January Compass -eNews from Baltimore Planning

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An Annual Report of the City of Baltimore Department of Planning

Photo of Tom Stosur, Planning Director

A Message from the Director

Time flies when you're having fun and planning for a growing Baltimore.  Which is exactly what 2014 felt like at the Department of Planning.  The City of Baltimore is experiencing a new development boom as we continue to recover from the 2008 recession.  New housing units are up by nearly 10,000 units since 2010, with another 3,200 units under construction and several hundred more under review.  Construction cranes are once again visible throughout the City, as new and long-term development projects have gotten underway. 

This special edition of the Compass is a 2014 Year in Review, an opportunity for each division within the Planning Department to share some of their accomplishments and celebrate the successes of the past year. It's been a busy year for us, with the launch of our INSPIRE planning process in conjunction with the 21st Century Schools Initiative, our South Baltimore Gateway Master Plan development for neighborhoods around the new Horseshoe Casino, CHAP's 50th Anniversary celebration, and the list goes on!

Finally, I'd like to wish you, your colleagues and families a healthy and prosperous 2015.  We are looking forward to another year of growth and development, and pledge to continue to work on making Baltimore the most vibrant City it can be, now and in the future.


Thomas J. Stosur, Director

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The Division of Historical and Architectural Preservation serves as the staff for the City of Baltimore Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP), which has helped to preserve and revitalize our City's historic neighborhoods and sites since 1964. The CHAP mission is to enhance and promote the culture and economy of Baltimore through the preservation of buildings, structures, sites and neighborhoods that have aesthetic, historic and architectural value. CHAP goals include preserving historic architecture and monuments; promoting neighborhood revitalization; preventing demolition by neglect; and integrating our City's past into its future.

Image of Mayor and CHAP members at Celebration

Above: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Commission Chair Tom Liebel honor Tom Ward, the City Councilman who in 1964 introduced legislation to create the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation.

It has been a year of change and celebration for the Commission and staff.  2014 marked the 50th anniversary for the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. This Anniversary was celebrated with the opening of an exhibit that chronicled CHAP’s history on October 28, 2014. At this opening, current and former staff, Commissioners, and supporters came together to both reminisce and look to the future, as the Mayor handed out gifts to life-long preservationists. Also in 2014, Executive Director Kathleen G. Kotarba retired from more than 35 years of service. Her efforts helped secured Baltimore as one of the most historic cities in the country. In September, Eric Holcomb, who has worked for CHAP since 1994, became the Executive Director following a nation-wide search.

Strengthening Baltimore’s Communities

Most notably among CHAP's accomplishments, historic district permit activity climbed in 2014 to 717 Notice-to-Proceed permits issued within 33 locally designated historic districts and 194 historic landmarks. This is the highest number of permits issued annually since CHAP was established.

In addition, the Commission approved a variety of major new projects, including:

  • The rehabilitation and an addition to the Raffel building in South Baltimore,
  • A new single-family home in the historic mill village of Dickeyville in West Baltimore,
  • The restoration of the Florence Crittenton Home – an historic mansion – with the construction of 19 adjacent townhomes in Hampden,
  • A three-story vertical addition on a 1930s garage building in Mount Vernon, and
  • The restoration and an addition on Recreation Pier in Fells Point.

This year, the Commission reviewed more than 50 items in public hearings.  As important, CHAP revised its  guidelines to address Lead-based Paint hazards in historic buildings, ensuring that buildings and neighborhoods can be both historic and safe. 

Image of the interior at St. John's in the Village

Above: The interior of St. John's in the Village.

New Historic Designations

In 2014, CHAP approved the National Register designations of the Berea-Biddle and McDonogh Street neighborhoods. In addition, eight new Baltimore City Landmarks and one Public Interior Landmark were designated by Mayor and City Council, including:

  • Parkway Theatre,
  • Monumental Lodge #3 IBPOEW,
  • Enoch Pratt House,
  • Public School 103,
  • Rehoboth Church of God in Christ Jesus Apostolic, and
  • the exterior and public interior of St. John’s in the Village.

This brings the city-wide Landmark total to 189 exterior and 3 public interior landmarks. The designation of the City Hall Rotunda as a Public Interior is also currently underway for 2015.

Image of Historically Rehabbed Town Homes

Above: A row of formerly vacant rowhouses are now occupied homes in the growing Station North arts district.

