New Concepts Revealed for Solo Gibbs Park in Sharp-Leadenhall

| April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

Landscape architecture firm Mahan Rykiel Associates is currently working with Baltimore City Recreation and Parks on a master plan for Solo Gibbs Park in Sharp-Leadenhall. The creation of the master plan is an approximately year-long process that involves public meetings, site assessments, and proposed concepts by Mahan Rykiel, as well as drafting the plan.

To date, three stakeholder committee meetings have taken place, a public workshop was held, and an engagement session occurred with Sharp Kids.

Last month, four new design concepts for the park were released. These designs will be discussed by community stakeholders.

Solo Gibbs Park is an approximately 2.5 acre park. It sits adjacent to M&T Bank Stadium and the I-395 bridges to the west, Sharp-Leadenhall and the Stadium Square development to the east, and Otterbein to the north. It currently features a playground, two tennis courts, two basketball courts, a baseball field, a small recreation center, a splash pad, paths, and green spaces.

Mahan Rykiel has categorized the tennis courts and green spaces around the recreation center as “poor quality.” The playground, basketball courts, recreations center, and splash pad “need improvement,” and the baseball field was described as “high quality.”

Through its workshops and surveys, Mahan Rykiel has concluded that the park’s current functions of socializing, athletic opportunities, and pedestrian circulation are important, and that new desired elements for the park include adding a fitness space, an area for small games such as chess, a flex green space, a dog area, active edges of the park, better linkage to the community, signage recognition of history, and a regulation baseball field.

To note, the park is not large enough to accommodate a regulation baseball field.

Sharp-Leadenhall Elementary, which is adjacent to Solo Gibbs Park and which houses a pool, is scheduled to close in 2020. The design concepts explore different uses for that school site.

Renderings Courtesy of Mahan Rykiel and Baltimore City Recreation and Parks (Click to enlarge)

Concept 1 would build on the existing strengths of the park. It would expand the playground, eliminate one tennis court and replace it with a flex space, create a Cross Street Plaza at Cross St. and Leadenhall St., keep the recreation center, and explore shared uses for the space underneath I-395, which could include a skatepark. Concept 1 proposes using the school for a future commercial, residential, or institutional opportunity. The new use would have “eyes on the park.”

Concept 2 clusters activity around the existing recreation center. The playground would be relocated near the recreation center and its former space would be replaced by a flex space. The basketball courts would be relocated to the site of one of the two tennis courts, and the other court would be replaced by an open space. The former site of the basketball courts would be a new open space. Again in Concept 2, the school site would be used for a future commercial, residential, or institutional opportunity.

Concept 3 proposes relocating the recreation center to the school building. The basketball courts, splash pad, and playground would be relocated to spaces adjacent to the new recreation center, and a new playground would be constructed. The former site of the recreation center, basketball courts, tennis courts, and splash pad would be replaced by green spaces. The existing playground would remain. Vehicle traffic on Sharp St. would be extended through the west side of the park to “increase eyes on the park.”

Concept 4 demolishes the school and replaces it with more green space. In this plan, the basketball courts would be realigned, one existing tennis court would remain, the playground would stay in place with an opportunity for expansion, and the splash pad and recreations center would remain with a potential for a new playground adjacent to them. Additionally, a plaza would be created at Cross St. and Leadenhall St., as well as a gathering space at the former parking lot of the school along West St.

Mahan Rykiel will continue to gather input and begin drafting the Master Plan, which is expected to be completed this summer.

Funding sources for a redevelopment of Solo Gibbs Park could include the Baltimore Ravens, National Football League, and the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership (SBGP).

Solo Gibbs Park is adjacent to the $275-million Stadium Square project by Caves Valley Parners (CVP). The project is redeveloping three consecutive blocks of South Baltimore and Sharp-Leadenhall located between Cross St. on the north, Race St. on the east, Leadenhall St. on the west, and both sides of Ostend St. to the south. CVP met with Recreation and Parks a few years ago to get the ball rolling on a possible redevelopment of the park.

CVP broke ground in December on the 2,400 sq. ft., $1,050,000 Leadenhall Community Center across the street from Solo Gibbs Park.

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