Phase One of Rash Field Redevelopment Expected to Begin Next Fall

| November 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore (WPOB) is looking to begin its redevelopment of Rash Field at the Inner Harbor next fall, but the project will now be split up into two phases. The entire project is expected to cost $20 million t0 $22 million and, without the money raised to fund the entire project, WPOB is focusing on the western side of the park which includes the pavilion and several parcels to the west.

On the western side of the park will be a redeveloped pavilion with a café, outdoor patio, overlook, bathrooms, shade structure, and amphitheater seating; a skate park called Jake’s Skate Park; a children’s nature park; a children’s playground; and new plants and landscaping. These new features will replace a small parking lot (not the one designated for the Maryland Science Center), a green space, a brick patio with a sandbox, and the western edge of the concrete bleachers.

The eastern section of the park was built as a stadium for Southern High School (now Digital Harbor High School) athletics in 1975, but Southern began using different fields several years later. The concrete track and cement bleachers remain, and the former grass field has been the home to Baltimore Beach Volleyball for the last 19 years. It also serves as a memorial for the Pride of Baltimore and as an open green space that was once the home of a trapeze school.

In Phase Two, this section will become a reorganized seven-court volleyball area adjacent to the pavilion and café, a large lawn that will be used for youth sports and events, a game lawn, a shade lawn, and a myriad of sloped paths that will replace the bleachers and transition the change in grade from Key Hwy. to the ground level of the park. Plans for Phase Two will continue to develop. WPOB has not set a timeline for this second phase and is hoping progress on the first phase will boost fundraising for the project.

In Phase One, WPOB has moved from schematic development into design development and will soon move into construction drawings. The café in the pavilion will have two glass sides looking out onto the Inner Harbor and the volleyball courts. It will have a large outdoor patio that is partially covered by a metal shade structure on the pavilion.

The café will be “an amenity to the park first and foremost,” according to WPOB President Laurie Schwartz. The interior will have room for about 20 to 30 tables. Schwartz said it will not be a full-service restaurant or kitchen, but likely serve quicker items like paninis. WPOB has not yet decided if it will pursue a liquor license.

WPOB has already received requests for meetings to take place at the cafe.

On the west side of the pavilion, a shade structure will cover amphitheater-style seating that will face the children’s play areas. Schwartz said this is so parents can watch their kids in the shade.

The design is still in the works for the nature park and playground, but Schwartz said that it will not include traditional playground equipment, rather custom-designed structures that fit the park.

WPOB is working with the local skateboarding community on the design for Jake’s Skatepark. Jake’s Skatepark is named in memory of Jake Owen, a South Baltimore resident, avid skater, and sports lover, who was killed in 2011 when he was five years old by a cell phone-distracted driver.

Following Jake’s passing, his parents, Spike Owen and Susan Yum, worked with local government officials to pass Jake’s Law which makes crashes caused by cell phone-distracted driving resulting in a serious injury or death punishable with up to one year of jail time and up to a $5,000 fine. In 2014, Jake’s Law passed with overwhelming community support.

Several fundraisers have taken place to raise funds and awareness for Jake’s Skatepark.

WPOB is working with Mahan Rykeil on the park design, Gensler on the pavilion design, and Grindline on the skatepark design.

WPOB 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. WPOB has said that private fundraising is going well, but it is not ready to release any numbers at this time. Schwartz said the new design is more conducive to sponsorship opportunities within the park.

Ben Hyman serves as the project manager of the Rash Field redevelopment.

Ideas for the redevelopment of Rash Field first began to arise in the early 2000s and this plan began to move forward in early-2016. WPOB is looking forward to finally making the redevelopment a reality.

“We are very excited, it’s taken us a long time,” said Schwartz. “We look forward to starting construction.”

Screenshot courtesy of Google Maps

 

Rendering courtesy of Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore (click to enlarge)

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