Increasing Investment through the Historic Restorations and Rehabilitation Tax Credit

Image of Mount Vernon from atop the Washington Monument

In 2014, the Historic Tax Credit brought an incredible amount of investment to the City’s Historic buildings and neighborhoods. As of 2014, the program has generated over $722 million dollars in direct investment in Historic properties with a total participation of over 3,500 substantial projects. There are currently over 1,000 restorations valued at approximately $600 million underway throughout the City’s historic districts.

This is significant; a 2009 study published in The Abell Report found that every $1 of historic preservation tax credits issued by the State of Maryland leverages an additional $8.53 worth of economic activity in the state. Using this multiplier for the Baltimore City Historic Tax Credit, the $722 million of investment through the tax credit program thus far will have leveraged more than $6.1 billion worth of additional economic activity. In 2014 alone, CHAP staff approved 440 new applications and 306 final certifications, for a total investment of nearly $110 million in 2014.

On top of the significant investment in 2014, the Historic Tax Credit program had two major milestones. First, in January 2014, the Historic Tax Credit Legislation was renewed by the Baltimore City Council, allowing the program to accept applications through February 2016. In October 2014, the tax credit application process moved online. Thanks to hard work from the City’s Department of Finance and input from CHAP, applicants can now apply and track their applications online, as well as receive preliminary approval and final certification letters by email.

Conserving “The Monumental City” through its Outdoor Sculptures and Memorials

In 2014, the Commission’s staff administered 22 monument restoration and conservation projects across the city. This year, in honor of the Bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore in 1814, the Key Monument and Star-Spangled Banner monument were restored. These were the final two of Baltimore’s “Star-Spangled Banner” monuments to be substantially restored – the other three were restored over the past two years. In 2014, the fourteen bronze statues in Mount Vernon received conservation treatments, along with six other monuments in city parks and neighborhoods. 

Image of Re-enactor

Above: Reenactors conducted cannon demonstrations in front of the Star Spangled Banner monument in Patterson Park as part of the Bicentennial events.


The Division of Sustainability and Environmental Planning is the home of Baltimore’s Office of Sustainability, which staffs the Commission on Sustainability.  The Division is also home to Baltimore’s Food Policy Initiative.  The Sustainability Office and Commission are in the forefront of promoting the City’s Green agenda.  Here’s a review of some of their notable 2014 accomplishments.

Make a Plan, Build a Kit, Help Each Other

The Baltimore Office of Sustainability launched the “Make a Plan. Build a Kit. Help Each Other” campaign on Earth Day in 2014. The campaign focuses on reducing residents’ vulnerability to the impacts of natural hazards by getting residents more prepared. The first step is working with residents to fill out an emergency preparedness plan, with information that will be helpful in the event of an emergency. Residents then work with City staff to build their own emergency kits. Materials for the kits are provided such as a hand-crank radio, first aid kit, flashlight, water bladder, sanitary hand wipes, and much more.

Image of Community Workshop

City employees also work with residents to identify ways to increase the ability of the community to respond together and help each other in the event of an emergency. Residents share information, identify neighbors who may be in need of additional care and assistance, determine evacuation routes, and work together to create response plans for their neighborhood.

The City of Baltimore also provides residents with “Help/Safe” cards to put in their windows for backup communication in the event of a power loss and communication systems outage. To date, the City has distributed over 800 kits and developed over 750 emergency plans with residents.

Meet Turtle!

Turtle is the Baltimore Office of Sustainability’s messenger. Turtle helps make Baltimore a more Sustainable and Resilient City by encouraging residents to take action. Turtle provides residents and businesses with tips for their homes, work, travel and lifestyle that can help save money and make Baltimore a better City. Turtle likes to attend the JFX farmers market on Sundays; bikes to work on Bike to Work Day; ensures that people are drinking enough water and staying in the shade on Code Red days; and attends City events such as Greenscape and the Growing Green Initiative launch.

Turtle and the Mayor leading a Cheer on Bike to Work Day

Turtle can be found online on Facebook and Instagram.

