook with views of the park, skyline, and Inner Harbor. Patrons will be able to get down to the park using a stairwell and ramp.  This overlook will also have a new men’s, women’s, and family bathroom. The Kaufman Pavilion between the western bleachers and the water will be removed.  “It allows the eastern and western parts of the park to be connected without the division of the pavilion. It will make it feel like one space,” said Schwartz.

A food concession will also be added to this area. The sides of the overlook will display public art, which will also be featured in other areas of the park.

New landscaping will be added throughout the park. This will include native Chesapeake Bay area plantings, various pollinator gardens, and plants for stormwater management.

There will also be a new water feature at Rash Field that has yet be defined, according to Schwartz. It will sit between The Lawn and The Sandbox, and could be a pond or a fountain.

A safe level of lighting will be added throughout the park, according to Jones, and the fixtures on the lighting masts that allow for beach volleyball at night will be improved.

“People who have looked at the new plan are really excited. It’s so much more dynamic,” said Schwartz.

Waterfront Partnership is hoping to begin construction next spring with an approximate 12-month timeline. If the project needs to be executed in phases, the plan is to start on the western portion of the park. This would include The Play Lab, and skatepark. The plan will be presented to the public tonight at the Baltimore Visitor Center, and will be presented to the Baltimore City Planning Department’s Urban Design & Architecture Review Panel (UDARP) in July.

The new aspects of the plan have increased the estimated price from $15 million to $20 million. Waterfront Partnership has $10.5 million in capital fund from Baltimore City (although at this time the funds would be released in phases) and $2 million from the State of Maryland. It will be looking for sponsors and grants to fund the rest of the redevelopment. Schwartz said the new design is more conducive to sponsorship opportunities within the park.

“We think it will become a major attraction,” said Schwartz. It won’t be as big as Brooklyn Bridge Park or Millennial Park in Chicago, but it is going to be pretty special.”

This article has been updated. 

Existing condition screenshot courtesy of Apple Maps

Rendering courtesy of Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore and Mahan Rykiel

Rendering of the previous plan courtesy of Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore and Mahan Rykiel

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