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Fr. Linnane, Mayor Rawlings-Blake announce contract award for York Road corridor commercial plan

| By Nick Alexopulos
Loyola University Maryland Urban Land Institute York Road Presser
Fr. Linnane presents during the press conference at the Northern Community Action Center on April 15.

Before a crowd of nearly 100 community leaders, Loyola University Maryland President Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., joined Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Councilman Bill Henry, MBA ’06, to announce the award of a contract to a consulting team that will develop a blueprint of actions items for the improvement of the York Road commercial corridor east of Loyola’s Evergreen campus.

The announcement came at a press conference on April 15 at the Northern Community Action Center in north Baltimore.

With funding and backbone support from Loyola, along with additional funding from the Goldseker Foundation and local business organizations, consulting firms EDSA, Valbridge Property Advisors, and STV Group Inc. will produce an urban design and commercial strategies plan for York Road from 39th Street in Baltimore City north into Baltimore County.

It’s the latest step in an effort that began two years ago with the formation of the York Corridor Collective, a partnership among Loyola, the City of Baltimore, Baltimore Development Corporation, Govanstowne Business Association, York Road Partnership, GEDCO, Notre Dame University of Maryland, and other community groups.

“It’s our obligation to be agents of positive change in our neighborhoods and to partner with our communities so that those of us who work and learn and live in this area share a bond that’s very vibrant,” said Fr. Linnane.

The consultants’ plan will build upon recommendations from an Urban Land Institute Technical Assistance Panel report, commissioned by the York Road Collective and released last fall. The report used input from the community to identify diverse opportunities for commercial improvements along York Road to give it a “Main Street” atmosphere. After decades of stagnant residential and business growth, the corridor is generally considered aged, lacking in continuity, unmarketable to potential investors and shoppers, and oftentimes unsafe.

A focus of Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s administration is to grow Baltimore by 10,000 families over the next 10 years. She cited the work of the York Corridor Collective as a key component of reaching that goal.

Erin O'Keefe and Stephanie Rawlings-BlakeLoyola York Road Initiative Director Erin O'Keefe (right) and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

“I firmly believe that our efforts around this corridor will be yet another reason for those who live in Baltimore to love Baltimore,” the mayor said. “What excites me most about this project is how proactive the community was in coming together to fix the issues in their neighborhoods.”

Erin O’Keefe, ’03, director of Loyola’s York Road Initiative (YRI), oversees Loyola’s leadership role in the project. Recent progress in education, health, and business in the York Road corridor is a direct result of YRI’s efforts and collaboration with organizations across the city.

The urban design and commercial strategies plan for the York Road commercial corridor is expected to be completed in early fall of 2014.

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