Floodplain Planning

On April 2, 2014 the City of Baltimore adopted two bills, City Council Bill #14-208 and #14-209, that keep the City in compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and set the stage for the City’s application to the NFIP’s Community Rating System (CRS), a flood insurance discount program that reduces the cost of flood insurance for structures at a higher risk for flooding. The intention of the Floodplain Map and Code update was for the City to:

  1. Adopt the new FEMA flood maps.
  2. Approve establishment of a new flood zone in the tidal and non-tidal floodplains that allows the City to regulate floodplain development to the extent of the 0.2% flood (500-year) citywide and regulate to the height of the 0.2% flood in the tidal floodplain.
  3. Adopt a two-foot free board citywide in an effort to align with Governor Martin O’Malley’s Executive Order 01.01.2012.29, Climate Change and “Coast Smart” Construction, enacted in December, 2012.
  4. Incorporate ASCE 24-05/Flood Resistant Design and Construction.
Image of flooding in Fells Point

All of the changes to the City’s code are intended to make Baltimore a more resilient city. The changes accomplished two recommendations of the City’s Disaster Preparedness Project and Plan (DP3) and will help the City get closer to becoming a Community Rating System (CRS) community.

Maryland Green Schools

Education & Awareness Goal #1 of the Baltimore Sustainability Plan is to “Turn every school in Baltimore into a green school.” We use the Maryland Green Schools (MDGS) program as our standard for judging success in this area. The MDGS program is a rigorous process that requires schools to document integration of the environment into instruction, professional development, student-driven sustainability practices, community partnerships, and more. Schools must re-certify every four years to maintain the designation. Certification with MDGS has been correlated with a significant, measureable increase in test scores across all grade levels. The focus of the program is on creating a school-wide culture shift and engaging students in hands-on environmental learning.

Map of Green Schools

The Baltimore Office of Sustainability works closely with City Schools that are seeking MDGS certification. The support offered includes walking them through the process, providing grants tailored to meet the requirements of the program, connecting schools to partners, and reviewing applications in advance.  2014 was a banner year, with five Baltimore City public schools successfully certifying for the first time and another five successfully recertifying. Baltimore City Public Schools now have more Maryland Green Schools than ever before, with a total of 22. For comparison, in 2009, before the City of Baltimore began promoting this program, only 10 Baltimore City schools were certified Maryland Green Schools. We are now working with nearly a dozen new schools that have expressed interest, and expect another big bump in the number of green schools in 2015.

Image of Students with Turtle and Environment Awards

Baltimore Energy Initiative

On September 3, 2014, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the Baltimore Energy Initiative (BEI) - a multi-agency, city-wide program to expand and streamline the City's energy conservation programs, education and outreach efforts. Funded by a $52 million grant from the Maryland Public Service Commission’s Customer Investment Fund, BEI will support a number of existing City programs—supplementing the Mayor's efforts to grow a sustainable city by reducing Baltimore City's energy use, while promoting local investment. The Office of Sustainability’s Baltimore Energy Challenge is one of the programs supported by the new funding. The Baltimore Energy Challenge has expanded to offer in-home installation services, greater education and outreach opportunities, as well as a cool roof program. To schedule a FREE in-home installation of energy saving items call 443-869-2614 or visit www.baltimoreenergychallenge.org.

Image of Baltimore Energy Challenge Participants

Growing Green Initiative

In May of 2014, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined the Planning Department’s Office of Sustainability to officially launch the Growing Green Initiative.  The Growing Green Initiative (GGi) is a City-led effort to use sustainable, innovative, and cost-effective practices for stabilizing and holding land for redevelopment, and reusing vacant land to green neighborhoods, reduce stormwater runoff, grow food, and create community spaces that mitigate the negative impacts of vacant properties – and set the stage for a growing Baltimore.

Image of Growing Green Launch Event

As part of the Growing Green Initiative, the Green Pattern Book was released and the Growing Green Design Competition showcased innovative concepts for retrofitting vacant lots in Baltimore City and turning community challenges into community resources.  In September, seven winners were chosen to implement their designs, and were awarded close to $300,000, thanks to contributions from the Department of Planning, Department of Public Works, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Image of Growing Green Launch Event


To achieve its goal of increasing access to healthy, affordable food in Baltimore City, the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative (BFPI) is currently implementing the 10 Food Policy Task Force recommendations and the newly established Food Desert Retail Strategy, overcoming food policy barriers, and building stakeholder capacity to expand food access in Baltimore City. A few highlights from BFPI’s work during 2014 are below.

Food Environment Map

Building off the 2012 Food Environment Map, Planning and BFPI, with Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future updated the methodology and used enhanced data to create a new food environment map. The map, along with an extensive report exploring the issues surrounding food deserts and possible solutions, will be released in spring 2015.

