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Partnership for Building Reuse: Baltimore 

03-11-2016 14:24

Building on Baltimore's History: Leveraging Baltimore's historic assets to support successful and equitable revitalization across the city.

Attempting to answer the question of why building reuse has brought new opportunity to certain areas of the city, while other neighborhoods have not yet turned around, the latest in the Partnership for Building Reuse research series, Building on Baltimore's History explores how we can make it easier for property owners and investors to renew and repurpose more older buildings. Led locally by the ULI Baltimore District Council, the Partnership has engaged more than 90 real estate developers, historic preservation advocates, government agency staff, land use professionals, and community leaders.  With the help of six volunteer working groups, these stakeholders identified opportunities and developed recommendations for how to increase building reuse and revitalization in Baltimore.

Working with local practitioners, the Green Lab also developed an analytical tool to identify areas of the city that have not yet benefitted from reuse and revitalization, but have high potential for near-term success. To encourage building reuse in these areas and other neighborhoods citywide, the Partnership identified major obstacles that make building reuse challenging -- including market, financial, technical, and regulatory barriers. These include:

  • Weak market demand due to oversupply of building inventory
  • social and economic challenges in many neighborhoods
  • Conflicts between reuse of existing buildings and energy and building code requirements
  • Difficulty in adapting certain building types for modern needs
  • Complexity, unpredictability, and high cost associated with many reuse projects
  • Difficulty in using tax credits and other incentives, especially for smaller projects

With these and other barriers in mind, the Partnership recommends key strategies to optimize building reuse in Baltimore over the next one to three years:

  1. Adopt key provisions of the city’s proposed new zoning code, Transform Baltimore. Create neighborhood commercial districts that allow selected commercial and other non-residential uses that align with the existing character of older neighborhoods. Create new industrial mixed-use zone districts that make it easier to repurpose vacant industrial structures for residential, commercial, and light industrial use. Eliminate parking requirements for structures more than 50 years old. Streamline the process for conversion of non-conforming uses into specific commercial uses through a conditional use process.

  2. Promote creative building and energy code solutions. Create a “Code Solutions Database” for common code compliance issues, based on lessons learned over the years by designers, contractors, and code officials. Create “Code Innovation Zones” to model creative building and energy code solutions and facilitate reuse of small commercial blocks and industrial buildings.

  3. Improve and promote incentive programs. Increase funding for the Maryland Sustainable Communities Tax Credit (SCTC). Promote the use of the recently-enacted, by-right SCTC for small commercial projects in designated historic districts, including Main Streets and older commercial corridors. Package local, state and national incentives, and promote greater use in areas of the city with high opportunity for successful revitalization. Develop a matrix of all existing reuse incentives to identify critical gaps and needs. Create a citywide map illustrating areas of reuse potential. Explore the use of federal demolition mitigation funding to support the creative reuse of older and historic properties.

  4. Focus attention in high-opportunity neighborhoods and districts. Encourage building reuse and test innovative approaches in specific geographic areas. Focus policy, programs, and resources on areas that have both a concentration of older, smaller buildings as well as healthy social, economic, demographic, and real estate indicators. For example, efforts could build on existing Main Street or Arts and Entertainment Districts that suffer from vacancy and disinvestment but are well positioned for successful, near-term revitalization.

Study Partners

Urban Land Institute

With Support From

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund

#development #Sustainability #ULI #PartnershipforBuildingReuse #RealEstate #PreservationGreenLab

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PBR Baltimore: Executive Summary   8.24 MB   1 version
Uploaded - 03-11-2016
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PBR Baltimore: Press Release   266 KB   1 version
Uploaded - 03-11-2016
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PBR Baltimore: Full Report   4.40 MB   1 version
Uploaded - 03-11-2016