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Baltimore City Planning Commission approves Loyola-backed York Road corridor commercial plan

| By Nick Alexopulos
York Road Commercial Plan Loyola University Maryland
Design of a mixed-use residential and retail development located near Loyola's public safety headquarters at 5104 York Road. (Image courtesy of the York Road Corridor Action Plan)

The Baltimore City Planning Commission approved the York Road Commercial Corridor Action Plan on May 21, adding recommendations from the Loyola University Maryland-backed proposal to the city’s comprehensive master plan for a decade of economic growth and improvements to quality of life.

The action plan identifies key development sites, community needs, infrastructure and transportation improvements, and urban design projects for York Road from 39th Street in Baltimore City north into Baltimore County. Much of that area is immediately east of Loyola’s Evergreen campus.

“Baltimore City’s endorsement of our plan is a recognition of the tremendous opportunity we have to continue working together—alongside neighborhood residents—to transform the York Road corridor into a more vibrant community where people can thrive,” said Erin O’Keefe, ’03, director of Loyola’s York Road Initiative.

O’Keefe represents Loyola in a leadership role on the York Corridor Collective (YCC), a partnership formed three years ago 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. Developing and implementing the action plan is YCC’s primary focus. In April 2014, YCC commissioned consulting firms to produce the action plan with backbone funding from Loyola and additional funding from the Goldseker Foundation and local business organizations. A year later and now with the stamp of approval from Baltimore City, the action plan is a blueprint of action items with a first step of forming a business improvement district to establish commercial management capacity in the corridor. YCC recently hired a team of consultants to work with area businesses and property owners to implement a business development district.  

Aesthetic improvements, including gateway “welcome” signs and public art projects at major intersections in the corridor, will be visible evidence of success in the near-term. Analysis of and decisions on major improvements to transportation infrastructure will take more time. The action plan’s ongoing initiatives will focus on public safety, clean streets, planning and zoning, marketing, and monitoring and measuring long-term success.

The action plan builds off of recommendations from an earlier Urban Land Institute Technical Assistance Panel report, commissioned by the YCC and released in fall 2013. That report used input from the community to suggest improvements that would give York Road a “Main Street” atmosphere.

Loyola’s York Road Initiative continues to lead efforts that have contributed substantially to economic, civil, and social progress along in the York Road corridor. O’Keefe and the York Road Initiative will work closely with YCC partners to implement the action plan.

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