Image of Produce in Grocery Store

Food Desert Retail Strategy

The Food Desert Retail Strategy was updated to include four key components: 1) Expanding retail supermarkets, 2) Improving the food environment of non-traditional retail, 3) Improving healthy food availability in the Public Market setting, and 4) Expanding Homegrown Baltimore to serve food desert neighborhoods. Work is ongoing in all of these areas and will continue to expand and gain momentum in 2015.

Homegrown Baltimore Workplace Wellness CSA

The Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model connects consumers directly to farmers for a weekly share of produce. In 2014, The City launched a CSA program open to all employees. Nearly 150 Baltimore City employees participated and received a seasonally rotating share of fresh produce right in their offices. Some employees were also able to use their wellness reimbursement to help pay for the CSA, making Baltimore the first city in the country to underwrite the cost of a CSA for wellness purposes.

Image of Grocery bags of veggies for CSA members

Get Fresh Kids

Having successfully helped introduce healthy meals into the public markets, BFPI developed kids’ menus with 9 vendors at Lexington Market. These child-sized portions come with a healthy beverage and side of fruit, and are aligned with child nutrition standards. Additionally, BFPI held Kids Food Art Workshops to teach nutrition lessons to kids and parents and familiarize them with fruits and vegetables while making edible artwork.

Photo of Food Art made by kids

National Food Day

Food Day takes place on October 24 each year, and in 2014 Baltimore City used a grassroots social media strategy to engage organizations and residents on food issues. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and 195 Baltimore citizens, posted photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram displaying the words “Healthy affordable food is a basic right using #B’MoreFoodJust. In total, those posts reached over 520,000 people!

Photo of the Mayor on National Food Day

Opportunity Collaborative

The Research and Strategic Planning division represents the City in a number of regional planning initiatives, including the Opportunity Collaborative. In 2014, Planning continued to play a key role in the ongoing work of the Collaborative, a 25 member consortium charged with developing Baltimore’s Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (RPSD).  Over the course of the last year, the Collaborative developed plans and strategies for our region’s housing, transportation and workforce development systems, with a focus on reducing regional disparities.  For additional information please visit the Opportunity Collaborative website. 

Housing Market Typology

Image of 2011 housing market typology map

The Housing Market Typology is developed by the Planning Department, in partnership with the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), and The Reinvestment Fund. It is updated every three years to assist the City in its efforts to strategically match available public resources to neighborhood housing market conditions.

The typology is a critical tool used by the Department of Housing’s Vacants to Value program to address city-wide vacant housing challenges. The typology is also used by the Housing Code Enforcement Division to tailor market interventions and strategies to neighborhood conditions.

A newly updated Housing Market Typology will be released in February and will be the feature article in an upcoming edition of the Compass... so stay tuned!  Info regarding the housing market typology is available here, including the 2011 map (pictured above).

Our Mission...

To provide the highest level of service and leadership in urban and strategic planning, historical and architectural preservation, zoning, design, development, and capital budgeting, to promote the sustained economic, social, and community development of the City of Baltimore.

Photo of Baltimore skyline from the southwest waterfront  Promenade

TransForm Baltimore

In 2014, the Planning Department participated in the City Council's review of TransForm Baltimore, through a series of public workshops to discuss the detailed recommendations within City Council Bill 12-0152, TransForm Baltimore The Zoning Code Rewrite. A new zoning code has not been adopted in the City of Baltimore since 1971, and an update of the code will help expedite modern development and private investment. This will ultimately result in the ongoing revitalization of the City of Baltimore, and its 242 neighborhoods.

The legislation, introduced in 2012, completed Planning Commission Review and a series of City Council hearings in the Fall 2013, with very few issues of contention brought to light by citizens, businesses, or property owners.

TransForm Baltimore is an important policy tool for continuing our progress toward a growing Baltimore, complete with stronger neighborhoods and a growing economy.  We are hopeful that by continuing our work with the Baltimore City Council, TransForm Baltimore will be finalized, and adopted in 2015.


The Land Use and Urban Design Division is responsible for development project management from small infill projects to large multi-phase redevelopments. The Division is also critical in helping developers establish the needed approval process and timeline for development review.

The Division is responsible for reviewing and making recommendations on all subdivision proposals, coordinating the inter-agency Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) and the Urban Design and Architectural Review Panel (UDARP), reviewing building permits and making recommendations to the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals (BMZA) on all conditional uses and conversions of buildings.  In addition to the development related functions, the Division also creates and reviews policy recommendations for the City of Baltimore.

