Final Master Plan Revealed for Solo Gibbs Park, Could Include Multipurpose Court Funded by The Capitals

| October 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

After three years of planning, the final draft for the Solo Gibbs Masters Plan has been revealed by Baltimore City Recreation and Parks (BCRP). BCRP worked on the master plan of the 2.5-acre park in Sharp-Leadenhall with architecture firm Mahan Rykiel Associates and members of the community.

The final plan includes demolishing Sharp-Leadenhall Elementary School, which is scheduled to close, to make way for an expanded multi-purpose field and a new recreation center and splash pad, as well as demolishing the current recreation center and splash pad along Leadenhall St. to open the park up to the street and create more flexible gathering space, a looping path system, two new playgrounds, new gathering areas, and renovated basketball and tennis courts.

The project will be constructed in phases and likely take a decade to complete in its entirety.

The two tennis courts at the northern section of the park will get paved this fall by BCRP. However, the Master Plan calls for eliminating one of the courts to add an additional gathering area that could have a pavilion.

The Washington Capitals are ready to fund the renovation of the basketball court underneath I-395. The team is proposing turning the court into a street hockey and futsal (court soccer) court with a new surface, new fencing, and goals. The court could also have basketball hoops that potentially could be at a lower height for kids.

The Capitals first presented the idea to the community in recent weeks and there is an open comment period about the proposal until October 16th. Community members with comments can send them to Katherine Brower of BCRP at [email protected]

The Capitals would like to begin on this project immediately if it is approved by the community.

Solo Gibbs has an additional full-court and half-court basketball court just east of the basketball court underneath I-95.

Phase 1A of the project will be improvements to the northern section of the park. This would include replacing the existing playground with a larger fenced-in playground, a new tennis court, new gathering spaces and gateways at Hamburg St. and Henrietta St., a new pathway that will be part of the Sharp Street Promenade of the Gwynns Falls Trail, and a flexible gathering area.

Brower said BCRP has some money to begin the design phase and acquiring funding to begin construction will likely take two fiscal years. Phase 1A is estimated to cost $1,128,000.

Phase 1B is scheduled to be a renovation of two additional basketball courts and creating a new “Hamburg Street Gateway” to enter the park on Hamburg St. and the “Cross Street Plaza” at Cross St. and Leadenhall St. The courts will move a little bit east to be closer to the existing homes and to create space for the Sharp Street Promenade just west of the courts.

In the following phases, the current baseball field will be converted to a grass field aligned for baseball, football, and soccer. BCRP and the community want to see this as a grass field so it can double as an area for gatherings and festivals. Another fenced playground is also proposed for the park near Leadenhall St.

The proposed new recreation center would be 16,000 sq. ft. in a new building along W. West. St. Brower said the building will have an indoor gymnasium with seating, fitness areas, and multi-purpose rooms. BCRP estimates the building could cost $7.2 million. The existing recreation center will not be demolished until a new recreation center is built.

BCRP estimates executing the entire master plan will cost $14,789,000.

Brower said the Baltimore Ravens, which has M&T Bank Stadium parking lots adjacent to Solo Gibbs Park, has expressed interest in a donation to the park in the past. She said South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, which manages half of South Baltimore’s Casino Local Impact Grants, has been a “solid partner” in the project and could be a source of additional funds. She also noted grants could be available for the demolition of the school and recreation center.

A previous master plan concept proposed selling a portion of the school site to a developer to raise funds for the project, but Brower said developers thought it was too small of a site and the community wanted enough space for a football field.

Overhead shot courtesy of Google MapsĀ 

Renderings from Baltimore City Recreation and Parks (click to enlarge)

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