The seven blocks of Baltimore Avenue beginning at Clark Park on 43rd Street through to the Dock Street Brew Pub at 50th Street burst with activity. From bookstores like Bindlestiff’s, to cafes like the Gold Standard, Atiya Ola, the Green Line, and the Satellite, to restaurants such as Vientiane and Dahlak, the strip is regarded as a vibrant commercial and residential corridor—though after the Dock Street Pub, Baltimore Avenue’s vitality begins to decline. Marred by vacant lots, buildings and storefronts, the corridor pales in comparison to the blocks that precede it.
That’s why Cedar Park Neighbors partnered with the Community Design Collaborative to begin discussions about ways to redevelop Baltimore Avenue from 49th to 52nd Streets. The surrounding community was then invited to attend one of two meetings held either last Wednesday, February 24th or Saturday, February 27th at the People’s Baptist Church to share their input.
Of the approximate seventy-five residents to attend last Wednesday’s meeting, nearly everyone present had lived in the neighborhood for at least five years, though only a handful had lived in Cedar Park for twenty years or more.
“Why are we here?” asked the Community Design Collaborative’s David Hincher at the start of Wednesday’s meeting. “To have a conversation with residents, business owners, and community leaders to discuss the future of this stretch of Baltimore Avenue.”
“At this stage, it’s just a discussion,” said Hincher, adding, “Nothing that is discussed here is set in stone either-though plans might be spawned from these workshops.”
On Valentine’s Day, 2010, amidst the winter’s record-breaking snowstorms, the University City Historical Society hosted the annual members’ awards tea. A surprisingly large number braved the elements to come to the c. 1903 icicle-covered white marble “Castle” of Nick & Ellie Cernansky to enjoy tea and the spread and applaud those honored for outstanding preservation efforts in 2009.
These featured two recently restored Second Empire style twins in Powelton Village, one at 3404-06 Hamilton Street and the other at 3404-06 Baring Street sharing similar histories. On Hamilton, owner/contactor Larry Biond and Fran McGinnis had, since the 1960’s, worked to restore and preserve the multi-unit 3404, including its distinctive wooden porch, while watching its twin at 3406 suffer neglect and abandonment. In the new century they acquired it, gutted the interior, rebuilt & restored its exterior walls and the matching porch and gave the two halves a coordinated multi-colored paint scheme. They now enjoy their splendidly restoration twins from their new single family quarters at 3406.