Over the past several years Baltimore’s economy has been improving as indicated by an increase in development activities.  Based on the projects that went to SPRC in 2014, we estimate that upon full project build-out 3,812 new residential units and 578,217 additional square feet (SF) of  commercial, industrial and retail space will be created in the City.

As the economy in Baltimore continues to strengthen, the Land Use Division is in the midst of reviewing many exciting new projects and embarking on policy changes in 2015 that promise to be equally transformative for the City in years to come. In 2015 the Division is planning to continue its policy work by updating the City’s Subdivision Regulations.

Map of Development Project Locations around Baltimore

As you can see on the development map above, this is an exciting time in the City for developments. There many major projects that are being planned, have approvals or are under construction in the City.

Below is a snapshot of some of the projects reviewed in 2014 that will greatly enhance the neighborhoods in which they reside and push development in the City to a new level.  These major projects are dispersed throughout the City and include high rise and urban infill, residential, mixed use, and commercial.  

Project Highlights: Neighborhood Infill

Image of Remington Row Development Plans

Remington Row PUD

The Remington Row Planned Unit Development was established in December of 2014 and is a multi-phased, mixed-use development spanning three blocks in the Remington neighborhood.  The development combines new construction and adaptive reuse to provide new residences, retail, offices and open space along Remington Avenue.

Phase I of the project comprises a new five-story mixed use building with a historic industrial aesthetic that has approximately 15,000 SF of ground-floor retail, 35,000 SF of office space on the second-floor, and 108 apartment units – 105 units on floors 3 – 5th and 3 loft units at grade.  Phase II and III incorporate the adaptive reuse of two existing buildings for retail and office use.  The landscape plan creates “outdoor rooms” that will enliven the street, encourage social interaction, and create a unique sense of place.

900-920 East Fort Avenue

Image of Fort Avenue Development Projects

This project, located on the northeast corner of Lawrence St and Fort Ave, consists of ground level retail, six floors of residential, above 2 ½  levels of structured parking, all organized around two landscaped courtyard spaces. The scheme embraces the two streets with dominant architectural features at all of its prominent corners. Unique framing elements and materials highlight the architectural style of the building.

New East Baltimore Community (EBDI)

Image of Ashland Avenue Development Plan

The New East Baltimore Community is continuing to take shape.  In 2014 the Department approved several new projects in the area, including a new  170,000 SF office/lab building at 1812 Ashland Ave, an exciting new six-acre linear park along Wolfe St between Ashland Ave and Biddle St, and rehabilitated rowhomes along the 1000 block of McDonough.  These projects will continue to add new vitality to east Baltimore by creating new offices, housing opportunities and park spaces.

Image of EBDI Linear Park Plan

Poppleton - Center/West

The first phase of the Center/West project consists of three individual development lots.  101 North Schroeder St will be developed with 171 dwelling units, 15,186 SF of retail and restaurant uses in a 211,624 SF building.  201 North Schroeder St will be developed with 86 dwelling units, 3,948 SF of retail and restaurant uses in a 101,675 SF building.  The southeastern corner of the block will become a new public park, directly across the street from the Poe House.  A total of 163 parking spaces will also be provided within this area.  The playful architecture was designed to add a dynamic element to this west Baltimore community.  The colored panels reflect the diversity of the residences on the interior elevations that break away from a contemporary expression of the street edge facades.

image of Poppleton West Development Plans

Project Highlights: Downtown and Inner Harbor

611 S. Charles St. – Banner Hill

The Banner Hill project proposes a six story, 351 unit residential multi-family project on S. Charles St. between Lee St.and the Hill St. pedestrian-way near Christ Lutheran Church. The property sits partially over an existing parking garage serving the church and the adjacent senior housing facility, and backs on a shared open space and plaza.  

Image of Banner Hill Development Plan

The Charles Street site, sharing two city blocks, was formerly occupied by a specialist hospital and its 1986 Lee Street addition.  The original conceptual design approach was to divide the long site into two separate façade expressions, served by two internal courtyards and a single shared entry/auto court in the northern section.  Different brick colors and textures will help divide the large building mass into a scale appropriate for Charles St, while also connecting a more traditional neighborhood context with the diversity of the inner harbor.

414 Light Street  Residential Development

Image of Light Street Development Plans

The 414 Light St. project will be located on the northeast corner of Conway Street and S. Light St., and is proposed to include a 44-story mixed use tower with approximately 382 luxury apartments and amenity spaces, 12,500 SF of ground floor retail facing Light St., and six stories of parking with approximately 460 spaces.

Inspired by the form of a sail or wave, the goal of the design is to create an active pedestrian-oriented environment and promote a better pedestrian connection between the waterfront and existing communities, while having a positive architectural impact on Baltimore’s waterfront skyline.

Four Seasons Condominiums

Image of the Four Seasons at Proposed Height

The Four Season's project will add approximately 64 new condominium units to the top of the Four Seasons in Harbor East, within the three existing top floors of the building and eight newly constructed levels.  The current building is 20 stories and the new addition will now reach 28 levels (with an option to build to 30 levels based on future market demand).

Now Under Construction:

Cranes in the sky mean projects are under construction, and below are some highlighted projects, approved in 2013, that are currently under construction.

The Rotunda

The Rotunda's 383 residential units and 84,000 SF of retail are beginning to take shape in north Baltimore.  The framework of the main structures is nearing completion, as the development begins to create the new 12,000 SF central plaza.

Image of Rotunda Development Plans

Harbor Point – Exelon HQ Building

The Harbor Point peninsula has been undergoing construction to prepare the site and foundations for the Exelon Building headquarters. The 647,000 SF building will soon take shape and begin transforming the former Allied Chemical Site, and begin to frame a new park plaza.  The mixed use project will also contain the first residential component of the Harbor Point Development.  

Image of Excelon Tower Design

Greektown Townhouses

Since 2010 this Planned Unit Development (PUD) has been well underway.  The burgeoning neighborhood has proved popular and the Phase II  townhomes, approved in 2013, are being constructed block by block.

Policy Development

Curb Cut Policies

In 2014, staff also spearheaded revision of the City’s Curb Cut Policy.  Through the years, as public parking pressures in some neighborhoods has increased the desire to maximize the use of private property to meet parking needs, causing an uptick in curb cut applications. In order to bring better balance with protecting pedestrian movement and safety, the policy was revised to prohibit the use of public rights-of-way for any structure related to the curb cut application.


The Comprehensive Planning division manages community planning efforts, urban renewal plans and coordination of plan implementation. Working closely with citizens, neighborhood organizations, community based non-profits and other City agencies, the Comprehensive Planning Division helps provide the City with realistic plans that can be successfully implemented. The Comprehensive Planning Division also manages the development of the City’s Capital Improvement Program, which targets infrastructure dollars in support of our community and economic development goals.

Image of Community Planning District Map with Contact Information

INSPIRE Planning

Through the 21st Century Schools Initiative, Baltimore City Public Schools, in partnership with the Maryland Stadium Authority, Baltimore City, and the State of Maryland, will be investing approximately one billion dollars to renovate or replace schools over the next several years. The Department of Planning is conducting a planning program for the neighborhoods around each of the new or renovated schools. The program is called INSPIRE, which stands for Investing in Neighborhoods and Schools to Promote Improvement, Revitalization, and Excellence.

Image of Inspire planning session with children

The INSPIRE plans will focus on the quarter-mile surrounding each school to leverage the investment in the school and enhance the connection between the school and the neighborhood. Plans will articulate the community’s vision for guiding private investment as well as identify specific, implementable public improvements in areas such as transportation, housing, and open space to improve the surrounding neighborhood so that it can better support the school.

In 2014, the Planning Department held INSPIRE workshops at three schools: John Eager Howard, Ft. Worthington, and Lyndhurst.  For maps and summaries of these workshops, and information about additional workshops, click here.

South Baltimore Gateway Master Plan

The South Baltimore Gateway Master Plan is meant to serve as a policy guideline for the City’s future investments of Local Impact Aid in the neighborhoods surrounding the Horseshoe Casino in South Baltimore. It establishes the vision for the entire area comprised of 18 very diverse neighborhoods. The plan includes recommendations to:

  • Increase and improve transportation connections, access and mobility,
  • Improve roadway network and transit infrastructure,
  • Improve the Middle Branch shoreline and water quality,
  • Expand recreational trail networks,
  • Improve public safety and crime prevention,
  • Improve economic viability and growth with support for businesses, job creating land uses and workforce development, and
  • Ensure that residents have equal access to health resources and quality education.

In 2014, the Planning Department worked closely with community stakeholders, City agencies, and a consultant to prepare a draft plan.  A final public meeting is planned for 1st quarter of 2015, prior to the release of the final draft of the Master Plan and its adoption by Planning Commission in Summer of 2015.

Image of Kayaking Activity in the Middle Branch

Local Impact Aid Spending Plans

The Planning Department has worked with the communities and Local Development Councils around Pimlico Racetrack and the new Horseshoe Casino to develop spending plans for gaming revenue that is allocated to these areas in the form of Local Impact Aid. The approved FY15 Pimlico Local Impact Aid Spending Plan and the draft FY 16 Pimlico Local Impact Aid Spending Plan were reviewed by Pimlico Community Development Authority.  Key projects in the Pimlico area include pre-development activities in the Park Heights Major Redevelopment Area, Park Heights human services, and improvements to Northwest Park. 

The approved FY 15 Casino Area Local Impact Aid Spending Plan and draft FY16 Casino Area Local Impact Aid Spending Plan were reviewed by the Baltimore Casino Local Development Council.   Key projects in the Casino area include a complete streets initiative, Community Benefits district, and an Employment Connection Center.

Image of design for new Morrell Park Community Center

Capital Improvement Program

To guide the City in making necessary physical improvements, the City Charter requires the Planning Department to annually prepare a six-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for approval by the Planning Commission, Board of Finance and Board of Estimates. The first year of the six year program is the budget year and becomes the basis for the capital component of the Ordinance of Estimates, adopted by City Council.  In 2014, the Planning Commission approved the FY15-FY20 Capital Improvement Program, which includes $900 million for capital improvements in FY 15.  In addition, in 2014, the Planning Department successfully completed the loan authorization process for the FY16 and FY17 General Obligation bonds, with more than 70% voter support for each bond ballot question.


The Research and Strategic Planning (RSP) Division provides information, research, and analysis that guides the City’s planning related policies and activities. The Division provides City agencies and the Mayor’s Office with data analysis, research reports and funding opportunities for programs like housing, community development, transportation, the natural environment, the economy, real estate and public health. The Division works with information and mapping technologies, such as Geographic Information Systems or GIS, to help inform elected officials, developers, planners and communities of the impact and status of development in the City.

You can learn more about our GIS services and view our interactive map library by clicking on the image to the right.

Image of people looking at maps during planning meeting

RSP staff also participates in cooperative forecasting activities at the Baltimore Metropolitan Council and plays a key role in the analysis of periodic data releases from the U.S. Census Bureau on citywide, community and neighborhood levels.

Economic Development Strategic Planning

In 2014, the Planning Department worked with the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) to complete a new Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). With the help of a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Agency (EDA) and internal funding, a consultant was brought on board and the public planning process launched in 2013. This process included extensive community outreach with businesses, relevant organizational stakeholders and residents. A summary of the CEDS and a downloadable copy of the plan itself is available from the BDC website.

Image of Domino factory with Pride of Baltimore sailing past during Sailabration 2014

Inner Harbor 2.0

Throughout 2014, RSP staff worked with our partners at the Waterfront Partnership to revise and amend Inner Harbor 2.0, a new master plan, released in late 2013, for the public spaces around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.  In 2014, following extensive feedback from the nearby communities, businesses and partner organizations, the plan was revised, and will be re-released in 2015. Stay tuned to future editions of the Compass to learn more about Inner Harbor 2.0 and future public meetings or visit the Inner Harbor 2.0 website.

Image of Inner Harbor 2.0 proposal

Neighborhood Census Profiles

Image of Neighborhood Map of Baltimore

In 2014, the Planning Department released a new set of data tools for online use, that feature updated neighborhood profiles.  The new neighborhood profiles combine population statistics from the 2000  and 2010 Census counts with socioeconomic data from the 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.  The American Community Survey (ACS) is the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual household survey, which replaced the ‘long form’ data collected during the 2000 Census. 

The neighborhood profiles can be accessed in two ways.  A direct link to the data tables can be found here.  In addition to data tables, the Planning Department created an interactive map that highlights  changes in population between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census, available here (best viewed in Chrome or Firefox)..

By the Numbers...

On a Quarterly basis, RSP tracks and reports changes in the housing development pipeline to show progress towards a growing City. By tracking the number of new housing units completed, approved, and in the planning pipeline, we will be better able to guage progress towards the Mayor's goal of adding 10,000 families over the next 10 years. Between 2010 and 2014, the following changes have taken place in the housing market:

Graph showing increases in housing units